Decarnation is a creepy thriller that makes you feel uncomfortable

“Decarnation” is a creepy thriller that makes you feel uncomfortable. review

Played on PC

When thinking of pixelated horror games, the first thing that comes to mind is Corpse Party, not just a game but an entire series that has garnered such a huge following that its fans create their own games in the universe. At first glance it seems that Decarnation is something along the same lines, a similarly pixelated “horror” with blood and guts in every frame. In fact, the novelty is not a horror film, but more of a psychological thriller that raises issues that are very unusual for the gaming industry. The gameplay let us down, but in the interest of a great story, the project is worth paying attention to.

Cockroaches in the head (and not only)

We are transported to the year 1989: the main character Gloria poses in front of a sculptor in a Parisian workshop. Her statue will soon be in the local museum, which she, a simple cabaret dancer, hardly believes in. The statue is very popular with visitors and everything seems to be going as usual, but at some point life begins to crumble. The owner of the cabaret invites Gloria to become a mentor for younger dancers and to give up her favorite job, problems begin with her personal life, and a visit to the museum leaves an unpleasant impression on her soul, because a pervert gropes her statue.

    Nothing indicated trouble

Nothing indicated trouble

At the right moment, a call rings out – a well-known company invites Gloria to their office and makes an offer that cannot be refused. Own show, complete creative freedom, high fees … The heroine does not immediately agree, but when everything goes wrong, she decides to go to a meeting with the director, who calls himself her big fan. Being a horror/thriller, the encounter obviously doesn’t go as Gloria expected – and it’s better to end the storyline retelling at this point.

Rarely do games come out that make you feel uncomfortable during the passage, and Decarnation is one of them. Part of the reason for this is the setting – there aren’t many locations and most of the action takes place indoors, which can lead to claustrophobia even for those who don’t suffer from it. Without spoilers, it’s hard to explain exactly what this entails, but a sense of uneasiness sets in regularly – and the further you go, the more evident it becomes. Especially when you read about real people who are in the same situation as Gloria.

    We will return to this room more than once, but it will look different each time

We will return to this room more than once, but it will look different each time

A large part of the story is based on the main character’s reflection, her struggle with inner demons (and sometimes literally) and her attempts to come to terms with everything that has happened in life. In “pixelated” games you can often find protagonists who are many times better written than the heroes of big-budget blockbusters, but the work of the screenwriters is particularly impressive here – it’s like living through the story of Gloria and worrying Understanding and hope until the end that everything will be fine with her is what makes her condition. I do not want to interrupt the passage – otherwise there will be a feeling that in difficult times you leave the girl.

So life is

When you see adult-themed warnings at the beginning of such games, you usually have a rough idea of ​​what kind of questions are being raised. Here the spectrum is very wide, many problems and phenomena inherent in people are touched on: from objectification to Stockholm syndrome, from mental disorders to self-acceptance. They speak directly about something, use metaphors for something, and sometimes create phantasmagorical scenes whose development is unpredictable. Sometimes you don’t understand if it’s a dream, reality, fantasy or something else – the story is so skillfully woven. Comparing the game to the works of David Lynch is trite, but one cannot help mentioning them – Decarnation leaves much the same impression as an “Elephant Man” of sorts. I looked, understood, and then cautiously advised the rest, realizing that not everyone will like it.

    French developers clearly drew inspiration from Japanese masters, including manga artist Junji Ito

French developers clearly drew inspiration from Japanese masters, including manga artist Junji Ito

Although the story is rather dark, the game does not fall into overt “darkness”. This is a great credit to the authors, but the musical accompaniment deserves special mention. When you hear the name Akira Yamaoka, you expect a classic horror soundtrack – terrifying and creating a frightening atmosphere. Here everything is exactly the opposite – the music in Decarnation turns on at more or less quiet moments, and among the compositions there are beautiful songs in French. In the remaining episodes there is a subtle ambience that doesn’t pull the blanket over itself.

In general, one can only praise the story, but there are questions about the gameplay. There is a feeling that the developers got too carried away with the plot and only at the last moment thought about how to develop a game based on this story. There are enough gameplay sequences here to keep Decarnation from becoming a visual novel or an interactive film, but whichever one you choose will seem either inappropriate or far-fetched.

    In case you didn't recognize it, this is Paris

In case you didn’t recognize it, this is Paris

Mini-games that are also repeated look particularly strange. In one of them you dance to the music and, like in a rhythm game, press the keys that appear on the screen to the beat. In another case, Gloria does gymnastics: you need to press the gap several times to maintain balance. When the heroine goes to bed, the player clicks on the “arrows” and reads her statements about the people she met and the events that took place. It’s hard to call it gameplay.

But there are even more interesting game episodes – and the puzzles aren’t bad, and there was even room for a simple stealth game. Sometimes Decarnation tests your memory – for example, when you have to match the sentences displayed to the characters who spoke them. Yes, and studying some rooms is a pleasure, especially reading the heroine’s comments on certain things. But in general it is difficult to get rid of the feeling it could be come up with much more interesting mechanics. The story still remains interesting, but the emergence of gameplay moments in most cases only arouses a desire to delve into them as soon as possible to see the continuation of the plot.

    Stealth episodes are played very quickly, however, some puzzles may take some time to complete

Stealth episodes are played very quickly, however, some puzzles may take some time to complete


Despite Yamaoka’s name in the description, Decarnation will not gain wide popularity – only a hundred reviews have accumulated on Steam in a week. Too bad – the game has become very unusual. Rather, it’s just a game project that’s mediocre, not worth going through for gameplay reasons. But the plot is very unusual and unexpectedly dark. If you like unusual stories that create a feeling of emptiness (and there are such strange people, I’m one of them), you should definitely not miss Decarnation – it’s an interesting thriller, but it lacks interactive analogies you can’t see it from the outside.


  • an exciting storyline that raises many issues unusual for video games;
  • a pleasant soundtrack combines beautiful vocal compositions and eerie ambient sounds;
  • some good puzzles.


  • The gameplay feels mostly “crazy” at the last moment.


At first glance, characters with big heads look odd, like playing a dark version of the ancient Pokemon. But over time you get used to it. Yes the location looks good


The local soundtrack is unlikely to make the list of Akira Yamaoka’s best works, but there’s nothing to scold him for. But the songs by the little-known French band Fleur & Bleue sound particularly great – you even want to hear them separately from the game.

single player game

A gripping thriller to which there are hardly any comparisons. The gameplay is rather weak. Therefore, if you prefer the storyline in games, you will enjoy the novelty more.

Estimated travel time

6 hours.

collective game

Not provided.

general impression

A dark story that touches on topics that are either rarely or never talked about in video games.

This makes Decarnation memorable, even though there aren’t enough stars in the sky as a game.

Score: 8.0/10

Learn more about the grading system


    About the author

    Alan Foster

    Alan Foster covers computers and games and all the news in the gaming industry.

    Add Comment

    Click here to post a comment