Thursday, June 7

Review: The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker [Nintendo Switch eShop]


I’ve been shocked at the fact that the Switch has been seeing a real resurgence of FMV games, and generally ones that have some degree of gimmickry to them but have also been surprisingly good. Between the general quality of the production values, the solid acting, and the lack of delay in everything loading the experiences have managed to tell a compelling story without the technology getting in the way. While the same things generally remain true in the case of The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, this time around the main thrust of the story gets a bit lost in the weeds... making for a challenging game to evaluate.


Without much introduction you’re roughly thrown right into the thick of things, apparently having taken over a psychiatric practice for the title Doctor Dekker, who was very recently found murdered. Through your interactions with several of his patients your general goal is to try to unravel precisely what’s happening and who murdered Doctor Dekker, all while struggling to come to terms with a whole lot of weirdness going on. Ancient gods, the fringes of theoretical science, and a roster of patients who believe they have various powers are all thrown at you. What’s a doctor to do?


It turns out for the most part you’ll muddle through the experience likely primarily using the question prompts provided for you. These will mostly prompt video sequences where the person you’re interacting with will reveal some piece of their story, information about the former Doctor, and just about everything you can imagine. To be clear, in general the acting on the part of pretty well all of the patients is very good, and it’s easy to find yourself going a bit down the rabbit hole with some of the lines of questions. How far you go or which specific turns you decide to take is up to you to some minor degree but in general there’s a lot to process and you’ll only get most of the story, to get some added nuggets you’ll need to come up with some questions yourself.


This is kind of where the game falls down a bit, as it very much falls into the classic text adventure traps of expecting users to universally know what turns of phrase, specific keywords, and questions will tease out what you may want to know. The game tries to be helpful by giving you hints through a notepad, italicizing some key words in the subtitled text, and sometimes trying to be pretty obvious about something you should ask but the combination of entering the text being cumbersome and a few repeated failures to get results are hard not to be disheartened by. Beyond this perhaps the game’s biggest problem is that honestly the tangents and individual characters are more interesting than trying to figure out who the murderer is.


It’s actually been a struggle to figure out how to score this game because in general it has left me conflicted. On the one hand the acting is very good, the individual patients have some fascinating elements to their stories, and it turns out there’s even some solid motivation to play through more than once. One the other your main purpose, finding the murderer, may be one of the least interesting things to the experience and you can find yourself in a weird place where the prompts can almost make you feel like you’re on rails but at the same time trying to pose your own questions is often aggravating. If you’re down for a weird experience with some strange people, opportunities to explore some possibilities, and quite a bit of the unexpected it may be worth a shot. If not, I’d say the likes of The Bunker and Late Shift are better at being more traditional experiences.

Score: 7

Pros:
  • Uniformly well-acted
  • Interesting and strange characters
  • Has a unique way to make replaying the game viable

Cons:
  • The rabbit holes are generally more interesting than the main plot
  • Trying to make your own questions can be aggravating
  • Could make some people uncomfortable in a variety of ways