Parents' Guide to

Decay: The Mare - Episodes 1-3

By Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Disappointing horror game is bloody, unscary, and confusing.

Game Mac, Windows, Xbox 360 2015
Decay: The Mare - Episodes 1-3 Poster Image

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Decay: The Mare is an ill-conceived, clumsily executed, largely unscary horror adventure. It starts promisingly enough by making the hero a disturbed young man with a drug problem, which could have provided lots of interesting character motivation, but it falls back on a pile of predictable, uninteresting horror clichés. Players are forced into dark, dingy halls or rooms with grainy, hard-to-see graphics in an attempt to set a spooky atmosphere. You're given very limited interactivity with the environment, which makes exploration tedious and boring. The game also packs very confusing navigation, particularly when you're exiting rooms -- half the time the camera faces the direction you're headed, while the other half it automatically turns toward the door you just exited, which leads to lots of frustration and confusion. Add in wooden dialogue that feels like it was poorly translated and delivered (a sequence with a gang member is particularly embarrassing), and you get the sense that this game was flawed all around.

The Mare saves itself by providing you with an on-screen hint button that either makes a flashing indicator appear telling you which way to go or displays (variably useful) hint text. Few players could get through the game without it. The game also builds up to clever puzzles and a legitimate scare or two over the course of its three episodes, which is rewarding but ultimately feels unsatisfying. Overall, Decay: The Mare feels like a rough prototype of a game rather than a finished product. Much more time should have been spent thinking about the main character's goals and motives as well as nailing down the underlying mystery.

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