Decarnation is a predominantly narrative-driven horror game with an emphasis on story. The gameplay is nearly nonexistent and mostly serves as a vehicle for the plot, but there is a puzzle every now and then. This a game that prefers experiences rather than exciting gameplay.
In Paris. Gloria is a struggling cabaret dancer dealing with messy relationships and poor mental health. After she takes a new job, she finds herself in a psychological nightmare that may break her psyche.
Decarnation’s environments look great, but the game’s locations don’t last long as players jump from spot to spot, with only a puzzle or two in every location. While the goal might to be make players feel like they are mentally being pulled around, it actually hinders the experience. These settings look great and it would be nice to spend more time with them.
Fans of psychological thrillers like Perfect Blue will likely enjoy Decarnation’s take on the genre. If the game shines anywhere, it’s in the storytelling and character writing. Still, the writing is a bit off, especially when you consider that the protagonist laments her age when she is still in her 20s. It’s likely just a cultural divide, but the message that Decarnation is trying to give isn’t exactly inspiring.
The lack of an inspiring message isn’t all that surprising though when one considers how hopeless Decarnation can feel. It’s unsettling and traumatic and aims to make players uncomfortable not through traditional video game horror, but through effective storytelling. Decarnation won’t scare the player much, but it will certainly stick with the player.
If players are into visual novels or other narrative-heavy experiences, they will likely find plenty to like in Decarnation. Still, the experience is held back by lackluster gameplay that struggles to be called gameplay at all. This one has a niche audience and lacks the appeal of most horror games.