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Detention – computer game review

Detention – computer game review

Review by Leigh

RedCandlelogoTagline: As if going back to high school isn’t nightmarish enough …

Indie developers are really smashing out quality, innovative and stylish low budget games rivaling their triple A budget competitors. Red Candle, the developers behind Detention, this 1960s Taiwan based 2D puzzle horror title have created a tight little slice of narrative gaming with more depth than most people were probably expecting.

detentionPress7Detention begins by placing you in the shoes of Wei, a sleepy high school student. Having falling asleep in the classroom, he awakes long after his geography lesson has finished to find all of his fellow students gone and a typhoon warning written on the blackboard. Wei finds himself trapped in a very “all-is-not-what-it-seems” school. He encounters fellow student Rey, who quickly becomes the playable character for the majority of the game. With each step reality slowly melts away to reveal an eerily supernatural world.

I’m a little ignorant of Taiwan’s history and floklore. This game definitely helped me breach that knowledge gap and gave this foreigner an excellent idea of the real life threats that plagued people in Taiwan of the time. It even compelled me to do a bit of research. Who said games couldn’t be educational? The narrative requires a bit of interpretation, giving the player what they need to know as they progress in the game. At the end of the game players will either piece it together or they won’t.

detentionPress16A variety of ghosts stalk the halls of the school. The player must tackle each one with care to otherwise prevent a lengthy walk back to the school, predominantly by holding your breath and luring the ghosts away from doorways with an offering of rice. It was tense to begin, but after a couple of times my fear was replaced with irritation as I’d tediously make the walk of shame back to where I left off. Guess there’s nothing more horrifying as seeing a big fat old “Game Over” screen and having to reload your previous save.

It has an abstract puzzle element that will either charm, spook or irritate you to the point of frustration. In some ways the game suffers from what I like to call “Adventure Game Syndrome.” Items are relatively easy to find, but what you do with them sometimes defies logic. Notes collected over the course of play will give players hints, tips and sometimes blatant instructions to deliver juicy nuggets of narrative.

The sound and music is beautiful, creepy and very fitting the feel of the game, often all at the same time. Although mainly a 2D sides rolling adventure, the 2D layering, camera pans, camera zooms and a bit of 3D mixed in gives the game a lot of atmosphere and depth.

detentionPress13Alternate endings are available if the player chooses specific narrative options while conversing with a shadowy spectre towards the very end. Keep that save file in handy.

From start to finish the average player could reach the end in about five hours. A good way to spend a lazy afternoon / evening coupled with a reasonable price tag.

Detention is simple in design and unexpectedly rich in narrative. It isn’t apparent at the beginning but a full playthrough is a very rewarding experience, minus some of the more irritating puzzles in which I had misinterpreted horrendously. Buy it.

You can order Detention on SteamTo find out more about the latest reviews, stories and other cool things in the world of games, like us on Facebook. And remember – if you’re game, we’ll play!

Image sources: Banner – Steam; All other images – Red Candle Games

About Leigh Carr

Leigh Carr