Genre: Horror-themed mystery with FMV
Expected release date: April 2017
Ever fancied yourself an armchair psychologist, or maybe an amateur detective? You can put both of those skillsets to the test in The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, a forthcoming game from husband-and-wife team D’Avekki Studios. The game combines FMV sequences with a question-and-answer mechanic to let the player uncover each characters’ personality and secrets.
You play as a therapist who has been called in to replace another mental health professional, Doctor Dekker, who was recently found murdered in his office. The police found no signs of forced entry, which means the murderer was either one of Doctor Dekker’s patients or his office assistant. You are tasked with two goals: to work with Dekker’s patients to help them with their mental problems, and to use your position of authority to try to discover which of the patients murdered Dekker. The full game will contain six interviewable suspects in addition to a few secondary characters, all captured with Full Motion Video, and the killer will be chosen at random at the start of each game.
I got to question two of Dekker’s patients, Nathan and Marianna, as well as his office assistant Jaya. I did my interviewing by selecting a patient’s name from a menu and typing questions into a textbox to see if the character had something to say. Theoretically this textbox works on a keyword system so that you can type in either, “What do you know about Dekker’s murder?” and “Dekker Murder” and get the same response, but I found that the fully phrased questions seemed to work more effectively. Sometimes the patients will ask you questions that necessitate a response — I often missed these conversational cues and can’t yet see how my responses will impact the plot, but the developers say that this is a key component of the gameplay.
As the characters gave their testimonials, I scribbled possible keywords down on a notepad (like a real therapist!), but I proved terrible at guessing the correct key phrases. Fortunately, the game allows you to type “hint” into the question box and receive guidance on a topic to keep the conversation going when you get stuck. I ended up using the hint option a lot (and frequently ran up against the cooldown period, which spaces out hints so that you can’t receive a prompt more than once every two minutes). I’m hoping the full version of the game will give some guidance at the beginning on strategies for questioning suspects so that I won’t need as much hand-holding.
I found the beta of The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker to be a bit difficult to navigate but promising in its storytelling goals. I had some initial difficulties with the interface when it came to identifying which characters to talk to, but I suspect this confusion will be addressed before the full game releases. After a session each with Nathan and Marianna I had already begun to dig into their respective pasts and raise some interesting questions about their lives. The acting in the video sequences is serviceable and will likely intensify as the mysteries unravel.
Just as things were starting to get surreal and interesting, I reached the end of the beta and found myself wanting more — which is just what a teaser should do. I’m looking forward to figuring out what these patients really know about their dead doctor when the full game releases