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Decarnation is a well-tuned psychological horror

Dance Dance Revelation

A woman stands on a crumbling dock where large statues block her way in Decarnation
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Shiro Unlimited/East2West Games

Fun as it is to pose as an expert on everything, I am not the best judge when it comes to the old psychojalimical horror. Which may be why I don't quite know how I feel about Decarnation.

There's a big content warning needed here for sexual assault, something that I assumed would turn out to be the whole point of the game. An unfair judgement, it turns out, as one of its strengths is the intriguing mystery of what's actually going on, not the more common "what traumatic thing is everything a metaphor for".

Protagonist Gloria has a lot going on, see. She's a talented cabaret dancer who recently modelled for a statue, for an artist who immediately makes some creepy remarks about how she's an ugly old hag at 29. Misogyny and self image are at the heart of this, but they're wrapped up in Gloria's worries about getting older, chasing intimacy with a new lover, and her deep love for dance, an art form that games so rarely do much with. It's not an ugly or blunt game, despite its distressing themes, and I think that's why it works for me overall.

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