"Detention": A Video Game Review
Set in 1960’s Taiwan, the country is under martial law. The game opens in a school with Wei falling asleep in class. When he awakens, he finds that the school is deserted due to an incoming typhoon and rushes to find a way out. After bumping into a fellow pupil named Ray, the two head for the bridge that leads into town, only for them to discover that it has been destroyed. Upon making this discovery, the two head back to the school grounds to find shelter and hope this all blows over. Of course, things don't go the way they want.
Before long, the world is plunged into chaos and horror, monsters roam the halls and strange, psychological happenings occur.
Red Candle's Detention is a very bold interpretation story. It challenges social issues of the time period, the free will of the main characters, and it isn't afraid to incorporate atrocities committed at the time to service its horrific themes.
The plot pulls no punches as it batters the human condition.
Something really noteworthy about the plot is the fact that the story is told through the eyes of a child which is really saddening as we see the decisions made begin rooting themselves at home, watching what those decisions have created.
Experienced on a 2D perspective, Detention's experience relies on solving relatively simple puzzles and navigating the school and the various nightmarish worlds, trying our best to avoid the ghosts, known as Lingereds, that patrol the various locations.
There is no combat, forcing players to avoid or maneuver around certain enemies while holding their breath. When the player prompts the character to hold their breath, they are undetectable in this state, but just like in real life, players cannot hold their breath for long; because of this, players must time their breathing accordingly. Other times, holding your breath doesn't work and players must find and place a food offering for the Lingered to eat, distracting them from the player.
Players are given a variety of interactable objects and notes that gives more depth and information to the world. With this, players are also given interactable objects that are often used at later points in the game, much like other survival horror games.
The gameplay is quite simple, but this is a strong point for the game so players can focus on its story and atmosphere.
The main draw for Detention is its themes and scares. Where most games recycle the same scares over and over again, Detention always brings something new, building tension and terror with some really unsettling imagery, terrifying enemy designs, and really powerful sound design.
The sound of Detention is as uncomfortable and alarming as its graphical design. The audio design revolves around shrill screams and ominous, indescribable tones that play in the background as players navigate the disturbing world.
When there is music, however, the player is filled with a sense of dread, confusion, terror and, oddly enough, wonder.
Honestly, when it comes to setting the atmosphere, Detention is a master at this craft, producing work that can rival the likes of Silent Hill.
Now to tie the bloodstained bow on this horrific gift.
Detention's overall experience looks incredible. The art style blends realistic and manga-esque visuals to really set the mood. At any given moment, the world could twist and change as it collides with the scares being presented. The hand-drawn avatars move smoothly from hyper-realistic corridor after corridor and the enemies themselves are incredibly detailed as they follow closely behind you.
Overall, the game is beautiful to look at in the most foreboding, melancholy way possible. The different shades of gray don't come off as bland in any way and really helps the much harsher colors, like red, really stand out.
Detention is an instant horror classic. Clocking in at three hours long, it doesn't overstay its welcome either.
Detention utilizes its simple gaming mechanics to introduce themes that are almost unfair, helping escalate the horror of this beautiful game that much. With a terrifying world, twisted ghosts, and a haunting melody, Detention is more than deserving of your time and should be experienced firsthand.
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© 2019 Kyle Atwood