I thought you knew what you were doing, Doctor.
Developer: D’Avekki Studios Ltd
Publisher: D’Avekki Studios Ltd
Genre: Lovecraftian Murder Mystery FMV
Type: Single Player
Release date: May 19, 2017
Once you find the genres you love, you absolutely cannot get enough of them. It leaves you looking through pre-existing games to see which ones will most likely be enjoyable and checking if more are going to be released. You begin craving them more and more as you become strongly aware of what makes a good game and a bad game in that specific genre. FMV games are one of those genres for me. I adore them, but I also have to check if they are worth playing first because they often come up short.
In The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, you come in right after the events of a dramatic event. A psychiatrist by the name of Doctor Dekker was violently murdered in his office by one of his patients. But which one? No one knows except the one that did the act. This is where you come in, not as some cop asking them questions, but taking Dekker’s spot as a psychiatrist for the same patients he had – the very same group of patients where the killer is hiding.
The way the developers decided to do this game is very interesting. You have six patients to talk to, one of which is your assistant going for grief counseling, and then the others: Nathan, Marianna, Elin, Claire, Bryce and Jaya. However, you don’t get overwhelmed. The interviews consist of simply talking to them by themselves, as you are the Doctor here. These don’t come off so much as interviews since you only get one appointment. This makes it extremely easy to get caught up with them and interested in their lives and conditions. They are all so different, that they leave an impression on you early on just by the way they talk. There are also optional patients you can talk to that make an impression with their short stay. The game shows you that Doctor Dekker had more patients that were also affected, but they do not have enough significance to be part of the investigation.
These patients almost seem to suck you in with how their questions are answered and how open ended they are, especially when you are meant to ask questions about their responses. They are also separate entities from each other, not really meeting one another unless they are together in the waiting room. They are connected by the one and only Doctor Dekker. You empathize with them as you get more involved, seeing part of yourself in each person. It is also interesting to hear their different opinions on Doctor Dekker, as you will never know him personally. This gives you a character of your own in the game because the opinions you enter will affect the opinions of the patients, thus affecting the gameplay with their attitude towards you. It even goes so far as implying that you are sitting down, like you probably are, right as you are playing the game.
It is very important with FMV games to have good acting along with an ideal atmosphere to coincide with what is going on, and it does not disappoint in these sections. The acting is great, as they do keep up with their character consistently. The mood of the atmosphere goes with the mystery of the game, and how the possibility of a Cthulhu monster is somewhat real and influencing this world.
Your interactions consist of asking questions to your patients and hearing them out. Using a text bar, you can input those questions so that certain patients can see if it lines up with what they will say. This mostly focuses on certain keywords it will look for, whether it will only be one or a combination of two or more. Some are not even available unless a certain question or type of information has been asked. You also get two logs, one consisting of all the questions you asked and the other of the questions that you got responses for. So, if you want to watch a response again you can easily do it.
As you continue talking, the color by the patient’s name will turn orange to signal that you can continue on or be curious about their life and ask more questions. When the indicator is green, there is nothing left for you to get out of them in the session. If you have no idea of what to ask, a hint system has been incorporated. No hidden strings, if you need help just ask the game.
However, learning about your patients does have strings attached. You and your patients have Insanity Points. These are based on your interactions and decreases or increases at different levels. One of the common increases for you is bringing every patient to a green status. For patients, it is to encourage their use of their powers. How many insanity points you and the patients will have by the end will determine how you guys will end up.
I would also like to bring up another game that somewhat uses the same type of interface and characters, but failed. How to Shoot A Criminal, uses a similar interface where keywords bring up newspapers or CDs that correspond with what is said in them. Along with this, the number of characters is overwhelming as they all call for attention when only one needs it. With The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, however, this is solved by giving attention to all the characters with the excuse of your job description. The intimacy of questioning them yourself and for them to be right in front of you in the moment, helps you remember them and their story easily with their simple connection to Doctor Dekker making each person significant as a cast member. They both have problems with the interface but at least Infectious Madness shows that the response has been achieved already and which one it is rather than bringing it up again and not showing what you are missing.
The only bad thing is that the interface is janky at some points. Sometimes the game will think you have asked a different question than you actually did, and reveal information you do not know about. Then you have to scramble to figure out what they are talking about and determine the keyword needed to unlock the response you were originally going for. Luckily, this usually happens once or twice, but it is annoying when it happens. Some questions also just lead to the same information you get from a previously asked question. This can be a problem, as it will seem like nothing needs to be done further. You’ll get information like “Hey, Marianna said that the club she goes to sells Vodka shots”, but then why would I need to ask her about the club to get the same information? The only extra info you get is that they do great black lighting.
+ Easily pulls you in
+ Acting and atmosphere
+ The killer is different with each playthrough
– Interface can be annoying as you try to find the right question to ask
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is a memorable FMV game as it provides us with a murder mystery to solve as we talk to our patients. Although the interface can be an obstacle to continue, the desire to find out more about your patients is enough motivation to keep playing. If the developers decide to make more games, then I can’t wait to see what else they have up their sleeves.