The first two chapters of Decay introduced a twisted world illuminated by stark, neon lights, and featured a slowly unraveling, brooding story centered around an amnesiac suicide victim, ghosts, a serial killer and that unforgettable decrepit doll. It should come as no shock to anyone that Part 3 is a lot like the previous two, which means it has more of everything that made the first two parts so enjoyable, along with a bit of what made them occasionally gratingly frustrating.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Decay is essentially a point-and-click adventure game from the mid-90s that was somehow buried in a time capsule, exhumed, and is being released in episodic format. Being the third entry in a series, this would make a horrendously awful entry-point, so definitely investigate the the first part (which was recently reduced to a modest $1).
There really isn’t all that much to say about Part 3 that hasn’t already been said about the first two parts. If you enjoyed their mixture of creepy-as-all-hell atmosphere and puzzle solving, then you should already be downloading this chapter. It’s a direct continuation of the story, and the puzzle-based gameplay remains unaltered. The puzzles are logical and satisfying for the most part, although one two seemed a bit too cryptic and will undoubtedly elevate your blood pressure.
Although Part 3 is similar to the first two parts, there are a handful of minor tweaks and improvements. The game opens with a rather strange segment where the player has direct control over the protagonist for the first time in the series. It’s a very scripted sequence, but it’s interesting to see the gorgeously detailed environment actually moving fluidly as opposed to merely in stills, and the laborious breathing of the protagonist does a great job of setting the tone for the game.
There are also a few graphical improvements that make the desolate, dreary rooms feel a bit more animated. Ropes sway, shadows shift and gurgle, and a handful of other minor touches really bring the whole environment to life. The game continues to be oppressively bleak and does a fantastic job of creating atmosphere through its dramatic pacing, flickering lighting and the always-superb soundtrack, but it does have a few random shock moments where something suddenly pops up to shock the player. The random scripted jump scenes kind of feel a bit cheesy and unnecessary, but they definitely add to the tension and I did rather embarrassingly yelp when one caught me off guard, much to the delight of my girlfriend.
What ultimately makes Decay- Part 3 so satisfying is that it finally sheds a bit of light on the story that has remained eerily mysterious over the first two parts. I don’t want to give anything away, but by the end of the this chapter most of the mysteries that have been building are finally woven together into a satisfyingly coherent narrative. The game peaks right as it concludes and leads into what will hopefully be the final chapter of this delightful foray into this nostalgic nightmare.
Decay – Part 3 was provided for review by Shining Gate Software. It is available for 240 MS points ($3).