Warning: Rage reaching critical levels
Developer: Anamik Majumdar
Publisher: Anamik Majumdar
Genre: Retro Action Platformer
Type: Single Player
Release Date: September 8, 2016
You play Razor, or RaZoR as it is mostly written in the game, who is a demon set out to save his family. When you come in, a Dooms Day has already started with the residents of Hell on the loose. In fact, it has been five years. Five years since his family was taken. Five years of trying to restore human to their rightful place.
While NightmareZ advertises as a story driven game, it has a basic story that really does not come into place till later. With the wording it makes it seem that losing his family years ago means that they died, not taken. This is the driving point of why Razor is fighting that takes a backseat unless it calls for it in a certain level. With fighting evil ghosts, and zombies later on, this put into it by giving instructions on how to play the game. It would have felt more natural, especially when you can learn this easily by playing through it. Other than this, it is rather forgettable.
After the Eye of Hell levels, level five through seven, it gives the sort of ending that says you’re in heaven from what I remember, then suddenly switches right after that to a snowy place. After this a sort of statistics pop up after a boss, which did not happen to the first one. This makes it seem it is separate entities especially with the change of the chat boxes. The last areas also seems to be rushed, the second to last area going to phase one to final instead of one, two, then final and the last one immediately going to final.
Playing NightmareZ is easy, only needing to use the keyboard to move and shoot. You can pick up health, ammo, and energy to stay alive (energy comes in later as a lightning ability). While the actual gameplay itself is easy in the beginning, it spikes quickly, going from easily getting the rings and dying a few times to dying left and right. Missing rings and having to restart all over again due to a save point being after a huge cliff you can’t jump over.
There are inconsistencies in the gameplay. Other than collecting rings, you get a level where you need to find a key. In a later level you are tasked with collecting snowmen, but an area is blocked off by the same door that was used in the earlier level. Combing the area will not result in a key, but collecting all the snowmen opens it up, having you at -1 keys. The lightning (the thunder skill) varies in length depending on the level. It will reach to the end of the screen but during a boss? No, forcing you to get real close to the boss with a short distance lightning attack. The chat boxes go from having no name, to have names and Razor being called You, and lastly you being called RaZoR(You).
The save system is mediocre, especially when you can not restart a level or go to a certain level. It is based on a pick up item type of deal so it is not based on the info on the level that shows up. This is not apparent till around level nine when you can die if you don’t pick up the save point right in front of you and be set to the previous level, making it obvious you were supposed to land where it was. One of the levels either before it or after further brings it into light as the text saying it was saved shows on the top of the map as it scrolls down. In a level, a cutscene happens but it is also the gameplay at the same time. It does not save and if you skip it will not register that you went to the other level. This is very annoying that it gives false information that skipping is fine. Saves have only been added in recently, and I cannot imagine replaying over and over. I can understand why I see that barely anyone got past a couple of levels.
The soundtrack is repetitive and playing a long time with it does get grating and the bullet sounds do get tiring. I did turn it down after around an hour or two. Once I got out of the first part, I did not know that it changed until it happened to bypass the settings. Even then there was an area that had no music at all even with it turned on. Lastly, the death screen has a loud sound effect to it that is not bad once in a while, but annoying getting it constantly.
It is easy to tell which parts of the game held more importance of art. The scenery is first, of course, with it being a platformer game and since it will take up most of the screen. To have the traps stand out by color and how some areas have a point of no return. Most of the bosses are next, having to have a unique design and taking up a ton of space. Sadly this is past the part where the most frustration is. The rings also pop out with it being bright yellow with green and red dots connected. The enemies and the characters are last. The enemies bring attention with their design and scheme, and you with the green and red along with the camera following you.
With the style of the game, it runs well. However when first starting it up or after a while of not makes it take a while for it to load up. Waiting on a black then white screen for a minute or two until it gets to the menu. Strangely the menu doe not pop up immediately, leaving the menu art by itself for a while. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not. In the gameplay, there also seems to be a bug with the enemies and certain traps.
Personally I do not plan on replaying NightmareZ at all, with how frustrating it is to even get past the fifth level and those after it. Out of the six hours of gameplay, most were to get past level five or redoing it due to a bug or not being able to go back to pick up missed rings. It’s useless going back to see the story again since everything will reset and there is no way to go by level. The achievements are mostly easy enough except a few, but the special __ boxes which unlock based on a certain designated one. Leading to one not unlocking even though I picked it up at least four times and the other unlocking during the last boss. Along with this there are achievements to kill up to 2,000 enemies (one saying 5,000 in the description) which I don’t think is possible since it is based on the individual save rather than over the course of playing despite the saves.
+ Funny ending
+/- Death screen too long in a title exclaiming you will die a lot
– Points of no return
– Start game leads to restarting your progress
– Frustrating to the point of giving up early on
– No indication of when traps or enemies attack, making it based on luck
NightmareZ sets out to be a retro story driven game that balances dying a lot to player retention. Sadly this does not work. You really just care about trying to get past a level rather than the story. While the ending is very hilarious, it is not worth it to go through the pain of dying over and over hoping a bug never happens or miss anything required. Especially when there is no way to restart a level without restarting from the beginning.
[ RESPONSE FROM DEVELOPER: Please note that, with the recent update, an auto-save feature has been added which auto-saves the game at the beginning of each level, the volume controls has also been added where you can increase and decrease the volume level. You can access Volume controls section from the main menu by clicking on “Controls”. For reference, you can view this announcement here: ANNOUNCEMENT ]
(click on the image to see the rating explanation)