The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker Review

Games. I love the craft. 

When I think of FMV games, I can’t escape the long legacy and reputation of Night Trap. For gamers, a campy B-Movie romp which would soon be forgot and for the changing landscape of media and politics, a repulsive piece of work with gratuitous violence towards woman and so abhorrent it required a Senate Committee meeting culminating in the formation of the ESRB. Despite the fact that there was no filmed extreme acts of violence. It was silly fun reminiscent of the horror movies of the eighties but ironically, many of the committee members admitted to having not actually played the game almost as if it was an agenda against video games which continues to this day. The real irony in the story of Night Trap is in the quest to suppress the game, a mediocre game that would soon be forgotten was thrust into the public conscious into a level of infamy which resulted in a limited re-release twenty-five years later. FMV didn’t die after this. It remained a niche concept which consistently reared its head and as technology improved, so did the capabilities and immersion of FMV.

The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, a keyword driven FMV which is influenced heavily by Her Story.  Avoiding spoiler territory, the game deals with Lovecraftian themes of cosmicism which simply put, explores the idea of not only man’s insignificance, but his fragility, both physical and mental. So what better a stage to explore this in a natural process in than Psychiatry. You’re tasked as a replacement psychiatrist after the murder of the titular character Doctor Dekker. Your role to check in with his former patients and their bizarre issues, whilst at the same time solving Doctor Dekker’s murder. The draw here is the freeform keyword driven mechanic which makes up the conceit of gameplay and advances the story along. The games present a number of set questions but you are also free to ask your own questions and the AI will pick up key words in those sentences. It’s a unique idea which at times presents very convincingly and more often struggles to pick up on a particular syntax of the question, even if the subject was similar. If when presented with a beautiful woman or man you can ask anything to presents the temptation to ask some more shall we say, inappropriate questions then you aren’t alone and I quietly admit that when I booted up the game, it was the first thing I tried.

The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, a keyword driven FMV which is influenced heavily by Her Story.  Avoiding spoiler territory, the game deals with Lovecraftian themes of cosmicism which simply put, explores the idea of not only man’s insignificance, but his fragility, both physical and mental. So what better a stage to explore this in a natural process in than Psychiatry. You’re tasked as a replacement psychiatrist after the murder of the titular character Doctor Dekker. Your role to check in with his former patients and their bizarre issues, whilst at the same time solving Doctor Dekker’s murder. The draw here is the freeform keyword driven mechanic which makes up the conceit of gameplay and advances the story along. The games present a number of set questions but you are also free to ask your own questions and the AI will pick up key words in those sentences. It’s a unique idea which at times presents very convincingly and more often struggles to pick up on a particular syntax of the question, even if the subject was similar. If when presented with a beautiful woman or man you can ask anything to presents the temptation to ask some more shall we say, inappropriate questions then you aren’t alone and I quietly admit that when I booted up the game, it was the first thing I tried.

For the most part the actors are strong and believable with some clever subversions of expectation and these characters are ultimately more interesting, their resolutions are more interesting than the answers we find regarding the murder of Doctor Dekker. There is a concern that the heavy-handedness of the Lovecraftian themes undermine the genuine discussions possible about mental illness, whilst this was never problem for me the devolution of nuance is apparent. Equally there is clearly some thought in the execution of the cinematography which is the clear distinction of improvement in these contemporary FMV games. They feel more like movies or TV shows in their aesthetics. Where the game falls short for me is the immersion; between each question is a distinct cut to play the piece of the interview that has been queued up. In a game like Her Story this works as we are viewing interview fragments however here, the continuous cutting and often lack of a clear character through line is jarring. I never feel like I’m in one place talking to an individual.

Buying into the conceit of the game, the game does offer an interesting story through unique storytelling mechanics and whilst the individual parts aren’t always as strong as they can be, the whole is a compelling experience that any fan of a good mystery or psychology will find something to like here.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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