How do you tell a tale of a past without burying you in its context? Turn it into a horror game. Horror games, while terrified of them, do the best way of telling history without directly telling you. Red Candle’s Detention does that. I honestly hate horror games because I’m too scared, they really bring you in. But Detention somehow makes me forget my fears and follow through on it… All while giving me new trauma.
Simplicity Sets the Stage
The game falls into the horror and point-and-click genre, incorporating puzzles into the mix. Logic and understanding gradually increase fairly in difficulty, only making you scratch your head because you didn’t look at things in a bigger picture. Enemies, while few, hold a strong presence on your exploration. You’re forced to move without having them noticed you or you’re surprised by their sudden appearance and do your best to ‘keep calm and carry on’.
The game understand logic and the concept of not holding hands. It all makes sense and that’s what I love about it. You know what to do and even though there are objects that you seem to brush off, you realize where it needs to go. Things are not placed randomly for the sake of throwing you off. They either to help you progress or enhance the story.
I Want To Learn
The plot falls under the usual format, set a school during 1960s Taiwan, a typhoon begins to churn itself near your school. As fate would have it, you are stuck inside the school because the bridge was destroyed by the weather. That is when things take a turn for the worse and you find yourself in a predicament of trying to get help and keeping yourself alive. The story develops and while more things come to light, you’re not buried in text or finding yourself confused. It hits so many things and explains a lot while leaving you flabbergasted the longer your stay is. And when you beat it, you feel ‘blessed’ of understanding everything you saw.
The art mixed with a 2D paper-like feeling while the rest of the world looks well painted. Things are shown as grossly as possible but are not overdone. You’re made to be uncomfortable with what you see and the sound design does the job to make you paranoid and scared. Combining both of these two turns everything into a proper formula. Jump scares do not feel forced or overdone. It all builds with one another and executes itself as you lose yourself in the world.
The game is fairly short, having played about 4 hours that only included 1 death and being stuck on a good amount of time on puzzles. Detention hits its goal of achieving a story that none knew unless you’re from the region, invoking an interesting teaching of Taiwanese religion and politics. Red Candle’s Detention is a horror game that I would gladly go back and re-explore.
Detention is out on Steam, and if you like the game then go send the developers @RedCandleGames love, they deserve it. And if you just want to watch it, then head on over to Old Monk in the Mist, who’s playing it without commentary.