The doctor will see you out.
Developer: D’Avekki Studios Ltd
Publisher: D’Avekki Studios Ltd
Format: PC (Reviewed), Mac
Released: May 19, 2017
So, remember when I said in my Late Shift review that it can only go up for FMV games? That was probably a lie, or at best The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker trying its darndest to prove me wrong. FMV games walk a very fine line between engaging interactive movie and extremely boring slideshow, and many factors contribute to those two ends. I did not enjoy playing this game. The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is slow, unorganised and not very interesting.
You play as a psychiatrist replacing the titular Doctor Dekker, who has been murdered. It’s up to you to figure out who the murderer is by staring at a bunch of people while they creepily waffle at you for a few hours. To break up the staring and the waffling, you can ask your patients questions or even answer theirs with a text-adventure style text box that is detailed, and yet not very intuitive.
Doctor Dekker advertises itself as a Lovecraftian mystery thriller. The patients you interview are a selection of kooky folks that range from a guy that has time freeze around him for an hour at midnight, to a woman who regularly blacks out and finds herself naked on the beach. Each patient has a litany of responses at their disposal to your questions, so you need to make sure you listen out for keywords while they talk and type questions with keywords in the text box provided. For example, one of the patients, Bryce, says he can stop time at midnight, so you could ask him how he can stop time, or what he does during his extra hour as a response. He’ll elaborate on the free time he’s given, telling you about his life story, like how he used to be quite depressed because he couldn’t keep up with his job as a gravedigger (just go with it). His sudden ability to stop time at midnight allowed Bryce to catch up his work, making him not so depressed anymore. Or so he claims.
Eventually the conversations you have with your patients will turn to Doctor Dekker, and how he helped/influenced them when they were his patients. For example, Bryce will lament about how Dekker would force him to do things he didn’t want to, or say one thing and do another as he got progressively more aggressive before his untimely death. All this goes towards who you think murdered the Doctor in the end. The patients themselves can ask questions of you as well, and how you answer them will determine how they see you and how willing they are to tackle your queries with their mostly competent and creepy acting.
This kind of gameplay gets pretty tedious for an FMV game. After a while, having to listen to these people talk about themselves while finding the right words to progress the conversation and then repeating yourself because you asked the same question before but with different words quickly becomes a slog to get through.
This is not helped by the game’s menu system, which is finnicky at best and downright disorganised at worst. The questions you ask your patients are presented as a list that you can peruse through and look back on, replaying their answers to catch a clue somewhere. This would be fine if not for the fact that it doesn’t compartmentalise the questions as a separate menu for each patient, instead listing the questions for every single one of them. You don’t want to scroll through the litany of questions you’ve asked every single patient, so you either start from scratch or type something and hope you haven’t asked them that before. It may be a small grievance, but when you’re staring at people acting strangely and trying to get them to continue the conversation, the menu system just makes the experience all the more aggravating as it breaks the flow in both dialogue and gameplay.
The main addition to the aggravation, however, is that there is only one location in the entirety of Doctor Dekker. All the patients you talk to are in the one room, green wallpaper with green couch and a bookshelf to the side. The game tries to make it interesting with close-ups of the patients and the odd slow-motion, but it’s not enough. I could have seen past the wonky menu design and okay acting if there was some variety to the locations, like if your patients were recounting their experiences there was a flashback of it while they narrated. As it is it just didn’t grab me, which is a shame. There’s potential in an FMV game about seemingly paranormal occurrences, especially when combined with the nature of madness and murder mysteries. If you’re into haughty mystery, then you should give The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker a try. Just be prepared for a repetitive experience.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is ambitious, but stumbles short of being interesting with its one location and a mystifying menu system.
Editor: Tristan Venables