1/22/2017, By David64 – Detention is a 2D Horror Adventure game from Taiwanese Indie developer Red Candle Games. A team of just 6 individuals that came together to make a game that could faithfully represent not only Taiwanese culture, but history as well. The result is an intensely personal story that is made all the more tragic by the shocking brutality of the time period it is set in.
The game takes place in Taiwan in the 1960s, the middle of a period known as the ‘White Terror’ where the country was under a long period of Martial Law, and fear of Communism and Mainland China led to an era of brutal government suppression of the media and suspected Communist Sympathisers. You play as a student trapped in a high school during a mysterious Typhoon as an evil supernatural force begins to take over and you must survive long enough to find a way out.
The core gameplay involves exploring the school and solving puzzles while dodging the many ghosts and spirits roaming the halls. The lingering spirits can sometimes be appeased with an offering of rice or otherwise snuck past by holding your breath, some examples of how the developers weave elements of Chinese folklore not only into the story, but into the gameplay as well. Set in an era of violent government repression, the dark and oppressive mood of the game is fitting. Hallways and classrooms are rigid and uniform, full of straight lines, as is the assembly hall and military command post outside. The backgrounds are desaturated with the occasional splash of muted yellow candlelight or dark red blood, and animations are stiff with jerky character movement. The game also has a noisy, lo-fi soundscape throughout, very reminiscent of Silent Hill, which adds a lot to the claustrophobic feel.
All of this really reinforces what sets Detention apart from many horror games. The horror may be delivered by a supernatural force, but its origin is unmistakably human. In many ways it feels like the supernatural forces are taunting you. Even when you think you’re alone, safe from the lingering spirits roaming the halls, eyes and hidden faces watch you from windows and dark corners. Not unlike the omnipresent government, always watching for disobedient citizens. Photographs are found with faces blacked out, and notes scattered around the school describe what happens to suspected communist sympathisers. Even school children. Propaganda films still play to classrooms that are empty (Or not), and bizarre puppets and statues depict citizens hooded and shackled, awaiting execution.
Detention is not the most challenging adventure game out there, and the interactivity does wane a little towards the end in, but overall it is a solid Point and Click Horror game that delivers a compelling story and glimpse into a very real, and dark, period of history.