A man suspected of killing his family is sentenced to a house arrest. Plagued by insomnia and nightmares, the player is taken on a trip through different nightmarish scenarios while searching for the truth. Experienced through the eyes of the man in question, in a small but atmospheric area, this game has a lot of potential. Another interesting fact is that nightmares are based on real people’s nightmares, so they should be something other than the usual clichéd scenarios we have seen in countless movies so far. Being a huge horror fan, I was anxious to see what this game had in store for my nerves!
DEVELOPER: JACK TWIN
PUBLISHER: JACK TWIN
GENRE: HORROR, FPS
RELEASE DATE: 20TH OF DECEMBER, 2016
TYPE: SINGLE PLAYER
After pressing “New Game” on the start screen, the game begins immediately. Without any intro, you’re thrown into a room. Looking around a bit you notice a phone, and a big green hand icon on the screen when hovering the cursor on top of it. I found it a bit odd that there wasn’t any “press a button to use this” type of tooltips, and no controls listed anywhere. I trusted the game to inform me if some special actions are required and continued exploring my house. Controls are the basic W-A-S-D, look around the corners with Q and E, mouse button for interaction and a crouch. At least that I know of. Big green hand icon, and door icon on doors shows what objects can be interacted with. I tried looking for an inventory for a while since I found items that I took with me. After a while I decided to check the options in case I missed some keys. There is no inventory, or options-menu. You can only start a new game, load a game, or quit the game from the intro screen. While in game you can either resume, load or quit. Control/settings-wise, the game is very plain. I didn’t feel the need to tinker with the graphical settings so it didn’t bother me too much.Saving system was strange as well. There is only autosave in the beginning, and so far the game seems to save always to the first slot, even though there are multiple slots present. Players can’t save their own gameplay, at least (again) that I know of, and I didn’t receive an answer from the forums either even though the developer seems to have answered some posts there.
This system had a big downside since there are bugs present. I was stuck in a small room with a door that I opened but I couldn’t pass through. I didn’t know about it being a bug yet, i thought it was supposed to be like that since I was inside a nightmare so I spent a few minutes looking for a thing that I could have missed but couldn’t find anything. I decided to load from the start and try again, and just walked out the door. Another time I died because I hadn’t figured out a way to outrun my enemy yet, and went back to the start to try a different tactic when I reached the spot again. Even if the levels aren’t big, it’s still an annoyance. After that door bug I was always wondering in similar situations, if this is another bug, or have I just missed something? Wondering if I should just load or try to spend a bit more time trying to find a solution. Sometimes it was the case, sometimes not. There was also a rather annoying crash to desktop bug sometimes after the save had finished loading. Not always, but more often than not.
Graphics are decent for an indie game, except the character models that are really different from everything else. I hope that was intentional to create a distinct style, or a dreamlike effect. They really do stand out from everything else for a reason that I can’t quite pinpoint at a specific spot. They just somehow strike to my eye as they would be paper dolls against a different background most times when we do see another character on screen. There are some clever tricks done with light in the yard for example, that fool you into thinking you can’t go past that point since it’s just darkness, but that’s just the corner of the house blocking the next light source in the yard, creating an area of darkness you have to go through while wondering what things lurk in the dark.
Some light play is present at the house, but that poses a little question: why would anyone enjoy living in a house this dark? It works in the yard to create suspense and horror, but inside the house it’s bothersome. It feels so out of place, even if it is a classic horror trick. A dark hallway leading to rooms. It’s not practical to setup your lamps at home like this. It might be just me, but I’ve always found that particular thing to be a cheap trick. Horror, in my opinion, works best when it’s realistic, easier to immerse and relate into it.
Take a few of these, and go to sleep…
I got really interested in this game with its marketing phrase about real people’s nightmares but it seems the developer just googled most general nightmares and coded those scenarios. Technically that wasn’t lying since people do dream about those but still… It feels kind of cheating.
Atmosphere in the house/yard in the beginning is promising when the player is awake, but the nightmares are straight out of every horror movie from the last couple of decades. There’s a clear nod to SAW-series in one scenario, and a character that strongly reminds me of Jason from Friday the 13th, a spooky little girl, dolls, partly lit hallways and a few other familiar tricks. I somehow understood (or hoped?) that the developer had interviewed his friends for example and turned their nightmares into a game, or looked into a bit more unusual nightmares. Now it feels that he had a great and interesting idea to build a game around, but took the easy way out and made another horror story about a troubled man and his family that we have seen many times.
Dialogue is spoken in Russian (at least I presume it is, I’m not an expert on languages). That was a nice detail, and helped with the immersion. Other sounds are used all over the game to give hints where to progress or to enhance jumpscares. There was a point where I heard a faint screaming from a woman, and thought that was a good one while I’m carefully strolling around this creepy (seemingly) endless stairway, but a while later I noticed it was looping after a certain time and it kind of lost its charm.
Should you buy it?
The occasional good atmosphere isn’t worth it. If you sometimes don’t know if the game is bugging or if it should work like that, it’s also a pretty big downside. It’s a shame. In addition to the bugs there are so many things that could have been done with an idea like this on the nightmare sequences. We all have those dreams that are completely twisted, devoid of any logic/laws of physics but feel completely normal while we are dreaming. The possibilities could be pretty much endless. Unfortunately, a great idea reduced to mediocre horror story that we see in many places. As a part of a bundle, sure, take it. But otherwise, you’re probably better off renting a horror movie if you’re craving a dose of horror. Unless you get a faulty dvd/stream, you’ll get most likely the same-ish story but no bugs.
(click on the image to see the rating explanation)