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'Morningstar' and 'Decay: The Mare' are snack-sized games bursting with point-and-click nostalgia

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 24, 2015
This weekend I took a break from big-budget, explosion fare to dig through the backlog of indie games we've accumulated since the start of the year. I wanted something small and easily consumable, and two titles stood out--Morningstar: Descent to Deadrock and Decay: The Mare.

But even for veterans, it's a decent little game if like me you're hunting for something short and sweet. That's not always what I'm looking for — I love digging into a seventy hour RPG on occasion — but sometimes it's nice to sit down, start a game, and then watch the credits roll two hours later.

Save for two extensive CG cutscenes (at the beginning and end), the game is pretty light on flashy effects. Most of the screens are entirely static, which gives the game a very traditional 90s feel. As for the voice-acting...well, for people who've just been through a crash landing, lost a crew member, and are themselves on the verge of death, it's actually funny how calm these guys sound. We're talking B-tier voice acting at best.

The game could also use a key to highlight hot spots, though items do highlight as you move the cursor around. Still, I did get stuck at one point because I'd missed what was in retrospect a fairly obvious area, but I'd failed to mouse over it and thus spent about ten minutes wandering back and forth.

It's a little quibble though. I mean, the game still only took two hours. It's not like we're discussing Sierra-level pixel-hunting here.

Bottom line: There's nothing groundbreaking here, but Morningstar's a solid little point-and-click for fans of the genre: Very polished, easy on the eyes, and the puzzles are as logical as you'll ever find in the adventure genre.

Decay: The Mare review

Like Morningstar, this game has an exceptionally misleading title for some reason. The Steam forums are full of people cracking jokes about female horses, and I don't blame them — I've now completed the entire game and have no idea why "The Mare" is part of the title.

Regardless, Decay: The Mare is the follow-up to the Xbox's Decay series from a few years back. Like those games, Decay: The Mare is a horror-themed point-and-click done episodically, although this PC collection brings all three pieces together into one package.

I'd love to see what developer Shining Gate Software could do with an actual budget sometime. Decay: The Mare is most frustrating because it establishes a fantastic (albeit clichéd) atmosphere, and then mostly squanders it on cheap jump scares and a paper-thin plot.

If anything, the first episode is strongest because you know it's meant to set up the rest. You can forgive so much — the thin plot, the lack of context, the quirky horror moments that don't quite work — because it feels like the game is going somewhere.

The problem is when the credits roll two hours later, you look back and realize everything about the game is forgettable. The "horror" never quite gels into anything genuinely scary, the few mysteries that get answered are tepid, and the quality of the puzzles slowly devolves into the game shuffling you from room to boring room.

 

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