Warning! There are massive, insane spoilers in the following article about what occurs in Dementium and Dementium II. If you don’t want to know key aspects of those games, then please read at your own risk.
When I was tasked with coming up with a character to focus on for our October Building Character theme of “Survival Horror Protagonists,” I spent a good amount of brainpower deciding which one. Initially, I was going to go with a character from the Resident Evil series; but then I realized that most of those are generic cookie-cutter action stereotypes. I considered doing a character from Dead Space Extraction, but despite the awesome narrative, none of those really appealed to me. I wanted to not only use an interesting protagonist, but one whose story is as gripping as it is mysterious. After all, most true horror stems from not knowing what is going on and what nightmares are creeping in the shadows, ready to pounce. With that in mind, it was an easy choice to select William Redmoor of Dementium fame.
In the original Dementium, William endures many terrors in his quest to escape the Ward and find out the truth about his wife and child. His story begins as he is wheeled through a nightmarish Ward full of monsters, blood and unfortunate victims. Unsure of whether the opening sequence is a dream or something real, he awakens on his bed with a terrified gasp, only to find that things have gone horribly wrong. A loudspeaker is telling everyone to proceed out of the building to safety, but no one is in sight. Throughout his quest through the infested, hellish environment full of disembodied heads, walking corpses, keening worm creatures and other horrors, he is assailed by disturbing clues. These include the phantasm of a terrified little girl who runs from him, and a newspaper clipping about a man who violently murdered his wife and child that indicate he may have murdered his own family.
This is all the more terrifying, as the player is uncertain whether or not these clues have any merit or if they are the result of some sick game. The only truth about the experience seems to be that William is very capable with weapons, which may or may not prove his guilt. Unfortunately, this is further complicated after his climactic battle with the nefarious Doctor, who seems to have the clues to William’s past but refuses to illuminate things.
After you put the Doctor down, you are overcome by a peaceful vision of your wife and child. Finally, it seems you are near to the truth! Unfortunately, this doesn’t last long, as that idyllic scene is replaced with a vision of a man on a gurney, an empty smile plastered onto his mouth and his brain exposed. You see the Doctor huddled over your body, and he mentions that Phase 1 was successful, now on to Phase 2! Was everything just a fevered delusion, a result of a brain surgery on a violent man? Could you have truly murdered your own wife and child? These questions only get further complicated in Dementium II.
Dementium II starts out with William being dragged through the halls of a new building, the Bright Dawn Treatment Center. You hear kind nurses telling you that your surgery was a success, but now you need to get your strength back. As you are dragged to your cell by black garbed and helmeted men, you see crazed men behind bars shouting in different languages, being beaten by guards, and other atrocities. Things only get exacerbated when you reach your cell, as you find a “postcard from paradise” written by yourself telling you to escape. Suddenly, reality warps and your barren cell becomes a blood soaked nightmare. The monsters you fought (or did you?) in Dementium are suddenly prowling the halls, which have themselves transformed into rusty, metallic abattoirs. Not knowing what is real and what is madness, you once again have to fight your way to the truth.
Throughout this quest, you are constantly tormented by the Doctor, who threatens and cajoles you over the loudspeaker. The mad Doctor, who may or may not be schizophrenic, vacillates between his mad tirades and timely warnings. Early on, his “good” side warns you that your brain surgery unwittingly unleashed the monsters that were inside your mind. For the “bad” side, however, the Bright Dawn Treatment Center is his sadistic playground, and a much larger one than the Ward.
Even worse, once again your culpability is brought to question as you find mysterious notes from your dead wife that lead you to a graveyard and then a church, only to be confronted by a female monstrosity. Uncertain whether this is your guilt literally attacking you or a fevered delusion, William puts the monstrosity down. This confrontation is far from the last, and William is tested severely on his quest. Along the way, he discovers evidence of the Doctor’s master plan, which seems to involve further breaching of the veil between reality and the nightmarish Plane of Anguish that William is sporadically drawn into. He intends to become ruler of both worlds by summoning an ancient horror, Malatesta, to do his bidding.
I personally found myself rooting for William the entire journey. Maybe it was the Doctor’s taunts or the fact that evidence of Williams’s crime is never truly given, but I hoped the whole time that he was somehow being implicated for a crime he had not committed. It is even implied more than once that William is an unwitting pawn of the Doctor, who may have altered him in the surgery of the first game. So, upon defeating Malatesta and putting the Doctor’s plot to rest, I was energized and relieved. Finally I would get my answers. Finally, I would find proof that William was not the monster the Doctor was trying to convince him he was.
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