Death Mark‘s title may give you a clue to what the story is centred around but I will explain it anyway. It seems in Tokyo’s H City, a terrifying rumour is circling; anybody who bears the ‘cursed mark’ will die. It is said to resemble the look of a dog bite and appear randomly on the person’s skin and bring on certain death. It’s just a rumour right? Wrong. You awaken having lost all of your memories, standing in front of an unknown house, you look down at your wrist to see the mark there. The doors to the house swing open. Inside, somewhere, will be the answers to surviving the inevitable…
Death Mark is a visual novel with a survival horror aspect to it. It relies heavily on its narrative, so expect a lot of reading but don’t let that put you off. It has an interesting story and honestly, I found it a relief to not have to play. It was nice to sit down and relax, despite the nature of the game. You do get to make vital decisions where it matters most, you get to choose where you go in certain areas and get to choose who comes along with you, you also get to choose certain narrative responses and that can change certain events for the game. You will even sometimes come across ‘Life or Death’ encounters where, if you make the wrong decision you will die and will have to replay from your last check point and believe me, these moments are intense as there is usually only 1 correct answer out of 3. Not only that but there is also a timer on these events in the form of Soul Power, if this hits 0, it’s game over.
The gameplay style in Death Mark is quite unique in that, well, you don’t really do a lot. It’s a visual novel, which I personally have never experienced before, but I really enjoyed the mechanics of it all. I was so engrossed. After experiencing what is usually an intense story segment you will often have a building or area to search through for various clues or items. This is where I found it particularly interesting. You have to search through each room/area yourself. With a torch lighting the way, you will come across various items and notes to help you along a specific area and it’s completely up to you to find these items. The game won’t help you out here. You may have to combine certain items together to progress or even use a specific item to open a door or cupboard.
Now, the game is split into various chapters, each concerning around a specific paranormal entity and eventually, at the end of each chapter, that paranormal entity will confront you in some way or another. These boss battles play very similarly to the Life or Death situations. You must make decisions based on all your findings throughout that chapter, paying attentions to certain details or reading certain notes you find can really make or break the end battle. So, pay attention to everything. Oh, and each chapter has a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ending. The bad ending usually ending in a particular character dying or even multiple people dying.
Although Death Mark’s story didn’t blow me away, I still thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. It was a nice change of scenery for me, it’s a totally unique experience and though I wouldn’t play through the game again (due to already knowing the ‘main’ points during the game) I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of horror. It’s not ridiculously scary, it did however make me feel on edge constantly. That may have something to do with me sitting in the dark but still! Now, the one bad thing to mention in my experience with the game. I did encounter a glitch in which I couldn’t progress through a certain level, a certain prompt just wasn’t happening no matter what I did which resulted in me having to start the entire game again, which was extremely annoying. Hopefully, this isn’t something that occurs often. The story was engaging, the gameplay was intriguing and it was the perfect length, in my opinion. You should definitely give Death Mark a go if you’re into ghost stories and things alike. Oh, one more thing, it is extremely Japanese… You will see what I mean.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe to our mailing list
Get the latest game reviews, news, features, and more straight to your inbox
Thank you for subscribing to Bonus Stage.
Something went wrong.