Visual Novel games are a small niche in the west, mix in the subgenre of horror as well and the fan base for any perspective game title becomes even smaller. That is why a great deal of credit needs to be given to the localizers of Death Mark, as the audience for this title was always going to be small. Thankfully the game itself has been handled with care and brought over in a respectful and accurate way. Add in that the game in genuinely creepy and there is something about this game below the surface.
One of the first and most notable things about the title is that it defiantly earned the Mature rating on the box. The use of graphic horror imagery via the well done art (Morino Hiro, who did work on Mobius Final Fantasy among other titles), a real sense of doom can be felt throughout most environments in the game. The story is told mainly through still images, as many VNs, but players are asked to explore and interact with areas of investigation more akin to a Phoenix Wright title. While strange at first, it does add something to the sense of place.
The story itself hits a sweet spot of almost local ghost story views, but with a unique Japanese flavor. The plot has the player investigating these in an attempt to undo the mark that is placed on them which heralds death. While the stories themselves are interesting, problems sometimes arise in the form of the characters that are interacted with, as some of the choices or interactions seem odd. The problem is that these moments feel slightly stilted, like something was lost in translation and just couldn’t come over.
After all is said and done Death Mark is the perfect game for anyone who is willing to playing an adventure/horror game that is very heavy on text. The game constantly gives the player choices to make, but almost always there is a correct and incorrect choice among these. Those new to the genre way be confused, and want to steer clear, but those who have been down this road without visual novels should probably do themselves a favor and enjoy some of the creepy side of things on the PS4.
Also available on Vita and Switch.