The Best Japanese Indie Games You’ve Never Played – “The Starship Damrey” Edition
In The Starship Damrey, you awaken from cryo-sleep on the said named ship, only to find yourself unable to leave your pod. After rebooting the network manually, you are able to traverse the ship and as you try to find a way to leave the cryo-pod, you slowly begin to uncover the truth behind the events that occurred on this ship. But a mysterious figure stalks the halls of the ship, hinting that you may not be alone.
Warning — investigating this ship for the truth may result in you coming across in-game spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
Note: Before I hear “hey, that’s not an indie game!” let me briefly explain. Just like last time when I wrote about Capcom’s Sweet Home, I want to reiterate that this series is not strictly for indie games, but for very obscure Japanese games in general that are often missed or overlooked. That being said, enjoy!
Level 5’s Game Designer Kazuya Asano and Writer Takemaru Abiko wanted to make a title inspired by the classic adventure games of yesteryear. Unlike other developers that end up adding in modern sensibilities and tainting the classic experience, Asano and Abiko strove to make Damrey as close as possible to the original genre. This means that from the very beginning, there will be no tutorials, no helpful supports barking orders in your ear. You’re completely alone as you traverse the abandoned and poorly lit ship.
When you first start, the protagonist wakes up from cryo-sleep with a bad case of amnesia. According to the AI, this is apparently a normal side-effect and you are instructed to remain seated until the effects wear off. You must then reboot the computer system (completely on your own mind you, with no aid) and eventually take control of the only working navigational robot.
As stated in the plot summary above, you’ll be playing the game as this robot travels through the ship. The bottom half of the 3DS screen displays the protagonist’s legs as s(he) lies in bed. You can examine a picture on the wall of a young woman on the wall, which triggers sweet but melancholy music. The top screen shows the first-person view of the robot.
Most of the horror games I spoke about in previous pieces were in 3/4 top-down view, which serves its purposes well but still somewhat limits the immersion of the game. Starship Damrey‘s first-person view seems to enhance your senses; every “whrr” and creak, every click of a Space Leech, every poorly lit crevice of the silent halls is amplified to extreme proportions. Even the frequent jump-scares are much more poignant, simply because the oppressive atmosphere is far more immersive and developed due to the perspective.
The plot is simple but fascinating and never fails to keep you completely gripped in its power. From the beginning, the game teases pieces of plot and explanation but like a true point and click adventure game, you need to work for every last morsel of information. In essence, the full experience — and horror — of this title is derived solely from solitary exploration.
Because of that, I’m not going to link to a walkthrough or embed a gameplay video as usual. If you’re truly stuck, Gamefaqs has FAQs devoted to that purpose, but I would really suggest against it since consulting such could seriously ruin the experience and story.
For more great titles, check out more of the best Japanese indie games you’ve never played.