Decarnation – Review
Follow Genre: Visual novel, Psychological horror
Developer: Atelier QDB
Publisher: East2West Games, Shiro Games
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested on: PC

Decarnation – Review

Site Score
Good: Amazing visuals, Great narrative effort
Bad: Gameplay is on the boring side
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Sometimes it’s not the big titles that stick around long after you’ve finished a game. Sometimes the unique power of a game lies within its creators’ focus and original vision for the final product. In basically every genre, it’s proven that even with the simplest of programs (RPG maker) and a lot of effort you could produce success stories such as the much-streamed Corpse Party. We honestly believe that it’s that same amount of effort that makes Decarnation good.


In Decarnation, players follow the main character Gloria as she is going through some big changes in her life. Her career as an artiste dancing at the cabaret in Paris is going in a direction she does not like. Her younger girlfriend is breaking up with her while she is almost turning 30 herself. People are judging her life all the time while she, confused as she may seem, is just trying to live her life her way. Then things take a turn for the worst and we follow Gloria through the psychological horror of her own mind as she faces real-life challenges and horrors.

Decarnation‘s story is basically everything as the game plays ninety percent like a visual novel. There are six acts that you “play” through, which means you will walk around while reading a lot of text, trying to grasp what psychological terror is overcoming the main character. This makes the flow of the story a bit like a cinematic piece, but the player’s pace and reading speed can take the wind out of the story as well, sometimes making “scary” parts feel more like grotesque museums than anything else.


The environments in this game consist of highly detailed pixel art, and there are many unique moments where the room is full of special art and animations created just for a few seconds of in-game time. You could say that if the story doesn’t do it for you, the art might still carry the game. There’s simply so much to see throughout all the acts that the curiosity about what’s around the next corner can keep you playing till the end. Here we can see all the hard work that goes into a polished game, and while it’s woven together nicely, we’re almost sad to see such detailed beautiful art in “just a visual novel” instead of something with more gameplay that allows one to truly appreciate the fine graphics.


As a game about France, it’s understandable if there are some French influences to be found. In Decarnation, however, we only found some French songs that were very present during certain parts of the game as “background” music, but they sometimes also felt a bit out of place with the atmospheric rest of the game. We much preferred the soft noisy backgrounds that generally make up a good base for horror noises. Sound effects are often in place when it comes to actions such as a phone ringing, a lock clicking, and gurgling flesh of mental abominations. We liked a lot of these, though the game feels like it could use some proper voice-acting to complete everything. Right now, there are only old-school iterations of beeps for each character as you would find in i.e. Undertale.


While written about as a “psychological horror” game, Decarnation often lacks a bit of the scary sauce, as its main ingredients are those of a visual novel and a top-down walking simulator. There’s simply not much going on, even in terms of moments that are supposed to scare you. If anything, the game has more “body horror” present than psychological. When you are not running around to interact with objects or simply following the story as it progresses as programmed, you are probably doing one of the mini-games.

Mini-games in Decarnation are often very simplistic and require you to tap directional keys to simulate struggling free from a monster’s grip or something like that. There are also a few rhythm games where you need to do your best to tap the keys presented at a certain rhythm. The programming for bite-sized mini-games seemed a bit off for us, and we have to say that anything else than the visual novel aspects in terms of gameplay felt a lot like they were made as symbolism in a way. As an example, there is a part where you can press the spacebar to scream at apparitions to make them disappear. It doesn’t really add a lot to the gameplay, but it’s there to give the player control over a tiny bit of the action.


The story of Decarnation reads like a good thriller that is visualized by amazing pixel art with a lot of details. While we were not blown away by the sound, it certainly did its job well for the biggest part, but Decarnation’s lack of gameplay is disappointing. The entire aspect of psychological horror is dumbed down by this severe lack of gameplay elements, and it’s also what holds the game back from being amazing.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Decarnation - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for since 2017.

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