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About the StoryThe infection has spread. They are coming.
11th Place - 16th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2010)
Jay Is Games
The narration here is, on the whole, pretty well done. It manages to describe and establish atmosphere within each area without hammering you in the face with massive text blocks, which also keeps the story clipping along at a steady pace.
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In this regard, DIVIS MORTIS succeeds quite well. If ONE EYE OPEN contained the horror and surreal aspects of SILENT HILL, then DIVIS MORTIS surely contains all the "survival" feelings. As you search the hospital for escape, you see how your, ah, "predecessors" fared. This environment makes it easy to believe that you are in peril--so when you finally encounter scary things, you're scared of 'em! This is just the thing you want in a survival horror game.
This game is thoroughly grounded in realism. The medical jargon is convincing, and state of the hospital (and the story it tells) rings very true. My hat's off to the author, though, for a scene in one of the elevators--one of my very favorite parts: (Spoiler - click to show)In one elevator, you pick up an emergency phone--AND IT WORKS. Major kudos to her for this part; without it, I think a lot of the realism would have been lost.
However, like ONE EYE OPEN, I feel like DIVIS suffers just a touch from a tone problem: on occasion the player character shows some snark/humor that feels a little too funny for the dire occasion. It doesn't bother me any more or less than it did in ONE EYE OPEN, but in EYE I felt like the game could get away with it a little more, since it overall was a more quirky setting (flesh. eating. washing. machine. That is all.).
DIVIS has such a cohesive feeling of isolation and caution, the one-liners felt out of place--perhaps the author didn't think her setting would be enough to hold the player's interest? If the PC had been played completely straight I think we might have gotten an extra taste of horror. I even wish it ended on a more serious or personal note than it did.
My other issues with DIVIS can hopefully be seen as compliments. First, I wish it were longer! Second, I wish there were a few more puzzles, or maybe more zombie-interaction puzzles (distracting a zombie, or really sneaking by some, perhaps?). It sounds like the author isn't a programmer by trade, so I can completely understand why the puzzles aren't too complex. The environment makes up for these shortcomings, though.
With its short-to-midsized length and reasonable puzzles, this game might have been relegated to the "Play in one evening" category--though an exceptional one due to the thought put into the setting. However! The ending really adds to the replay value.
In short: Horror buff? Zombie fan? Scenery hound? PLAY IT!
I like the writing, which I found to be eerie with tons of little touches you should find in a zombie apocalypse scenario (such as the severed head in the stove). The author tackles the abandonitis well with little hints in the background that suggests that the survivors may have turned on each other, and that someone went to the effort of pre-looting and cleaning up bodies. Kudos.
What it leaves me wondering on is why I finished the game with only 89 points. The puzzles were all fairly straightforward, there were none I had to go to hints for, and they were intuitive. It took me a while to figure out a couple of them (such as how to get to the second floor) but that satisified me even more as I solved them.
There was a slight (perhaps purposeful or not) ability to cheat a bit- using GET ALL tends to grab the important items, which gave me some hints as to what to grab. (Though this is deceptive- there are objects you end up needing that don't fall under the "all" category). Also looking behind objects gives no response, no error message, which left me worried that there were items I was supposed to look behind, as the command was parsed with no error message for the wrong things.
I was impressed with the way the zombie "cure" issue was tackled. There is a bit of an ending twist, though I guessed it right away (perhaps having been tainted by 9:05), though when I tried an action which I thought made sense given the twist, the game told me I was on the wrong track, so I did a little eye roll when the twist was revealed later.
I was a little bummed that it seemed like the only way to progress was to act violently towards a survivor, thought it made sense. Perhaps there was another way that I missed.
There are also items that you get that seem important, but perhaps are not, such as a variety of objects you can wear to cover parts of your body. There are also a few issues where you can screw yourself up if you do things in the wrong order. This adds to the flavor though in some cases.
All in all a good game. Wouldn't mind seeing an expanded zombie game, perhaps in a larger area. Interested in seeing other works by the author.
First off, this particular zombie apocalypse puts its emphasis squarely on the "apocalypse" part. The horror comes more from solitude, atmosphere, and despair than from "Oh crap that dead guy totally wants to eat me." The prose is tight, and efficient, never letting you forget that you are (almost) alone in a dead world, balancing on the brink of joining the uncountable tally of the dead.
But it's not as oppressive and fatalist as that sounds. Dally wisely (and expertly, I believe) straddles the line between levity and horror, never letting the game slip too far in either direction. Think Evil Dead 2, as opposed to its trilogy-neighbors.
So as a story, I dig Divis Mortis, and I hope you will too. As a game? It succeeded for me. The puzzles were intuitive, with no Insane Troll Logic. I only needed the thorough built-in hint system once, for a bit near the end. I knew what needed to be done, I just expected it to be more complicated than it was.
The bottom line: Play this game now, even if you're sick of zombies.
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