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Review: Dicentra (Demo)—Beautifully Terrifying

This extended demo is about an hour long and has about 10K words.
The writing, art and programming are done by Saffeine.
You can find this demo on, so please give it a go!

Dicentra is a gothic horror visual novel.
Let us have a look at the demo of this beautiful yet eerie story.

You play as Basil, a young boy lost in forest of watchful trees and unfriendly guides. In a harsh storm, his only sanctuary is a seemingly abandoned mansion.
He doesn’t know if anyone or anything currently inhabits these walls, but there is one thing he knows: he shouldn’t have come here.

The character writing is pretty good, I’d say. It shows how much Basil is struggling with the situation he finds himself in, how he should deal with this girl Dove, and what higher evil envelops this mansion.

It surprised me how Basil was handled in the demo. I never expected to see how he’d turn out, and how contrasting that would be to Dove. A solid first impression of the characters, which I would like to see more of.

And speaking of Basil, how often do you see a wolf as a main character?

Personally, I love a well-written mystery that creates this icky feeling and gradually consumes the medium like a dark cloud that hangs over everything that happens.
Dicentra is a bit too short to create that feeling, but that’s fairly hard on a demo.
However, ghostly appearances and something happening in the kitchen is a good start in the right direction.

Dicentra is a very straightforward visual novel, so there is nothing special or unique in terms of mechanics, apart from the time counter you see when you are making a decision.

While in the demo these decisions don’t have any consequences, it would be great to see some very big things happen if the player can’t choose within the time limit in the full release. I think a fantastic feature would be having less time to decide on something if we are panicking or running away from someone, as to enhance immersion.

Art is the first thing that caught people’s attention when they discovered Dicentra.
It’s quite unique for the medium, as it looks more like a graphic novel than a VN, with hand-drawn sketches and a nice play on shadows. It’s truly terrifying and enough to seduce them into the mansion of the forest…

The backgrounds and CGs are truly splendid. They have a common color scheme — black, white, grey and red. The same goes for the design of the character sprites. Dove has a very curious design, one that creates a mixture of charm and mystery.
The ghosts, too, have a terrific design, enough to make your skin crawl when you see them.

Alvie the Wizard was the responsible for this soundtrack, and you can experience it all right from the beginning, when you enter the mansion. We only get to hear it again when Dove and Basil start interacting with each other, though.

The music choices created a soothing but melancholic feeling while reading… They fit quite well into the world of Dicentra.

While nothing is perfect, the only thing that I would improve are the mechanics and choices, as I’ve mentioned previously.

Do keep in mind that these are just my opinions, and you might end up agreeing or disagreeing. In either case, you’ll have to play to find out!

Things like old-fashioned mystery and horror with gorgeous artwork is always an interesting combination. On one hand, you can appreciate the beauty of this piece of art. On the other, you always get this eerie feeling that something more is going on behind the shadows and it sends shivers down your spine.

By now, you can probably tell that I’m very satisfied with it ─ and you’re right, I sure am! I’m looking forward to the next chapters and the final game as a whole, and see how the mystery and horror develop and intensify.

In an update on Itchio, it was mentioned that the first draft of the second chapter is almost finished and that it will be about half of the game. Dicentra will focus on a few chapters rather than a really long, continuous read, and I’m glad.
Titles don’t need to always be 30+ hours to be a wild ride.

You can find this demo on, so please give it a go!

If you feel like supporting them directly, you can pay them a ko-fi.
Check out Saffeine, Alvie_The_Wizard and Vivi Contrast on Twitter for more of their work.

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