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Detention is a survival horror adventure game created by Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games. It is a 2D atmospheric side-scroller set in 1960s Taiwan under martial law. The game incorporates many religious elements based on Taiwanese/East Asian culture. The game was released on January 12, 2017 with a demo version debuting on Steam Greenlight on June 13, 2016. The game was inspired by the developers' desire to see eastern culture have a greater representation in video games.

Synopsis

Set in 1960s Taiwan during the White Terror period, the protagonists, Wei and Ray, are trapped in their remote school during a terrible storm. The school has changed in disturbing ways, haunted by evil creatures and spirits known as the lingered. As the characters explore their environment, sinister secrets are revealed about the dark past of the school and the characters themselves.

Plot

Wei falls asleep in class as his instructor, Miss Yin, is mysteriously called from the room and questioned about a book list. He later awakens to find the school abandoned due to an incoming typhoon. After exploring the area he finds another student, Ray, asleep in the auditorium. The storm prevents their departure as they find the bridge to their village has been washed away by a rising river of blood, so they return back to school to wait out the storm. As Wei departs to find a telephone, the game transitions to Ray as the primary character. Ray awakens in the auditorium once more to a dark and sinister version of the school where Wei is dead and hanged from the ceiling. Ray must wander the school, solve puzzles, avoid malevolent spirits, and find clues to uncover the story behind the school.

Ray was a bright and talented student and the only child of couple whose marriage had soured, causing Ray to neglect her studies. She visits with the school counselor, Mr. Chang to help with her depression and the two fall in love and begin a secret relationship. Unknown to Ray, Chang and Yin have been smuggling banned books for an illegal book club where Wei is a member. Yin confronts Chang about his relationship with Ray and reminds him that it could endanger the club. Ray overhears the conversation and misinterprets it as Yin trying to begin a relationship with Chang. Ray then convinces Wei to give her the list of books for the club, and hands the list over to Instructor Bai, a military officer posted to the school by the government. Yin escapes and leaves the country. Wei and his classmates attempt to burn the books, but are caught and imprisoned. Chang is implicated in the crime and executed. Instructor Bai gives Ray an award for turning in her friends, but she is bullied by her classmates for doing so and she eventually kills herself from guilt. The player is revealed to be playing as Ray's soul, trapped in her memories and unable to accept her guilt.

At this point, the player must make a choice to accept Ray's guilt, or deny her sins. If the player denies guilt, Wei, Chang, and Yin will appear to tell her the cycle will not end. Ray will then enter the auditorium once more and receive a noose as she walks on the stage. As she prepares to hang herself, the auditorium will fade back to reality where the school is abandoned and vandalized.

If Ray accepts her guilt, she will find a paper airplane with a message of love from Chang. As this happens, she sees the moment before Chang is arrested and he tells Ray that people should live freely without fear of oppression. The scene then shifts to Wei, who is an old man now. It is revealed that he was pardoned after the White Terror and Yin spent the rest of her life speaking out against the country's oppression. The game ends with Wei and Ray's ghost sitting together in his old classroom.

Characters

  • Wei Chung Ting - Wei is a junior at Greenwood High School. He and Ray are friends and he looks up to her. He is apart of an illegal book club and is later caught after Ray reveals his book list to Instructor Bai. He is imprisoned until the White Terror ends.
  • Fang Ray Shin - Ray is a senior at Greenwood High School. She comes from a broken home and seeks counseling and a relationship from Mr. Chang. She reports Miss Yin's illegal activities in the hopes of getting her fired, which results in the execution of Chang and the imprisonment of Wei. She is the main protagonist of the game.
  • Mr. Chang - The counselor at Greenwood High School. He helps Ray cope with her parent's unstable marriage and begins a relationship with her. He is also smuggling in illegal books for an underground book club. After Ray attempts to get Miss Yin fired, he is implicated in the crime and executed.
  • Miss Yin - A teacher at Greenwood High School. She runs the underground book club and is fearful that Chang's relationship with Ray will endanger the club. After Ray turns her in, she flees the country and spends the rest of her life speaking out against oppression.
  • Instructor Bai - A military officer posted to the school by the government. He is extremely strict, encourages students to turn each other in, and is always looking for wrongdoings.

Spiritual References

Throughout the game Ray encounters the lingered; malevolent ghosts from East Asian religion and mythology.

  • The Lingered - These are female ghosts that resemble Ray. If you don't hold you breath as you pass them, they attack.
  • The Lantern Specter - Giant ghosts that carry a lantern and patrol the hallways. You must turn your back to them and hold your breath when they lower their heads to check on you. If you do not, they strangle you.
  • Hei Bai Wu Chang - Two deities in eastern religion in charge of escorting the spirits of the dead to the Underworld. They appear on the doors in the basement of the school. When the doors are opened, Ray is transported to a different world.

Reception

Critical Reception

Detention received positive critical reviews, with praise given to the tense and nightmarish atmosphere as well as the historical significance of the plot. Praise was given to the eerie soundtrack that heightened tension and fear. Aggregating review website GameRankings and Metacritic gave the game 83% based on a total of 22 reviews. Rely On Horror gave the game a 9 out of 10, saying that “every facet of Detention moves in one harmonious lockstep towards an unavoidable tragedy, drowning out the world around you.” Detention also topped the games ranking on Steam in Taiwan and reached 3rd in Steam ranking globally within 3 days of its release.

Awards

The game received the "Award for Best Design" from Taipei Game Show in 2017. Detention has also received nominations for Best Narration from BIG Festival, Best Game Award from IndiePlay China, and Best Audio from IndiePlay China.