Title: Death Mark
Developer: Experience Inc
Publisher: Aksys Games
Genre: Adventure, Visual Novel
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita
Audience: M for Mature
Release Date: 31/10/2018
Price: £44.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.
What the Developers say
You have been Marked…
A strange rumor is spreading through the shadows of Tokyo’s H City: a mysterious disfigurement, like a grotesque birthmark, has been appearing on the bodies of certain individuals. Anyone who receives the Mark will soon cease to exist of unknown, horrifying causes.
Deprived of your memories, you arrive at a mansion rumored to protect the bearers of the Mark. As the doors swing open, the countdown to your demise has already begun…
Horror comes in many forms and what might be scary to one person, may not phase another. I enjoy being scared, but even when playing Resident Evil 7 entirely in VR and The Evil Within 2, it takes a lot for a video game to honestly scare me. In a time where it seems like developers are opting to remove all power from the player to keep a game scary, it’s rare to find horror games that are trying new ways to frighten the player. Death Mark, from developer Experience Inc. and published by Aksys Games, seems like a run-of-the-mill visual novel, but as you get deeper into the title, you will realise this will genuinely be one terrifying time.
The story begins with protagonist Kazuo Yashiki awakening to having a strange mark on his arm. Players then go on a journey into discovering not only why the mark appeared in the first place, but how to remove it. After doing some searching, Yashiki finds himself at the mansion of a researcher Saya Kujou, and evidently, she knows a lot about the mark. She might be able to help, but there’s one problem, she’s not alive, and all her secrets are hidden on why this mark came to you.
All hope is not lost though, as a living doll at the mansion named Mary lends her knowledge about the mark. Bearers of the mark will die in a matter of days, and the only way to get rid of the mark is to destroy the spirit that put it there. Throughout Death Mark, Yashiki will meet other mark bearers who end up going him on his search for answers and hopefully remove the mark. I found the narrative to be engaging and clever, effectively setting the mood for everything to come and any questions I had inevitably were answered before the ending.
While wandering through the mansion’s corridors, players will have to investigate every area of the map and their surroundings. This will add items and information to your tool list, which is used to progress the story and also fight spirits. However, there were times where I would become lost in chapters due to a lack of direction or information, and was forced to go through entire levels, sometimes multiple times, looking for a way to progress.
There are times when you might have to answer questions posed to Yashiki correctly, or that character will die. But, the consequences of this gameplay mechanic didn’t seem to have an impact on the ending, as you could restart from the beginning of the test and by trial-and-error get through. Fighting spirits works similarly, but you have to use items with your partner to fight against the ghosts. To get through this, you will need to recall information you’ve found throughout the map and use it properly to defeat the spirits.
Death Mark, without a doubt, nails atmosphere and sound design. If you play this game with headphones, you’ll be provided with one terrifying experience as every creak, scream and gurgle will stay with you for seems. Combined with terrifying illustrations, you’ll have nightmares come to you at night. There were some legitimately scary moments in this game all provided by the artwork and art style. Some of the spirits images stayed with me long after playing, and it was unsettling, to say the least. Each spirit paired with their respective backstory gave them life and made them feel real.
Overall, Death Mark hits all the right cues for being a standout visual novel adventure and horror title. I was utterly enthralled from beginning to end thanks to the compelling story, characters, and illustrations. While there may have been confusing times when trying to figure out how to progress, I ended up finding my way to the end of the adventure only to find out there are multiple endings. This will give me more opportunities to go back into the spirit-infested darkness not only frighten myself but have a memorable experience yet again.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Death Mark on the Nintendo eShop on the following link, http://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Death-Mark-1464057.html