The Starship Damrey Review: It’s Dark Out Here

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Another space game review? Well, it’ll be a quick look at this title. So hang on to your hats as we dive in…

  • Spaceship Damrey (3DS eshop)
  • Developed by Kazuya Asano and Takemaru Abiko, Published by Level5
  • Price: $7.99/€7.99/£7.19

So, what is Starship Damrey? If you haven’t heard of Level5′s Guild series then let me summarize. The Guild series is a compilation of video games created by notable video game designers in Japan. The first bundle (Guild-01) was released around May 2012 in Japan and contains Liberation Maiden by Goichi Suda of Grasshopper Manufacture, Aero Porter by Yoot Saito, Crimson Shroud by Yasumi Matsuno known for his works on Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy VII, and Rental Bukiya de Omasse by Yoshiyuki Hirai who is not a developer oddly enough but rather a comedian. Three out of the four games were eventually released to the West on the 3DS eshop and were met with open arms… well, I have played all three games myself and I do like each of the three games available for their distinct styles and concepts. But that is for another time perhaps.

Fast forward to today in May 2013 and we see the first of the Guild-02 collection reaching Western digital stores. Level5 had released their second compilation in March 2013 and gamers over here couldn’t wait to see the eventual Western release announcement. It came, everyone rejoiced and here we are. So the collection begins first off with a first-person adventure game: Starship Damrey, developed by a couple of dudes from Chunsoft who are particularly famous for their work on “Sound Novel” games released exclusively in Japan.

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I’ll only put up scant few screenshots partly because no one likes spoilers, but mainly because the game is quite short. So drastically short that I cried out for more lashing out at my bedroom wall. Seriously though, a playthrough will net you around 2-3 hours, a couple more perhaps if you aren’t well versed in adventuring in games. Also there is very little re-playability; once you’ve collected all the items you can and found the ‘True Ending’ as most games of this genre tend to have, that’s it. The feeling I had upon completing the game went something like: “That’s it? But I wanna play some more!”

Well, that really is the only major complaint I have of Starship Damrey. Everything else I liked. The puzzles were great, logical and could be solved by thinking things through. There is a bit of pixel hunting… well, not quite as bad as that particular description really. More like overlooked items/locations mainly because the game is dark. Oh so very dark. I’ll get to that but note that most things are quite accessible, a quick tip then if you like when you do get a little stuck: Explore everything and don’t forget to look down. The controls are… a mix of movement using the d-pad and a cursory exploration facilitated with the circle-pad. Generally solid, although one has to say during exploring the turning circle is a little limited when facing a particular cardinal direction, so you will have to exit exploration mode to turn left/right and re-enter exploration mode to be able to scan places just out of your line of sight.

Music is minimal but the sound, oh lords. I can see the developer’s skill now. The sound adds so much to the heavy atmosphere of the ship as you’re exploring. Plus the collectibles make a particularly unnerving death rattle as you sidle past them acting as their location indicator. The sound is quite jarring and there are plenty of times I jumped the sudden aural stimuli. Of course, there are other scares the game has in store, which brings us to another point about the game. Just on my part, I would class this game as a Mystery adventure, with some light Horror overtones. Emphasis on the game being adventure here, you will do quite a bit of walking through the ship’s dark corridors you initially find yourself in…

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And that brings us nicely to the story. In short, you wake up not knowing who you are and without too much hand-holding you’ve got to find out what happened in the ship you find yourself stuck in. I won’t go describing any further than that but suffice to say that I found the story wholly entertaining. It’s just that it too short! The game has a great story with good puzzles, but it’s all over too quickly. Also another thing to point out, upon completion the issue of how the ship got into the situation it is in is still left in a shroud of mystery. Perhaps maybe having an additional hour’s worth of prologue gameplay after the main game has finished would tack on some much-needed closure to the story, but oh well.

One thing to keep in mind, despite the length of the game, I have enjoyed my time with it. This game reminds me of a game on the DS that is often overlooked and goes unmentioned in the DS’s vast library of gems: Theresa. In a similar vein of first-person adventure, Theresa takes place in some booby-trapped dungeon and you have to try get out while trying to piece together what went through the place you’re trapped in. I won’t say much more on the subject as I plan to do a DLC on this in the future… but note that after finishing the main story (which is quite substantial by itself) there unlocks an additional chapter that relates a little to the main story, but is effectively a whole different one altogether. My point bringing this is up is just to highlight the utterly short length of Starship Damrey. Bit of a trip, beating around the bush like that but whatever.

Summary

Great atmosphere, great sound, fun and logical puzzles, entertaining story, all in all let down by the fact that there isn’t enough of them. The game really is too short and the extras after beating the game doesn’t bring much to relieve the hole left after the game abruptly ends.

Pros: Story, Sound and Puzzles

Cons: TOO SHORT

Verdict: 6/10 no question. It’s just… oh I’m starting to sound like a broken record now… too short! Seriously, add in an extra couple of hours of gameplay worth and bam, solid seven or higher. As it stands, it feels more like an extended demo than a fleshed out game, effectively a missed opportunity to bring a great mystery/horror adventure game to the 3DS library. So my advice to anyone reading is to wait and hope for a discount on this game in the future. Especially if you like adventure games, this you can’t really miss out… although I’m sure you can wait for a discount.

Also… a PSA if you like: Watch out for one of the upcoming games in the Guild-02 collection. And that game is… Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale! No surprise there perhaps, but keep in mind that this title almost didn’t make it out of Japan. Something to chew on as we wait impatiently for this title to arrive.

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Comments

  1. Lan

    May 19, 2013

    It’s a good story with a nice twist at the end. And I get what you mean by ‘LOOK DOWN’! Took me a while to get that. The sound of the robot moving got kinda annoying though. And definitely, too damn short!

    p.s How’s home ;)?
    Lan recently posted…The Starship Damrey Review: It’s Dark Out HereMy Profile

    • Onery

      May 21, 2013

      Haha, I guess there is that (the sound I mean). It would be nice if there was a sequel… but meh.

      Also, home is same ol’ same ol’. Look forward to a WiiU though when you get back. :D

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