Developed by Beijing Magic Fish Technology Co. and published by Maximum Games, In Nightmare is a narrative-driven horror adventure game, currently available as a PlayStation exclusive. For the purpose of this review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
In Nightmare begins with you taking on the role of a young boy, Billy, who we quickly learn has been through some really substantial trauma relating to his parents divorce and his home life. After going through all of this trauma, the young boy appears to be in some sort of psychiatric facility where he slips into a coma and becomes trapped in a nightmare of his own creation.
Scrambling through the darkness and fear, you're not alone - for good and for bad. Alongside Billy, you’ll have horrible concoctions of your own imagination stalking you in the shadows and seeking to stop you from completing your mission. My interpretation of these enemies that you come against throughout In Nightmare is that they are representations of people that have literally haunted young Billy throughout his real life and these are his nightmare interpretation of them. As mentioned, you will have one friend along the way in the form of Bikti, a small firefly type creature, that can illuminate the area ahead of you and collect things that may be hidden to Billy. There are portions of the game where you’ll need to use stealth to sneak past daunting enemies and likewise there are areas where you’ll have to outwit the enemies by using the environment to bypass them. Throughout the game you’ll be faced with numerous puzzles which initially felt intriguing and may have been my favourite aspect of the game; however, as I progressed this intrigue diminished alongside my enjoyment of them as they began to feel like they were just repeats of each other and they became stale for me.
Many of us have gone through traumatising events in our lives that it would be fair to say trauma is a familiar topic for many of us. I personally quite like to see movies, TV shows and games addressing these kinds of topics; there's something very special for me seeing the world no longer remain silent about mental health and it oftentimes reminds me that I’m not so alone; however these topics have to be handled with a certain amount of tact because otherwise it can begin to feel cheap and distasteful. One of my favourite examples of mental health topics being addressed in popular media has got to be the Pixar movie Inside Out. In my opinion, Inside Out paved the way for people of all ages to open up a healthy and honest dialogue about emotions and mental health. It was written consistent with scientific research and really had a positive impact on me and I’m sure many others feel the same. Likewise, I believe games should also exercise this same diligence when addressing such topics and maintain a high standard throughout however, this is very much where In Nightmare fell short for me.
Having battled my own mental health for a large portion of my life, and having friends with similar struggles of their own, mental health has become a topic I’m more than familiar with (I’m sure many can relate). I try to be open about my mental health struggles and always welcome healthy and mature conversations about it with others. I think one of the biggest ways to conquer poor mental health is by talking about it and sharing our struggles, our coping mechanisms and our experiences, whether they be good or bad. But there’s one thing that really grinds my gears and that is “trauma dumping” and unfortunately, rather than being a tasteful exposé into young Billy’s life, and containing good horror moments or satisfying puzzles, I simply felt like In Nightmare was repeatedly beating me over the head with trauma of one kind or another and I really felt like it fell victim to some poor writing. As mentioned, these topics should really be handled with a lot of tact to achieve anything; however, it just failed miserably for me story-wise and very quickly felt like it had already overstayed its welcome plot-wise. I persisted on regardless and unfortunately my mind wasn’t changed.
In Nightmare didn’t just falter story wise for me either. Graphically, it looked like something ported from the PlayStation 2 and as if it was released a decade later than it was created. The controls felt incredibly unresponsive and the way in which new ideas and concepts were introduced felt rushed. There were typos found within the the lore sections of the game for example, “Selectively refuse to response” was written in a copy of some doctors notes that I found as I was exploring around and finally, more often than not when instructions or information were written on the screen it disappeared too quickly, preventing me from actually knowing what was going on. All of these things just show a lack of finesse and attention to detail which I feel is very important. If you want fans to enjoy your game and appreciate what you create, some care and attention needs to go into the finer details
I really feel like I’m going to remember In Nightmare for all the wrong reasons. I don’t take much pleasure in writing negative reviews, but unfortunately, the negatives truly outweighed the positives for me. There is a distinct lack of care and attention that has gone into it in almost every sense and it became far too glaring for me. It certainly outstayed its welcome after ten hours of play time and it is a nightmare from which I truly wanted to wake up.
Lj’s Rating: 1 out of 5.
For more information on In Nightmare please use the following links...
Beijing Magic Fish Technology Co. - Developer |
Many thanks to Game Tomb for the Review Key.