The Starship Damrey
Developer: Chunsoft Release Date: May 17, 2013
Publisher: Level-5 ESRB Rating: T
Platforms: 3DS MSRP: $7.99

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The Starship Damrey, part of Level-5’s “Guild02” collection, is a first-person adventure game by Chunsoft’s Takemaru Abiko and Kazuya Asano.

When you first wake inside the stasis pod, you are greeted with being called “Mr. Guest” and what seems to be the most difficult puzzle in the game: getting into the computer system. However, once you have the system up and running again, you will find yourself primarily running fetch quests back and forth across the ship using the Damrey’s robotic assistants. Perhaps it was luck, or perhaps it was just too simple, but I often found myself holding the item that I needed by the time I found out my next task. As a result, the rest of the puzzles felt terribly easy.Described as a suspenseful adventure game, does Damrey manage to deliver thrills?

As the introduction proclaims, “This game contains no tutorials or explanations. Part of the experience is to discover things yourself.” Not that a tutorial is warranted. The story of The Damrey and its crew is fleshed out through journal entries found as you explore the ship and crew data that is unlocked as you progress. The way the game is structured means that you will have almost no clue about the situation until you’re close to finishing. The writings that you find are well done and help add to the suspense since you don’t know what could possibly be lurking around the corner as you search the ship for clues.

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Reminiscent of the old-school adventure games Damrey copies, the control scheme for the robot is limited to forward and backward movement with sharp turns left and right. When you aren’t moving, you can use the analog stick to search rooms and corridors for items, but there is almost no use of the touch screen throughout the game. While these controls may frustrate those hoping for precision movement, they feel accurate to the game’s old-school style. When you inevitably overshoot a door, though, it does mean that it takes a little extra time to maneuver yourself back to it. Your robot also has a limited, one-slot inventory to bring items around, which may sound annoying, but doesn’t prove to be too much of a hindrance, as you won’t have access to too many items at any given time, anyway.

As you wander through the ship, you will occasionally hear a strange clicking noise, warning you that a space leech is nearby. If you manage to find and exterminate all 20 leeches, you will unlock some extra information post-game; however, they can also be ignored as they are no danger to your robot. This extermination quest helps break up the monotony of the fetch quests, but even getting 100% completion only takes around two to three hours for the entire game.

The Starship Damrey is a dark, gloomy first-person adventure game that lives and dies by its ambiance. As you traverse the cold, metallic spaceship, you hear the occasional whir of machinery and opening of doors, but other than a few, short instances of interaction, you’re all alone, except for the space leeches. The game also does not offer any background music, which reinforces the feeling. These sequences of isolation are punctuated by a handful of jump-scares that will work on the high-strung, but lose their effect quickly after the first one or two. As a result, the suspense aspect of Damrey is not as strong as it was billed to be, as the sense of danger just isn’t there.

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Like the movement mechanics, the graphics also have a dated feel to them. The game has a few full-motion video scenes, not so common anymore, and the resolution is not on par with most 3DS games. When combined with everything else, the result is that you feel like you’re playing a game from 10 years ago. While this is great for creating a feeling of nostalgia, it may not be enough for most gamers.

Unfortunately, the suspense that The Starship Damrey starts off with fizzles out by the end, replaced by a much weaker urge to solve the mystery behind the events onboard. The game simply does not live up to its potential, both as a thriller and as an adventure. While the writing itself is good, it is wrapped up in an otherwise-mediocre game.

Story: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Graphics: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
Gameplay: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆
Audio: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆
Balance/Difficulty: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
Intangibles: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
Overall: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

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