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Great moments in PC gaming: Evading the Lingered in Detention

(Image credit: Red Candle)

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Detention

(Image credit: Red Candle)

Year: 2017
Developer: Red Candle

Detention is basically a Silent Hill game only 2D and set in a high school in Taiwan. Of course, that changes everything.

From the late 1940s to the late 1980s Taiwan went through a period of martial law and suppression of political dissidents called the White Terror. This is the backdrop for Detention, in which you play kids who could be branded criminals just for joining a book club. While that layer is important, the stage for this story is a haunted school. The White Terror is always there, but ghosts called the Lingered are the immediate threat.

There are two kinds of Lingered. The first mutter and cackle as they wander back and forth, stumbling slowly and then out of the blue teleporting a short distance with a whoosh, suddenly appearing where you least want them to be. They can be distracted with offerings of food, little bowls of rice they wolf down, but the main way to get past is by holding your breath. They can't detect you when you're not breathing, but obviously you can't hold your breath forever. You just have to hope you've got enough in your lungs to get to whatever classroom they're blocking. As you step past them, muttering and giggling to themselves, your vision blurs. You keep taking cautious steps, but you have to inhale soon. Are you past the range of their hearing, or are they going to jerk their lank, hairy heads around as soon as you breathe again?

The other Lingered carry lanterns and stand at twice your height. When they approach they lower the lantern, a huge bright globe, sniff, and taste the air. Again, holding your breath is the key, though you're also supposed to turn away and not look at them. You have to stand there and wait, like the kids in Jurassic Park trying to avoid a t-rex, only here it's a nine-foot tall dead woman with swamp hair and fingers made for choking.

(Image credit: Red Candle)

You wait till she stops sniffing and raises her head, then begin to step past her long legs. If you right-clicked to hold your breath at the right time you'll be fine. If you did it too soon—easy to do when you've no idea how the Lingered really work and only hints in your notebook to base avoidance techniques on—soon you'll feel those fingers on your skin.

While the early Silent Hill games gave players guns and sticks to defeat monsters with, by the 2009 reboot Shattered Memories they'd realized psychological horror could work without them. Detention builds on that, using monsters to create tension and relief, little stealth puzzles between its rooms full of blood and history. 

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was published in 2015, he edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and actually did play every Warhammer videogame.