The indie games section of Xbox Live is often forgotten about. It's easy to miss given the awful lay out of the menus. Those who do look into can find some true gems, and some utter crap. One of the services lesser known games is Decay. It's a dark, brooding and creepy puzzle game with a decent story attached to it. The chances are you’ve never played it, but you should.
Created by Shinning Gate, Decay is a trip into the macabre. The story centres around murder, suicide and the paranormal. It's a story that slowly unravels revealing numerous plot twists, and some horrific secrets. The games low production values never became a issue thanks to some masterful use of audio and imagery. The audio creates a creepy atmosphere that slowly washes over the player. In certain sections the audio becomes the players worse enemy as the volume levels increase. The sound effects almost invade the players ears, suffocating them in a sea of grim murmurs.
The visuals worked perfectly with the audio, combing to create a nightmare environment. Decay uses a mixture of dull colours with various shades of oranges and dark yellows. It creates a strange dream like effect which adds to the mystery of the story. Decay manges to capture the looks of familiar buildings (think run down multi-storey flats) and add a dark twist to them.
The core gameplay is pretty simple, point and click with a focus on puzzles. The puzzle solving isn’t anything too taxing or clever, they do feel relevant to the plot however. There was a few neat music based puzzles that worked well with the creepy atmosphere, but these were in short supply. For the most part the puzzles were nothing more than combine two obvious items together to progress to the next part of the game.
Decay isn’t going to blow most people away, but it will certainly impress horror fans. It's a decent example of what the Xbox Indie section can provide, both in terms of craftsmanship and quality. Shining Gate created something that wasn’t just a knock off of another game. Decay was, and still is, a unnerving little gem of a game. Next time you find yourself wanting to play something new, I fully recommend checking out all three parts of Decay.