Title: Death Mark
Release Date: April, 4 2019
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Aksys Games
It finally happened, the spooky adventure game Death Mark got a PC release following its previous release on PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4. As I consider myself being more of a PC fangirl, I was eagerly waiting for the PC release of Death Mark. Given this is my first time playing this game, without any knowledge of the console versions before, I ended up getting quite surprised with how much I ended up enjoying the game. To not give away too much early on, I almost finished Death Mark in one go because I couldn’t help wanting to find out more about its supernatural mysteries — while getting absolutely terrified at times.
For a different perspective, check out our review of the console version of Death Mark.
The story follows Kazuo Yashiki who suddenly shows up in front of a mansion without any memories of his past. Shortly after, he finds a strange mark on his wrist and while questioning how it got there, a doll named Mary appears and explains that her master was trying to solve this mystery before she suddenly died. More importantly, it turns out Kazuo only has a few more days to live due to his strange mark. With Mary’s guidance, Kazuo will meet a handful of new people who share the same fate and their only option to live will be to try and help each other.
Every chapter introduces a new character and spirit to the story, which falls more in line with short spooky stories that you would talk about with your friends — with the only difference being that terrifying things are actually real in Death Mark. Given that the chapters can feel rather short, I was a bit disappointed at the lack of character development. Now, I get that it’s a horror game and that it’s no surprise that the interactions and relationship between the characters might fall a bit short at times, but I had wished for more detailed background information on the individual characters. I ended up not really caring about a handful of the characters even when they end up dying, it didn’t affect me too much.
With that said, your decisions and actions actually matter in Death Mark and your choices do affect the outcome of the story. However, the changes between the various chapter endings are pretty small save for a couple of different lines of dialog, so unless you’re going for the good ending, it’s not a huge deal to replay the chapters.
Additionally, I noticed the dialogue shared between characters can become pretty repetitive. After completing every scenario, I felt annoyed when the same dialogue or description got repeated during multiple scenes. Now, you could say the people are suffering from amnesia and are very forgettable, while this indeed is the matter, it just gets old being explained the same things over and over again.
I really liked how Death Mark works with the dialogue and high-lighted specific words in a special color, such as red or yellow. Since the names don’t show up in the textbox, in this visual novel, all of the thoughts and dialogue of the main character got colored in blue. This way, you could immediately notice who was talking, as it would have been confusing if the text was kept all the same.
The controls in Death Mark were easy to follow as the button for the required action showed up all the time, so it was impossible to forget what key was required. Additionally, it is also possible to change the keybindings in the menu, in case someone is unsatisfied with the default options. A very nice feature is that you can also use your mouse to play the entire game. Personally, I found this to be the best way to play since it was easier and faster to use the flashlight with the mouse.
Death Mark on PC also has controller support. The only issue I encountered with using the keyboard is that the game is clearly made for US residents. The “Z” key was used as a default button for examing but for the Europe keyboard, it was the “Y” button. I got confused in the beginning as I am used to using a European keyboard and it didn’t do anything when I pressed “Z” until I remembered it may be due to the reversion of the keyboards, although this is easily changeable in the settings. Sadly, I also noticed, when you’re only using your mouse to play the game, it’s not possible to skip the text, so replaying the game might be tough using that option.
During my time with the game, I also encountered a save bug in the mansion. While the option to save is there, you can’t choose any savefile to overwrite or make a new file. Instead, it shows up that the game is indeed saving, but when closing the game and going back to it, there is no savefile to be found. This is especially annoying since I just assumed it would work, but had to replay a chunk of scenes because it didn’t manage to save. The save spots while investigating, however, are working fine as long as you’re not in the flashlight mode.
For those who are wondering where the sixth chapter is, well, the extra chapter DLC is already included in the game, so if you bought Death Mark on PC, you’ve automatically purchased the sixth chapter as well. This chapter will unlock once you finished the good ending of the game and will automatically play after that. An additional difference to the console versions is that the PC port of Death Mark is completely uncensored. Although it’s only a small part of the game, it’s nice to have full access to the game you’ve bought.
In the end, while I had some issues with Death Mark at first, the story totally managed to throw me off and keep me playing until the very end. I can agree that the direction in the game can be a little unclear at times without a guide, which means you might spend time aimlessly wandering around, but I ended up really enjoying my experience with Death Mark.
Death Mark manages to nail the horror atmosphere, which literally left me terrified while playing. However, that couldn’t stop me from playing the game until all mysteries were solved. The PC version of the game has enough customizable options to fit any players playstyle and the beautiful character illustrations and mysteries will keep your eyes glued to the game for its relatively short runtime. I can easily recommend Death Mark to any horror fan and feel that we definitely need more horror adventure games like Death Mark for PC.
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