Death Mark (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £32.99
Where To Get It: Steam

Ghosts, it seems, are sexist. Either that, or they’re creeps. This is the impression I get from Death Mark, a visual novel/RPG with an interesting premise, but fanservicey art choices that don’t gel well with their horror narrative. So, more accurately speaking… Death Mark’s got a gender-bias problem.

I wanted at least one male horror, for comparison’s sake.

Let’s back up a bit. Death Mark tells the tale of an amnesiac protagonist, where it’s quickly established that they are amnesiac because of a death curse from a vengeful ghost. And so, with a living doll, a mansion that belonged to one of the victims, and the help of other Marked individuals, you attempt to find the spirit that cursed you to die in terror, forgetting more and more.

Let’s appreciate what’s good. The soundtrack is atmospheric and tense, and the sound design is pretty good. The UI is clear, except for the character menu (Which, apart from the END that leaves the game, can be explored just fine.) The art is good, except for some of the ghosts. The story beats are interesting, and the game sells its odd, urban legend inspired world. Similarly, the characters are interesting, and each has something going for them, where even the unlikable ones have some sympathetic aspects to them.

The most horrifying woman’s death CG in the game. And still shibari. SIIIIGH.

But, as mentioned, the game has a definite “Targeted toward the horny white male” vibe to it, as men are invariably murdered horribly, while the portrayal of women is… Well, this is the least sexy “Dead/about to be made dead” CG in the game apart from the intro. Inventory can be a bit of a pain, especially in Chapter 2, where the bottles of Nite Nite are not grouped, and yes, there are items of technically no use. Finally, while I could say the deaths/game overs for fuckups are annoying, the main reason this is so is because saves are restricted to the mansion, as, for the most part, puzzles do have clear hints (Sometimes in notes, sometimes inventory, sometimes conversation.) And finally, the monsters being in a different art style, while I can understand why (To emphasise their otherness), it doesn’t really land for me.

While Lee Chaolan has fallen on hard times, he’s still cheery as ever…

Nonetheless, overall, I enjoyed Death Mark, having completed the good route over the course of the weekend. I enjoyed its twist at the end of the main story, I somewhat enjoyed the DLC chapter, but would warn folks that the game contains mentions of abuse, child abuse, suicide, prostitution, rape… Heavy subjects. If that doesn’t turn you away, then Death Mark is pretty solid horror, and I do, overall, recommend it despite the reservations above.

The Mad Welshman says “Kill men sexily in horror games 2019!”

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