Death Mark Review09/11/2018
You went about your hectic day and by the time you get home, you barely are on the couch before crashing asleep. Suddenly, you bolt awake and with a slight burning sensation on your arm. Looking down, you see what looks like bite marks, scarred into your skin. Panic overcomes you, as you try to think when did you get this and as you try to remember, it dawns on you that your memories are sparse. What memory you do have, is the review for the game, Death Mark.
Your memory is that Death Mark is a new visual novel horror game by Aksys Games. You play as someone who has the mark on them and seeking answers for it. Rumour is, people will get these bite marks on them from evil spirits and at first, there’s some memory loss. As times passes, more memory fades away and abnormal behaviour comes into play till they die. You find yourself at a mansion, where you think you will get help but end up on one hell of a ride.
From here on out, you work with a living doll, who says the mark can go away if the evil spirit that gave it is vanquished. Which is easier said than done when you have your memories disappearing and nothing to go on. The start of each chapter is coming and going of companions who also bear the mark but have some leads on rumours and stories of their own about when it happened. Helping them out brings you closer to unravelling the mystery of the mark.
Gameplay is the usual visual novel style in that you have a still image on the screen and dialogue box on the bottom. As characters talk, you will be prompted to make choices for a response. When you’re not talking, you’re exploring different facilities per chapter, by walking in first person view. The exploring is broken down to what I would say panels, so a hallway may consist of 5 panels before getting to the stairs. Each panel may have the stuff to look at, feel, or use an item on. Through exploring, you collect items and clues for the evil spirits.
Moments heat up in Death Mark when it prompts that it is a life or die situation. You are then put into a situation where choices vitally matter and timed to decide. You start with a soul power that works as a timer to decide on a choice. Choosing the wrong one can deduct points and if you hit 0, you die. Selecting the right choice will stop the soul power from decreasing and the screen will prompt safe. During battles with the evil spirits themselves, you are choosing items to use that you have collected during that chapter. There are three ways this ends and that’s in death, normal ending route, or good ending route. Dying is not fun, so don’t willingly go that route.
The art style throughout the whole game is amazing and despite how disturbing the imagery is, you can’t help but stare at it. There’s so much to see with small details that I would spend long moments just looking at everything. From the rooms to the spirits, there is a lot to take in and you never know what you will see next. Rooms may look bare, but a quick skim of the flashlight would have something appear then disappear, making me hesitant to do anything else in that room. There are moments when I see random faces or limbs in a small area. Extra spook.
Death Mark also has a sound quality that is just perfect. The songs that play silently along with the random sounds of a clock or feet crunching dirt is all fitting for the game. I would periodically be caught off guard with the sounds played with spirits making their presence. One notable occurrence is during a phone call and the sounds heard are unnerving. Speakers are fine, but this game is a good one to have headphones on for to get the full effect.
Beating the game brings you back to the start where you can play through again. Maybe try the alternative route as there are two different ones, the normal and good ending. There isn’t much else for replayability other than seeing the opposite route. After beating the game, you do unlock the gallery where you can look at still images of scenes from the game and some additional artwork.
Death Mark is a great game for visual novel fans and especially horror fans. The stories told in each chapter were all so well written and offered their own twists of macabre, while still tying the story together. Even though there isn’t much to the replay factor, there is plenty to enjoy and enough spooks to please fans of the genre.