Dead Man's Diary PC Review

Dead Man's Diary starts off strong but the tedium quickly drains the interest in exploring this man's journey.

By Grayshadow, Posted 30 Mar 2022

Dead Man's Diary has you attempting to survive a nuclear aftermath with little direction other than survival. The sense of seclusion as nature retakes the world and the only thing left of humanity's dominance is empty buildings and abandoned equipment has you on edge. Despite the excellent tone and atmosphere, the game's constantly fetched quests and need to recycle similar tasks becomes tedious and vexing. Dead Man's Diary creates a believable sense of isolation, but monotonous gameplay will likely cause enough irritation that many will lose interest quickly.
 

Dead Man's Diary,NoobFeed,TML-Studios,
 

Dead Man's Diary has you in control of a survivor who was forced out of his bunker. The world fell to nuclear destruction not out of a global war but one man who couldn't handle the idea of dying, deciding if he dies, everyone else should as well. The result was the world was savaged by nuclear warheads, and those who survived lived in bunkers; unfortunately, when supplies ran thin, people were forced out to save the rest, and we are one of them. Abandoned in the middle of nowhere, all you can do is survive. It's an interesting premise, a random nobody thrown into a horrendous situation and without direction just tries to find a way to live to see tomorrow. The gameplay doesn't pair well with the narrative often involves searching mindlessly for that key item you need to progress without a sense of where it could be. This random searching leads to a lot of frustrating moments as your meters begin to deplete and you wander the same areas over and over again only to realize you walked past precisely what you need.

Much of the game is about locating items to keep yourself hydrated, fed, free from radiation, and just to progress. All of these supplies are found in the world, but most are contaminated with radiation, requiring the player to scan them beforehand. This is where the game highlights exploration as missing the essential items like the Geiger counter is possible. Games usually have a type of barrier that prevents the player from missing these essential items, but here it wasn't the case. This sets the pace of the adventure, you're going to have to search carefully, but even then, you might miss something you definitely need.

Scavenging for items is going to become tedious fast. Your character constantly needs to build a new camp in each area, requiring you to find the same supplies over and over again. You might ask, "Why doesn't the person just take the supplies with them?" and I cannot answer that for you as the game doesn't provide an answer to this. Moving from area to area is presented in a valid way to ensure the character cannot remain in the same area despite sometimes containing a wealth of stockpiles. This is usually done by a huge threat where you have to move to the next area, but like searching for supplies, the next area's location isn't presented well. You just have to the end edge of a specific part of the map, usually at the end of a path, and it'll trigger a menu telling you you're about to leave the area.
 


 

Survival plays a major role by having the player gather items to either craft or use. You'll have to manage thirst, hunger, radiation, and heat with rain, causing a distinct radiation sickness that reduces when you are in cover. Since the protagonist can only hold 3 of any items, you'll constantly be strapped for items. This decision was likely made to increase the challenge since recovery for any stat requires multiple uses of the same item. It doesn't complement the overall nature of the adventure, though, as someone in this position would likely hold more than just three items of each, and with the inventory being so limited, having the player be forced to use supplies just to make room is upsetting. Either reduce the item count or the rate the meters decrease. You can only craft at campsites, but these are left behind despite having useable material that should be reusable. For some reason, important items are labeled as "unknown object" despite you needing them for essential tasks, so occasionally, I didn't even know what I was looking for.

Equipment upgrades are available for every tool you have. The most useful tools are the flashlight and Geiger counter, which you'll use a lot. The Geiger counter doesn't have a battery, but the flashlight does, and since the lightning effects and photo-realistic visuals are very well done, managing your light's battery becomes essential, or you'll be lost in the dark. The developer's included a strange control scheme where you hold down the mouse wheel and select the item using WSAD. Other than that, the controls work well, and it's easy to quick-select menus and items.

The protagonist does speak to themselves to combat the isolation and keeps notes of what they're doing. You can also find notes from those who lived in the various areas, often showcasing what life was like for those living in abandoned homes. It's a good way to provide context that these areas once had dozens of people living and working in the area, and all that's left is the hollow halls of their left-behind things.
 


 

Much of Dead Man's Diary is about trying to find a specific object to progress. Whether that's a key, battery, gas, or code and you're going to backtrack a lot for these things. Since they're well hidden and the game gives you a little direction, expect to be wandering around to the point of search madness. In one situation, you need to find a key to a door, but when you try to hop the fence, which is possible given the height, there's an invisible barrier. This could've been an interesting mechanic where more than one solution existed, but the game makes sure you follow this rigid path. Even half-destroyed doors still require you to lockpick them if locked, with the lockpicking system being similar to The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim's system. The game gives you no clues about where this item is or where to start looking; just go find it. This problem is heavily hinted at the beginning of the game. The developers include arrows to show where the first set of key items is located but once these are gone, expect to search each area randomly, hoping the item is there.

Even though the gameplay is stale tedious collecting, the presentation is done well. You feel alone, and the music keeps the sensation that you are being stalked a constant possibility. Like being alone for too long, the protagonist jumps at every sound, assuming it's someone or something. Occasional it is, and they're real threats such as a hungry bear that requires quick thinking. But once those exciting, tense moments pass, you're back to searching for that one diesel can that could be anywhere.
 


 

Dead Man's Diary starts off strong, but the tedium quickly drains the interest in exploring this man's journey. Having to constantly forage for the same items, scan every little thing, and search randomly, hoping you get the object needed to progress overshadows the terrific presentation. At first, you'll be on edge, wondering if something is in the dark and having no way to defend yourself to running around hoping that the last stack of wood is just around the corner.
 

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed

comments powered by Disqus

NoobFeed

General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): TML-Studios
Developer(s): TML-Studios
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Walking Simulator
Release Date: 2022-03-30

View All

Popular Articles