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Deluded Mind

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Pyxton Studios
Release Date: June 15, 2018


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PC Review - 'Deluded Mind'

by Fran Soto on Aug. 8, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Deluded Mind provides a story-based gameplay that affects the player on an emotional level and forces the player to regularly experience hellish and blood-curdling moments.

Oh, I was so smug. My self-control and composure were so impenetrable when it came to playing psychological horror games, which include the likes of Fear by Monolith Productions and the ever-popular Amnesia by Frictional Games, that I convinced myself I was a cut above the fully grown men screaming in terror as they recorded their playthroughs. I barely flinched when I played and remained calm and cool. Apart from the odd jump-scare, I was above it all — or so I thought.

Deluded Mind, an asylum-themed adventure horror game by Pyxton Studies, did something to shake my solid mental state to my core — probably because haunted, abandoned asylums are ridiculously scary to begin with. When you're thrown into the middle of one and are alone and trapped, it's even scarier. With each sinister giggle echoing down the hall of the abandoned asylum, my composure slowly dismantled itself. When the lights were suddenly cut, I felt a shiver and realized that this game was getting past my rock-hard mental shell - even though I did still have a flashlight. I even experienced a mild panic attack and had to turn the game off for a spell, when the flashing lights, blurred vision, and phantom shadows got to be too much.

Intrigued? Read on, you masochist.

It's common in the entertainment industry that along with creepy abandoned asylums comes the cruel and unusual punishment of the patients — lobotomies, experimental drugs, and the like. Deluded Mind delivers this theme in spades. Hillstone Asylum, which is your current prison and predicament, isn't a safe haven to you or its former patients. Thanks to the hallucinogenic fog you find yourself in, ghosts appear to haunt you in various ways. You are Dean Catrall, FBI agent and grieving parent, and you wake up alone in a closed, abandoned medical ward, seriously drugged up, and minus one FBI partner. What's more, the villain who put you there is also the murderer who took your daughter from you.

Early on, it becomes clear who your kidnapper is, that you have been drugged, and your partner has also been stowed away somewhere in the asylum. Your mission is to find him, solve the murder mystery, and get the hell out of the asylumm.

But for now, Catrall is utterly and entirely alone.

The gameplay is relatively simple, with no real tricks to go over. I was pleased to find that shift does in fact enable you to run, which is good because some of the puzzles require you to bomb around back and forth in the same corridor as you complete them. Also, it's nice to run away from scary things. 

The direction you're meant to go is fairly linear, although I did get lost more than once. At one point, I was stuck between two wards for far longer than I care to admit, and even turned off the game for a bit because I missed a clue along the way. Now, I say "clue," but if I'm being honest, it was a door. I missed a door. Needless to say, much of the environment looks the same, which, fittingly, made me a little insane.

I had a frustrating issue with the movement in the game, but it's problematic for any adventure title. I'd open a door and find myself smooshed into a wall, and I wouldn't be able to get out from behind it without tediously closing and reopening it. It reminded me of games like Skyrim, in which you would find yourself trapped behind a person or object, and it removes yourself from the immersion a little bit. For many, this would be a deal-breaker, but for me, the story and experience matter so much more. I plundered on.

As in other horror adventure games, you have no weapon, as your only true enemy is fear itself, which is pretty darn scary in this genre, if done properly. I've always liked this about the genre, as it makes you feel completely helpless and amps up the scary factor significantly. At least you have a flashlight … sometimes.

As you search for keys and clues in your escape, it becomes pretty clear that Dean has put on a brave face about the loss of his daughter, but he's not over it. From phantom cries to children's toys that suddenly appear in the abandoned cells, it's clear that Dean is spinning. As the story unfolds both for Dean and for the asylum's sad past, it's easy to become invested and eager for more.

I felt that the story unfolded at a natural and easy rate, and it was well punctuated with cut scenes that would relocate you (in your drugged-up stupor) to other places in the asylum or your life story. The hallucinations were well done and the subtle flashbacks of Dean's former family life added an emotional element, which is not often found in horror games. 

The artwork is sometimes inconsistent but still does a good job of painting the picture that the owners and operators of this facility cared more about pinching pennies than helping their patients. What awesome, creepy haunted asylum story doesn't have that premise as part of their plot? The hallways are dingey and dark, and the mattresses are stained, but the computers for the staff members look pretty good! They sit behind thick glass and are far away from the cells, so it adds fuel to the fire for the ethereal patient roster.

The audio was pretty good. I think it was the best part of Deluded Mind and had me spinning from time to time. The music and ambient noise were minimalistic but effective, which in my opinion works best for any horror game. The creepiest part was the seemingly random, distinct heartbeats that I continuously heard for no reason. In hindsight, it's entirely possible that it was my own rapidly beating heart, fluctuating along with the fear factor. Who knows?

Jump-scares are simultaneously my favorite and most despised part of any horror game. The jump-scares are really good in Deluded Mind, but without the audio, they would be nothing. The sound was hands-down the best part of the game and super effective. My advice: Play this game with headphones while sitting in the dark.

While the game is scary, it is not without its faults. The game runs only in certain resolutions, so if you have an unsupported resolution, the result is either a smooshed, pixelated image or a limited viewing screen. While the gameplay was mostly unaffected by this, the menu is cut off.

There were also some inconsistencies. I couldn't figure out why the walls and floors were coated in grime while the computers and filing cabinets were clean. The TV screens displaying days since the asylum's closure were also weird — and pristine. Why would these matter to anyone if the asylum is closed? The computers were still on, but all the lights were out or failing, so half of the game is spent in the dark. It's possible this was all part of the hallucinations.

However, the creepy environment is still really effective. Between cut scenes and flashes of the emergency lights, you see something that turns out to not be there the next second. You hear heartbeats, you see things that you aren't sure are real, and you generally question your sanity and clarity as you play. Toward the end, the game really keeps you guessing.

No spoilers here, but the ending felt rushed and out of place. It's also worth mentioning that if you have a seizure disorder, the last half hour of this game may be problematic.

When it comes to scary, Deluded Mind does a good job of producing a number of heebie-jeebies, but there was so much more it could have done. Jump-scares are one thing, but you need to make sure that the player knows what they're jumping for. Several times, I heard the familiar "shing" noise that comes with any horror game to let you know that something scary just flashed past the screen, and I was obviously facing in the other direction because I saw no change. There were opportunities to scare, opportunities that I was sure would be taken advantage of — such as running down a dark, endless corridor — that could have provided some serious scares but simply didn't deliver.

Deluded Mind is good and entertaining, but it had so much potential. It had an asylum, random giggles, and a little emotional turmoil, but it always just missed the mark. I love a good asylum thriller, and this game had me guessing at nearly every turn. If you like a good thrill, try it out but use a notepad because there are several clues to keep track of. Word of advice: Never underestimate a good jump-scare. They will happen, and they will be random, and you will jump.

Score: 7.5/10

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