THE WORKS OF MERCY Review: A Great Story That's Poorly Executed

When it comes to decision based games, you would expect that every choice you make has a consequence. Spending your time and effort to think of making the best choice in a tough situation is stressful enough without having to realize that very few of them actually mattered at all. Unfortunately, this is the case for Pentacle’s psychological horror game, The Works of Mercy.

Story

The best part about the game is its story. You wake up one day, on your couch instead of your bed for some reason, and receive a mysterious call from a stranger that tells you that you will have to do everything he says or else he will hurt your wife and daughter. Following his prompt instructions, you begin a killing spree inside your home in order to save your family, making you question how far you are willing to go in order save your own and how you will come out on top of this messy situation!

Gameplay

Pretty much the entire game takes place in the apartment you live in. Waiting for a phone call to tell you what to do next, you are left to wonder through the small home in the downtime. Unfortunately, there is more downtime than ever would be necessary, forcing you to kind of just wait for what is to come next.

There are choices that come up for all conversations, but the only ones that seem to matter are the ones you make outside of your discussion with the killer. I did try the same segment of the game more than once and chose different options, but other than interacting with the people you lure to your apartment, all they do is prompt one or two different dialogue lines.

When it comes to killing somebody, don’t worry if you are squeamish or don’t want to see it happen because you won’t. Other than two kills, each time somebody is going to be killed there is a short black screen that loads in the dead version of the character, and the two that are animated are poorly done. With the deaths being the main action of the game, deciding to skip over the scene or just give a five-seven second long animation of the death was a bad decision of the developer. Show us the gore!

There are a couple delusional segments that are outside of the apartments, but they are both just vastly open and dark locations that are just a long maze for you to travel through for a story-relevant ending. While this would be fine if there were anticipations, moving shadows, strange noises, or at least a consistently stable game with it, then these would be fine. My specific issue here was with the forest area as the ground is literally pitch black, yet my first run of the game I fell in a hole in the ground that I couldn’t get out of and had to go back to the main menu.

This is where I ran into yet another horrible developer decision. There is no save options for the game at all! It is meant to be a single session playthrough game, but there was no prompt at the beginning of the game that I will need to finish the game during my playthrough nor that I will need to make sure I have at least an hour and half of time set aside to play through it. Plus, there is a chance of getting caught somewhere and having to restart the entire game. If you are going to have this as a feature to your game, you have to warn the players and make sure there is no possible way the player could lose all progress over a developer error - like falling in a hole one hour into the game.

Graphics and Sounds

The music itself was practically non-existent. There was some in the delusion sections of the game and the occasional bit in the apartment for climactic moments, otherwise it is just dead air and talking.

Visually the game is not bad and I like how when you are in the delusion state there is a color warping effect to show you are on some kind of drug. However, the home was set up with a minimalist style showing that the home had only just enough house ware for the family. The weird art around the home was an odd choice as well. I get you were going for a weird atmosphere, but you want me to believe somebody would have paintings as weird as those in a house that was supposed to be the home of a little girl? No way that would work.

Replayability

Other than seeing what happens if you don’t obey the mystery man, there is no reason to go back through the game. The story is told in the first run of the game and that is the only thing worth anything in the game.

What Could Be Better

Get rid of so much dead air! I felt like I was just waiting majority of the game with nothing going on. You got a mad man that is drugging the player… give him hallucinations, make something scary show up, give us a jump scare, make us see shadows moves, make it seem like the paintings are haunted, give us something other than waiting on a phone to ring.

If the player is going to be spending pretty much the whole time in the apartment, it needs to either be bigger or have more stuff worth investigating. There should be stuff in the drawers like notes or books. There should be interactive objects aside from the few books on the counter. You can’t just make us wait around for the mad man to call. It gets boring.

There needs to be a warning in the beginning of the game that there is no save feature and that the player will need to plan to spend about an hour and half to get through the game. Many players, including myself, like to try a game out for about twenty to thirty minutes before actually deciding they want to dive into it later or maybe they just don’t have a full game session worth of time to commit at that moment.

Show us the animations of all of the deaths. Give us more than just the electrician and the mistress. Put more time into making them as legitimate as possible so that the deaths feel wrong and unjustified. If you are going to put us in these situations, make us FEEL the impact of the choices we are making.

Conclusion

The Works of Mercy has an interesting story that was just very poorly executed. A lot of aspects needed to be worked on, the game itself has literal holes that will make you restart, there is a lot of waiting around, and just countless moments that could use improvement.

GT3.png