The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker came out in June this year and may have been a title that flew under your radar due to its rather unique story and gameplay mechanics. The game is an FMV interactive ‘whodunnit’ story in which you play the role of a psychiatrist as you interview patients in order to discover which one killed their previous doctor. With over 1600+ video responses and the option to manually type in literally any question you like to all of the ‘personalities’ who sit on your couch, you can literally lose hours and hours and you try and unravel the mystery of Doctor Dekkers untimely death.
D’Avekki Studios have another FMV narrative game out soon called The Shapeshifting Detective which contains some of the same actors from The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker yet, as you would expect, explorers a completely new setting and story. The studio has also been around since 2003 creating Murder Mystery packs so you can host your own at home! As such, they know what they are doing when it comes to creating a suspenseful mystery.
Wales Interactive, the publishers, have released a wide assortment of games over the years but the ones I’ll like to point you towards are The Bunker and Late Shift. These are two other interactive FMV games in which everything is recorded with live actors which move along as you interact with the scenes. The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is similar in style yet the originality of each of these games easily makes me recommend you pick them all up if you like either of them – there is even a handy triple pack for you to purchase should you wish to dive in and get them all at once.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is an unusual game and also a slightly disturbing one as well. The titular Doctor Dekker is a very popular psychiatrist who deals with a number of patients from his small office, well, he did until he was murdered by one of them! However, life goes one, the clinic can’t shut down so they appoint a new doctor – you. That’s right, step into the shoes of a faceless psychiatrist as you take on all of Doctor Dekkers old patients as well as all of their issues, baggage and problems. Your role, initially, is to build trust with your patients, get to know them, probe for details and uncover what strange and unique issues they all have. Once you’ve planted the seed, it’s time to push further and work out just who did kill Doctor Dekker, and why?
One of the unique gameplay aspects of The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is that the killer is random. At the start of the game, it will decide on who it is going to have as the killer and from then on, the answers and responses in regards to certain things from one of the patients will alter slightly in a way that makes them more guilty. I won’t lie, on my first playthrough I chose the wrong murderer at the end as I hadn’t probed them enough so I was still a little unsure by that point, but that’s why you can freely type any question you want – dig for dirt and uncover the truth.
Originally released on PC last year, The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker has been fully optimised for consoles with the addition of a few options which help those of us sat on the couch who wish to play the game. As the game fully supports free typing, you can literally ask any of the patients any questions you want – you may not get a valid answer, or a simple “I don’t understand doctor”, but if you manage to discover a keyword then you’ll get a real response to your question, which is really awesome the first time you do it. However, if you’ve ever typed on a console then you’ll know how long it will take to type out a full sentence over 1k times (yes, you will be asking that many questions).
So, the developers have allowed you to use the PS Second Screen and Xbox Smartglass apps in order to type in your questions from your phones/tablets and the Switch lets you use the on-screen touch keyboard. On my PS4, I also managed to use a wired and Bluetooth keyboard with no issues. As well as this, you also have the option to get ‘suggested replies’ by looking at your ‘ideas’ option when you push up on the D-Pad. This will give you a list of questions you can simply click on in order to ask and see the response to. A word of warning though – using only these hinted questions won’t uncover everything, they are merely a guide to get more information out of the patient so you can probe further with manual questioning.
In order to know when to stop probing (as it’s sometimes hard to know when too much is enough), there is a traffic-light system in place which has a red, amber and green light on it. If the light is red then you haven’t asked everything and there are still hinted questions available. If it’s amber then you can move on but you’ve not probed enough. If it’s green then you’ve got everything you can out of that character for this chapter. If you’re finding it hard to think of things to probe about, consulting your notepad with the D-Pad will display all the questions you asked, which you can click on to see the response again, and those with an asterisk means the patient said something you haven’t questioned them about yet. It’s very intuitive and really satisfying to find all of the keywords and get all the information you can out of everyone.
You can also ask for a hint if you’re really stuck, but doing so will void one of the trophies.
That’s pretty much The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker in a nutshell, without giving away any spoilers – become the doctor, question the patients, probe for more information, and then point out the person responsible for one of many different endings due to the random nature of who the killer actually is. However, the core mechanics and the seamless integration of over 1600+ 1080p videos aren’t the stars here, that award lies on the brilliant and mesmerising performances delivered by each and every one of the actors within the game, so let’s take a look at some of them.
You must have patience with your patients.
Doctor Dekker had a rather odd-ball set of patients, even if there wasn’t a lot of them. If real psychiatrists have to handle people like this on a daily basis then I can see why they charge so much, as I wouldn’t last a single day sitting in a room with these five people listening to their unusual ‘traits’.
First up we have Marianna, she’s going to be the character you remember the most within The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker as it feels like she is the ‘main’ patient, even though we interact with all of them just as much. It just feels her story is a lot more interesting than some of the others. She’s a rather deluded and seductive individual who has a ‘history’ with Doctor Dekker. Her issue consists of her blackening out after taking trips to the beach and then waking up naked. As the story progresses, we’ll begin to dabble with voyeurism, possible murder, hypnotism and even Cthulhu! I could never get my head around Marianna though as just when I thought I finally understood her, she starts to talk about something which takes me back to square one.
Another interesting character is Nathan. He’s been appointed to see a doctor since he was involved in a car accident that left his girlfriend dead and himself severely traumatised. He believes he is stuck in a groundhog day phase where he’ll keep reliving the same day over and over again until he does something drastic in order to move it on. He also believed it was Doctor Dekker who planted this curse on him as it only started since he came to see him – and it was certainly nothing to do with the accident, right?! Just how far is he willing to take his ‘do something drastic to move on the day’? Could he be the one to eliminate the doctor? If so, why is he still repeating days after his death?
Finally, we have Bryce. Just like Nathan, Bryce is also convinced he can do some kind of time-manipulation, only he believes he has an hour a day where everyone freezes and he can do whatever he wants. Bryce is a depressed gravedigger who works the night shifts at the local cemetery, yet at midnight he gets to do whatever he wants without anyone realising. Not only is he depressed but he is also mentally unstable and rather disturbed, as displayed in his rather interesting sessions with us. Could he be capable of murder?
There are another two patients, your receptionist and a few other guests who you’ll speak to along your journey, but I’ll keep those a surprise – your receptionist seems just as sadistic as the patients at times – I wonder if she could have anything to do with the doctor’s early demise? It’s not hard to see that possibility if I’m being honest. As you get to know each of these people, you’ll uncover truths you probably shouldn’t know, reveal motives and opportunities, and you’ll even begin to pity some of them for their issues and insecurities.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker feels like a technical marvel for FMV games. There are so many video responses, different endings based on who the killer is, the game is able to pick out keywords in your manual questioning and respond accordingly, and if you stick to manual questioning only then you’ll most likely get a different experience each time. Visually there is nothing to falter, the UI has been optimised so there is enough visibility of it on screen without it obstructing anything as well as giving you easy access to hints, your notebook, suggested questions and past responses.
The acting, in my opinion, was great. It felt like a cross between a b-movie and a theatrical performance within a live theatre. That’s not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying it was over the top acting which worked really well within this setting as it really emphasis’ the crazy nature of each of the patients and adds a level of excitement and originality to each person rather than playing out in a predictive fashion. The choice of actors also stands out to me, Jaya, the receptionist, and Marianna are the two who vividly stick with me, but all of them left a lasting impression which is more than a lot of games out there.
If I had one complaint about The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker in terms of its technical side, it would be the location. Other than a few cutscenes, we are confined to the desk and looking at our couch under a pea-green wall. Sure, this is where a psychiatrist will spend the majority of their day, plus it fits the theme as you’re interviewing your patients. However, after 10 hours of looking at nothing but dramatic extreme close-ups and a wide shot of the green wall, you begin to yearn for something different. However, this is just a personal opinion and it doesn’t distract from the game at all as I can see the reasoning and understand the necessity of everything being in that one location.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is one of the best murder mysteries I’ve played since The Invisible Hours on the PS4/PSVR. When I first jumped into it I felt a little overwhelmed as I was given all this freedom to ask whatever I wanted and progress the story with as little or much information as I wanted, information which would help me ultimately determine who the killer was and why they did it. Although, in the playthrough I did, I managed to finally get the killer, but their motive was a little far from what I thought it might have been. I imagine I didn’t probe them enough in the final chapter to find out their true intentions and why they decided to do it.
As any immature people, such as myself, would do – my first questions to every patient were “what underwear have you got on” and “will you have sex with me”. To my surprise, Marianna, the seductive red-head goddess, had an actual response to that question – as such, she instantly became my favourite character. Although over time she progressed to borderline creepy, then a possible safety hazard, until by the end I wouldn’t want to be in the same room as her, nevermind following her naked into the sea…
I really enjoyed my time with The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker and I seriously can’t wait to try out The Shapeshifting Detective as the developers have got the voice of Tex Murphy! Well, they haven’t taken his voice, the actor provided the words, but you know what I mean! If you don’t know who Tex Murphy is, he’s the granddaddy of FMV games – go look them up on Steam and buy them all – they’re great! My only complaint with Doctor Dekker is if you wish to play the game with full immersion, by referring to your own notes and not using any of the hints or suggestive questions, then you’re going to be playing for a long time as you type in each and every question as you probe for more and more information. As such, I’d recommend using a USB or Bluetooth keyboard rather than the second screen app, if possible, as it makes typing much easier.
Rupert Booth and Anarosa De Eizaguirre Butler (Contradiction & The Shapeshifting Detective) play Doctor Dekker from the couch!:
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is one of the best FMV games you’ll play on current consoles to date. From its intuitive manual text input questioning to its randomness in terms of who the killer is and how certain story elements progress, this is a game you can replay multiple times and end up with a different outcome as you uncover new information and discover more things about your patients, whether or not you want too. If you’re looking for an interactive ‘whodunnit’ game that can be played solo or even with others chipping in with what to say (locally or on stream), then I can’t recommend The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker enough.
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker£9.99
- - Freely type your questions to receive over 1600 video responses
- - A random killer is chosen upon starting a new game, making each playthrough a bit different
- - The actors play their parts perfectly, leaving you feeling disturbed and uneasy
- - Helpful question 'prompts' as well as a notebook you jot down important info into so you don't forget
- - The biggest FMV-based game I've ever seen
- - The killers motives only really shine through when you probe in the final chapter - as all characters are capable of doing it
- - Sometimes you have to be quite specific for it to pick up on what you're asking it
- - Everything takes place in the pea-green room (which isn't bad as it fits the game, but technically a lack of diverse locations)
- - Marianna wouldn't go out with me 🙁