Zylos' NIGHTMARE Reviewed

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For going the distance for a balanced breakfast.Project of the Month winner for June 2009For being a noted contributor to the RMRK Wiki2013 Best WriterSilver Writing ReviewerSecret Santa 2013 Participant
Hi there, M00s here. A little while ago we had the GIAW 9 contest, and Zylos submitted this game for consideration. That was almost two years ago, and no one has done a non-GIAW judge review.

I just played the game and I think it deserves one.

Nightmare was awarded 1st place in GIAW 9, and in the author's opinion, rightly so. Around this time, VXA had just been released for sale in the United States, and was Zylos' first attempt at using that software. Despite this, the game was done in a week and done well,

Spoiler for Overview:
Nightmare is a psychological thriller/horror game. I have a difficult time with games, movies or any other media in this genre, because so many "horror" works are nothing but startling the audience with the mute monster of the moment and the obligatory ever-dwindling band of college kids dying in more grotesque and improbable ways. Being a medic, the gore not only doesn't scare me, it fails miserably at suspending my disbeleif.

As far as being startled goes, well, it has its place, but it gets so overused. Of course a loud noise in a quiet, dark room is going to startle the average person. If that's your "horror", then I think "YOU SUCK."

I'm happy to report that I found neither problem in Nightmare. After the first ten seconds of play, I knew this was a well made, thought out project. I found myself crying aloud as I'd turn a corner and find something (no spoilers here!) that wanted to get me.

Spoiler for Mapping and Screen Layout:
The Mapping was the game's weakest point in my opinion. Not that the maps are bad, they just don't jump out and punch you in the face. I did enjoy seeing the neatly arranged rooms with all the real-life amenities you'd expect to find in a hotel room, all in rich browns and golds.

Spoiler for Graphics:
Most of the other graphics were RTP, with the notable exceptions of the hospital tiles, blood-stained elements and the chilling messages left behid on the walls. *shiver* In addition, the death scene for the character truly is frightening; not because of gore, but because the last image you are shown is probably the last thing your character would have seen.

One of the game's conventions is that of a television going to snow when bad things happen- ever since I saw The Ring, this has frightened the living bejeezus out of me, and I rediscovered that fear while playing Nightmare. Thanks a lot, fox boy...

The XP-style characters seemed like an uneeded throwback to me- on the other hand, the taller, more detailed style of XP does tend to shift focus to the characters themselves, which gave the game a cinema-like quality, which, unlerss I am mistaken, was the designer's intention.

Spoiler for Audio:
Nightmare's music and sounds were perfect to create the intended mood. Everything from screams to breaking glass and the heartbeat which signalled your impending doom were placed flawlessly into the experience, and none were overused. The inclusion of the song "Shaboom", played over an old time radio was another element of the audio which gave not only a tad bit of foreshadowing, but I think we can all agree- happy music played in a room where your life may end at any moment is just- well, horrifying.

Spoiler for Gameplay:
The gameplay itself was fairly simple, and in this case that's a good thing. There is no combat in Nightmare; there is exploration, collecting of key objects to reveal more of the path foreward, and puzzles- if you make the wrong decisions, you won't advance, and if you zig when you ought to zag, you die. That's easy to do, considering the screen is darkened.

Oh yes, I seem to have failed to mention the darkness. You can't see what's coming untill it's on you. I defy you to play through this game without loosing a stifled scream at least once.

The player is forced to explore and use their brain to solve puzzles such as the combo to a safe, a parental lock on a television and so forth. There is also a switch-throwing event and a box push puzzle, so you're not getting bored with the same old "go here, collect that" style of gameplay.

Spoiler for Professionalism:
Nightmare was definitely made by someone who knows their programming. One of the maps is a balcony to a ballroom in which Zylos used the first floor as a parallax. Nice touch, that. The use of mode 7 appeared in one scene as well. Just one, you say? Yeah. And it was all I ever want to see again. Wrapping up the list of goodness is the time it tales to complete the game. The hour I spent playing was quick and I was able to have been told a complete story (with the obligatory surprise ending) without sinking days into the game.

If you have read this far, you're either a fan of my writing, you're Zylos, or the game appeals to you. I really hope it's the last option, and if it is, go get the game. Put it on your desktop and play it several times. Make different decisions. I'm going back to find out what the other possibilities are for the ending!



Well Done, Zy!

M00s
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 10:57:46 PM by EvilM00s »
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