Death Mark: Preview and Everything you need to know about Aksys and Experience Inc.’s upcoming horror adventure game
Experience Inc. released Death Mark on Vita a while ago in Japan and unlike many of their releases that hit another platform first, this was built for PS Vita from the get go. It was an important release at the time for a variety of reasons which I will get to in a bit. Everyone expected NIS America to localise it because they work with Experience Inc. often but the horror visual novel adventure release has been localised for English release by Aksys Games and it is set to release for Halloween in the West. I’ve been playing it on both PS4 and Switch for review and here’s everything you need to know including my initial impressions after playing a few hours on both platforms. Everything here is spoiler free and the images I’ve included are with the text box hidden.
What is Death Mark?
Death Mark, known as Shiin in Japan, is a horror adventure game. There are choices that can often lead to a Game Over and quite a bit of exploration when you reach certain locations. It isn’t a pure visual novel but more of an adventure game that happens to have a big visual novel component.
Who is Experience Inc.?
Experience Inc. is a very interesting developer in Japan. They have been known to release some great dungeon RPGs like Stranger of Sword City and Demon Gaze II and are one of the few big supporters of Xbox in Japan. So far, we’ve had almost all their current titles released in English through NIS America and their partners.
What platforms is this releasing on with English language settings?
Having released in Japan on PS Vita initially before seeing an enhanced release on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, Aksys Games is localising all three versions of the game. The Vita version will get the new content through DLC while both the PS4 and Switch versions have all content from the start.
What about the Xbox One version?
Japan is seeing an Xbox One release and in the past, Experience Inc. has used the English localisation for Stranger of Sword City (LINK TO REVIEW) in the Japanese release and my physical copy from Japan is playable in English. Hopefully they do that here as well. Experience Inc. has been a big supporter of Xbox as a whole in Japan and while their games rarely make it to the West on Xbox (bizarre), the Stranger of Sword City patch gives me hope for the Xbox One version of Death Mark.
Is it getting a physical release and limited edition?
As of now, it is getting a digital only release in Europe (and EU regions) at launch. Aksys is working on a physical but there is no date for that. The North American release is physical and there even is a Limited Edition release on all 3 platforms. Check out the Limited Edition below with the English box art (that is pretty bad compared to the Japanese one pictured below the Limited Edition image)
North American Limited Edition:
Japanese box art:
Does it use any Switch specific features?
It does not use the touchscreen sadly. I hope this gets patched in. It does however have Cloud Save backup support and has after a recent patch for the digital version. It also has video capture support if you want to share some of those scarier moments.
How is the game so far?
Death Mark isn’t a pure visual novel like say Steins;Gate. It has some non reading gameplay as well in addition to the usual reading and decision making you see in pure visual novels. I’d call it an adventure game visual novel hybrid. The Death Mark that appears on people is basically a timer ticking away that slowly makes people lose their memories before they (as you’d expect) die. You play as someone (you can choose a custom name and slightly customise the appearance of the protagonist) who finds himself outside a mansion that has a doll inside. Your aim is to try and remove your Death Mark with the help of various people you run into both inside and outside the mansion.
While the artwork is pretty gorgeous across the board, the atmosphere with the sound design and the art blending together makes this truly shine. I’m also a big fan of the creative depictions of death and other elements on display here. The use of flowers and plants in particular is very interesting. So far, my only annoyances come from some interface issues and control related aspects. On the Switch, you can’t tap the screen to progress dialogue. There also is no save anywhere which is beyond annoying for a portable game. For a game that has loads of text, not having names above dialogue boxes gets confusing when it isn’t fully voiced. Something else I noticed was that some of the text feels like a literal translation more than a full localisation with an editor having made the text flow better. This isn’t a problem all the way but it is noticeable in a few dialogue bits here and there.
After the first few hours (I’ve played it twice on both PS4 and Switch), I’m looking forward to seeing how the story plays out. It definitely feels like Experience Inc. has something special here with their first horror adventure game. Stay tuned for a full review closer to release.