Decay – The Mare is an episodic horror-adventure that actually started life on the Xbox 360 as an Indie Game. Sadly only two of the three planned episodes were ever released. We suspect this was due to the poor visibility of the Indie Games channel along with the fact that the adventure genre doesn’t seem as popular with console gamers.
Thankfully, for adventure game lovers, developer Shining Gate Software has teamed up with Daedalic Entertainment to bring the game to the PC via Steam. This release contains the full three episodes for the first time.
In Decay – The Mare players take the role of a drug addict called Sam. He’s trying to kick his drug habit and sort his life out. Sam ends up in an institution called Reaching Dreams. During the first night things go bad and he ends up trapped in an endless nightmare.
The game plays like a cross between an adventure title like Myst set in a Silent Hill like location. The action is played from a first-person perspective and each location is a mostly static background. We say mostly because there are normally little details such as flickering lights or a moving fan to keep things interesting.
These little details definitely add to the creepy atmosphere as does the dark grainy picture. The atmosphere is actually rather well done and there are plenty of little scare sequences as you progress which might have some players jumping out their seats.
Each location shows arrows on the left, right and bottom of the screen if you can turn in those directions. The game is controlled with a mouse and you have to click on items of interest to examine or use them. Items that can be picked up are added to your inventory and are usually needed to solve one of the many puzzles.
The puzzles come in varying difficulty and we got past most with a little head-scratching. There were a couple that had us stumped for a little while before we kicked ourselves when we finally had that eureka moment. There was even one puzzle we didn’t quite understand but managed to solve it with some random clicking.
If you play a lot of games like this then you’ll have a fairly easy time and know to do certain things while playing. Making notes of anything that could be useful such as numbers in a passage of text or the position of hands on a clock are examples.
If you do find yourself stuck there is a simple help system that you can click for hints. Usually this will point you in the right direction by showing which way to move or turn next. When you are stuck with a puzzle it might let you know that there is information to find to help you solve it.
Decay – The Mare isn’t the longest game around and the three chapters are only going to take around an hour each to complete. We’d expect most players to get through the game in under four hours. There’s little reason to come back to the game once you’re done apart from some hidden collectible coins that unlock concept art.
Still if you’re a fan of horror and adventure games then Decay – The Mare is worth checking out.