Donum


I have been playing Donum for 3 minutes, and I'm very impressed. The game opens with a lengthy cut scene, explaining that you've come into possession of a cursed box, and are doomed to wander a hellish dream-temple with only the slimmest hope of escape. Bummer. The audio and visual presentation is outstanding, perfectly putting over the goth horror vibes of the Hellraiser franchise to which it is no way legally connected. The game itself is a text adventure, with sparse text accompanied by excellent monochrome graphics. 

I have been playing Donum for 20 minutes, and I'm annoyed. I've made it to Night 3, without any idea of what I'm doing. The text-adventure component is beyond simple - the game is a maze, with instant death waiting if you move into the wrong room. It's a lovely-looking maze, no doubt, and the lurid graphics and text accompanying your death at the hands of the Cenobites Guddom are top notch. It just doesn't seem like much of a game.

I've been playing Donum for 45 minutes, and I'm rather enjoying it. The problem earlier was one of expectation - this isn't really a text-adventure in the traditional sense. It's a logic puzzle, like a spatial Suduko. Once you figure that out, and you start to parse the text clues in the location descriptions, you can start actually playing. It's fun, if you like logic puzzles and graph paper!

I've been playing Donum for an hour, and I'm furious. There's an absolutely egregious bit of verb-guessing at the end of Night 3 that is almost enough to make me give up entirely. The game eschews any kind of text-game puzzling, but then trips you up with the worst part of the genre : picking the right verb. Mind you, with that one word puzzle out of the way, I'm onto Part 2. The game has 3 parts, each covering several 'nights'. If you die, you get to restart the current night - but the maze is randomised, so you still need to apply your logic-solving anew. Each part introduces some extra complication, and each night is a little harder then before. My repeated deaths as a result of the sudden reversion from puzzle to text parser nightmare have allowed me to finesses the clues and figure out that there's a timer ( classily tied to the soundtrack ), and how to read some of those mysterious symbols. Game on.

I've been playing Donum now for two hours, having pushed through the end. A nasty, but in hindsight fair, puzzle on Night 4 had me stumped, but after that it the twist added in the later levels added tension without feeling too difficult. 

Phew. So - this is one you're going to have to pay for - just €2.50 on itch.io

Is it worth it? Well, yes. At its core, the game itself is a simple logic puzzle with fairly basic appeal, but with a few additional snags that by turns enhance and ruin the experience. It is, however, elevated by an extraordinary presentation, with music and visuals working together to enunciate the gloomy horror mood. So long as you go in expecting a pure logic game, and not a traditional text adventure, you'll have a good, if spooky, time.

 

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