Horror tales are not always scary but regretfully sorrowful. Death Mark depicts the dark side of reality and the sad truth for women and children living in a man’s world, particularly in a patriarchal society like Japan.
I finished playing Death Mark (PS4 version), a visual novel game. I was pleasantly surprised by the game because I didn’t expect what I was expecting. No, this game did not give me the chills, did not mess with my mind, or give me a cheap haunted house thrill. Instead, the game left me pondering about Japan’s society as a whole. There were many mature themes posed in the game.
There are 6 chapters total in the PS4 version (I don’t know about the vita version). The content of the game is decently proportioned (I hate playing long games). Story flows well into each chapters. One thing I really enjoyed about the game is the characters illustration. All of them are interesting, including the monster designs. In the game, people just keep popping up in the mansion at night. The mansion resembles the mansion in Resident Evil. Unexpected visitors arrive at the mansion after obtaining a mysterious mark. To get rid of the mark they must defeat the spirit that gave it to them in the first place. Time is ticking. So there is some urgency in the game; your life and those around you are on the line.
Oddly, the gameplay reminds me of a guessing game I had with the former boyfriend who is Japanese. Cultural differences was the downfall of the relationship. Let’s just say, I am used to speaking my mind as that’s what Americans are encouraged to do. One time we went out to eat and there was a fruit fly in my rice so I told the boyfriend, thinking we could get a new bowl of rice. He just took my rice bowl and gave me his. The right thing to do was to continue eating without letting him know, so I don’t offend him. They say a person with sense know how to read air. You can see honne tataemae taking effect in the game. For instance, in Chapter 2, we find a suicidal man in the woods, on the verge of killing himself. Player is given a selection of choices to answer his questions. Finding the right words to ease an emotionally unstable person is hard. What are you suppose to say to a stranger who wants to take his life? I just kept guessing. I guess, I just don’t have much common sense.
I have found some of the choices sort of irrelevant from time to time and wouldn’t say the gameplay is its biggest strength: after all, this is a visual novel. But then, again, I am relatively new to the genre, so I can’t critique much on the gameplay. The game is engaging enough to keep me “flipping the pages”. It’s the player duty to read the text in each chapter carefully. Reading the text in each chapter closely provides clues on how to defeat the boss. The gameplay style is definitely not intended for muscleheads who like to push buttons out of nervousness and expect to win. Now that is not a derogatory statement I just pointed out because I can be a bit of a musclehead myself. Having good reflexes don’t matter in this game. Instead, the game leans towards detective skills. This is the type of game would be fun to play with a group of female friends or with your significant other, or alone in the dark is okay too. It’s not that scary. Trust me. If I can do it, you can too.
Overall, I enjoyed the game. My only gripe about this game is the portrayal of women. The frail woman is not that weak. She is stronger than she really appears. But that’s okay, let the boys do their manly job. I’ll just sit and watch Satoru Mashita do all the work.
Note: Revised 1/27/2021