top of page

In Nightmare Review

anchor 1

When The Fever Dream Takes Over .

Read Time 11 minutes
dasddwad Review Background Image (6) (1).png
Review Main Image (1) (1).png
Share
Social Share Button (3) (5).png
Social Share Button (3) (4) (1).png
Social Share Button (2) (3) (1).png

Let us get something straight: as we know, there are games where, at a first glance, it is impossible to know what lies underneath a pretty, well-organized cover. In most cases, video game companies will, more often than not, try to showcase only the very best of what it is they have to offer, while hiding out of sight whatever uglier details they have that would grant them a near-instant pass by a huge portion of their target audience. Similarly, there will be times you'll see a game that sounds just too great to be true, and when you combine that with harsh critics, after a brief analysis of a single trailer, you can finally trace out why its reception didn't go as well as expected. While not fully applicable in the case of In Nightmare, the example remains more or less correct save for how it takes a little more than a single trailer and a few moments of experience to understand the reasons why such an interesting concept failed to reach to the skies.

 ...Sleep deprivation has never sounded as appealing as it does now... 

It recounts the story of a young boy with a disproportionate body-to-head ratio who finds himself in a coma due to traumatic events that happened in his early life, and now needs to put those to rest in order to regain control over his sleeping body before it's too late. Doing so will prove to be quite a challenge as dreams become nightmares and escaping from the child's subconscious mind without meeting resistance, put simply, won't be much too likely. A familiar-looking game that plays like and feels like the similarly named Little Nightmares, but that still remains a unique and distinct experience nonetheless.

For what it's worth, I think the game was delightful in its high moments and had a lot to offer, but fell short in its deliverance of a few key things, with most of them relating to gameplay, camera positioning, narrative and gimmicks, but don't worry as we'll be talking in detail about those a little bit later. To give credit where it's due, puzzles, for once, were amazing, and gave me a lot of trouble, but in a good-enough way that I can't hate them. The biggest problem I had with it was more so with how insubstantial and lacking the story parts were, meaning that you, yourself, shouldn't expect the entire game to be as enthralling or articulated as, say, any other game to have ever existed that wasn't developed inside the EA headquarters.

anchor 2

On another note, it's also a game that starts weird and manages to somehow end even weirder, as sparse notes and vague scenes of memories from the past with no dialogue whatsoever carry the much too important weight of conveying emotion, as well as telling us what is actually happening on the screen, leaving a huge portion of its blurry-by-default narrative in tarnished rags. Coincidentally, to pull a Miyazaki out of the blue like that without good reason didn't wind up doing the trick for me, as leaving such a lengthy story open-ended, with lots of it up to personal interpretation was more inconclusive and unsatisfying than, you know, tying those loose ends. 

Just Pray You're Not Dirty Minded: Don't Allow Them Thoughts .
 

Copy of Review Promotional Image (1).png
Untitled design.png

Publisher: Maximum Games

Release Date: Nov 29, 2022

Platforms: PC

Buying the game from the link above is a great way to support the site.

Taking heavy influence from the likes of Little Nightmares, the game also showed an imaginative approach to its creatures, with some of its styling also resembling the title greatly. If not for the fact that both games play on completely different perspectives — this one in a top-down point of view, you could almost say they are basically the same idea, almost indistinguishable in direction, but executed slightly differently in terms of setting and setup.

Tiny image reference framing (1)-gigapixel-standard-scale-0_50x.png

Info

"Have you ever had a dream that- you um- you had your- you- you would you could do so- you could do anything?" To start a chapter with a meme quote is not something I thought I'd be doing any time soon, but here we are. As I mentioned before, dreams make a big portion of the game, and just like in real life, those same dreams can be very strange, not to mention scary as one's mind allows them to be. In areas, for example, you'll often find walls crumbling apart, the ground giving up to an abyss stretching infinitely below it, and corridors that give you the eerie sensation of being watched at all times... Despite their abstract appearance, these same environments are masterfully crafted with lifelike details, adding depth and heightening the creepy factor of the game to a whole other level.

And don't let me get started on creature design — how utterly grotesque and at the same time fascinating some people's approach to certain polygons can be so as to come up with no more no less than aberrations barring ridiculousness. From jacked-up eyeballs with infrared cams wires for optical nerves all the way to invisible tree barks that look like Haunt from Pokémon, the developers clearly didn't shy away from coming up with the most outrageous ideas to torment players. Taking the opportunity, sound, music, ambient tracks, etc. also contributed amazingly in giving us an immense sense of urgency, or that we need to escape at all costs, else, once caught, we'd be truly doomed for eternity.

But, despite all of this, to me, the scariest thing about the game, surprisingly, wasn't even the eight-foot tall ladies roaming the halls, chasing after our well-taken-care-of porcelain skin, heck no! It was the camera controls, or lack thereof, to be more specific. When we take into account that enemies can spot our character from a few yards away without us being able to notice their presence through sounds or other visual cues, this otherwise inoffensive problem got to the point where it'd consistently sabotage attempts at playing the game the way it was intended.

Undeniably extremely well ambianced, areas in In Nightmare consist of several fragmented pieces of the child's memories, some of which include a school, a forest, and a creepy abandoned mansion, among others. An area known solely as The Hall of Memories connects each region together, acting as the usual central hub.

Tiny image reference framing (2)-gigapixel-art-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Undeniably extremely well ambianced, areas in In Nightmare consist of several fragmented pieces of the child's memories, some of which include a school, a forest, and a creepy abandoned mansion, among others. An area known solely as The Hall of Memories connects each region together, acting as the usual central hub.

Tiny image reference framing (2)-gigapixel-art-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Jk, that effect goes away quickly once you realize that the sprint button is a real lifesaver. Just like in other stealth games where getting caught usually spells game over, running past everything works surprisingly well for avoiding risks, and while hiding in wardrobes, bushes, etc. to avoid threats also helps, it's nowhere near as fun effective as outrunning gigantic monsters.

Tiny image reference framing (3)-gigapixel-art-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Jk, that effect goes away quickly once you realize that the sprint button is a real lifesaver. Just like in other stealth games where getting caught usually spells game over, running past everything works surprisingly well for avoiding risks, and while hiding in wardrobes, bushes, etc. to avoid threats also helps, it's nowhere near as fun effective as outrunning gigantic monsters.

Tiny image reference framing (3)-gigapixel-art-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Review Minor Image (5)-gigapixel-art-scale-1_00x.png
3d glasses black (3)_edited.png

How can the camera being angled at an uncomfortable degree all day long be possibly scarier than monstrously-sized creatures, you ask? Well, it's simply because it is the only thing we can't hide away from, of course. Besides, call me weird, but I don't consider being threatened with a good time every so often scary at all... 

While far from perfect, the game displayed several telltale signs of an incredible adventure, in line with traits from some of the greatest exploration-based games to have ever existed.

Arguably the worst thing about the entire game, what bothered me the most about it was the fact that there was absolutely no way to get around the inconvenience. Also, in being quite literally obstructable by anything and everything, while at the beginning of the game you won't really mind the annoyance that much, after a bit, once you start to realize you're unable to control its positioning and that your field of view is basically limited to a flying nymph (I still haven't been able to figure out what the heck it is supposed to represent, story-wise) that for some reason thinks of us as their center of gravity, you start to magically hate everything about it. And although the developers attempted their very best to soften the damage by making it so that walls become transparent once you're directly behind them, that still wasn't nearly enough to get the game on good grounds.

Unpleasantries aside, while I do think it's fairly abnormal for a 3D game to be so fixed on a single plane of view, and only adjusting/rotating when it feels like it, that, thankfully enough, wasn't such a big turn-off for me as it might be for others. Therefore, with the supposedly worst already past, finishing the game was only a matter of time, and, without glossing over the details, I hate to admit things, unfortunately, didn't get much prettier the longer I dared to continue playing.

anchor 3

But, for the sake of a fair and balanced review, I say it's better we leave whatever else I didn't find to be so good about the game for a little later... With that said, we'll now be redirecting our attention towards a more pleasant topic — things such as puzzles, secrets, mysteries, and, of course, everything in between! As you may expect, since those relate to a niche thing I'm not a huge fan of, there'll be lots for me to talk about, so buckle up, for, contrary to even my own expectations, the thrill of uncovering secrets here and there and solving mysteries for a change wasn't all that bad.

To Hide Or To Seek, That Is The Question: You Better Run Now .
 

In the topic of puzzles, in this world, there are only a handful of things that are able to get me more excited than a door locked behind whatever strange contraptions (bonus points if it's a giant mask latched by chains to a sturdy wooden door) put there with the intention of protecting its secrets from peering eyes. The mere thought that something marvelous or dangerous beyond comprehension is standing right there, an inch away from me, is enough to drive me nuts at times, without exaggeration. Okay, I might be exaggerating here, but just a bit, alright? Also, I have a tendency to see things barring my entrance as a challenge of sorts, but that effect goes away as soon as I remember that not every game gives its players the ability to turn on free flight mode at the press of a button using only a single console command.

​Being a lot longer than it leads to believe, the game suffers from an immense lack of cohesion mainly due to its continuity being all over the place, which in turn influences negatively our perception and understanding of its world and characters, making so that moving on without such vital knowledge feel like torture.

Tiny image reference framing (4)-gigapixel-art-scale-0_50x.png

Info

​Being a lot longer than it leads to believe, the game suffers from an immense lack of cohesion mainly due to its continuity being all over the place, which in turn influences negatively our perception and understanding of its world and characters, making so that moving on without such vital knowledge feel like torture.

Tiny image reference framing (4)-gigapixel-art-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Now, before we get too sidetracked here, the best kind of puzzles, to me, are the ones that can be solved by observing patterns, watching out for clues, and only then do we start to interact with whatever options for levers, cranks, and knobs said puzzle presents us. And even then, without a proper stimulus (rewards, in whatever form it takes), even the most reasonably fine of them fall flat in my fun-o-meter, in terms of me having the drive to piece them together. Or, worst of all, an apparatus where you have to somehow rationalize the randomest sh*t ever to unlock a passageway, which is arguably the dumbest way I can think of for puzzle-makers to expect their creations to be solved. 

 

With a great portion of the game consisting of escape sequences in conjunction with hiding sequences followed by a locked door/gate at the end that has no reason to require a key found on the other side of the planet to unlock other than to make players want to commit seppuku on the spot, alongside semi-useless short scenes that shows us 5-7 points of interest at once with no chance for us to remember where everything is unless the person playing has photographic memory, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say In Nightmare could've handled setting us up to vault breaking like a true burglar slightly better.

Examples of what I consider non-dumb ways to solve any given puzzle include items such as bulbs, arrows, numbers, and geometric forms, all of which are indicative of a quality puzzle that tells us what to do, without being explicitly obvious about it. Basically any kind of component that isn't completely random or far from the puzzle itself that it can feel almost unrelated unless you're paying extremely close attention to the smallest of details. stuck. illogical

Tiny image reference framing (5)-gigapixel-standard-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Examples of what I consider non-dumb ways to solve any given puzzle include items such as bulbs, arrows, numbers, and geometric forms, all of which are indicative of a quality puzzle that tells us what to do, without being explicitly obvious about it. Basically any kind of component that isn't completely random or far from the puzzle itself that it can feel almost unrelated unless you're paying extremely close attention to the smallest of details. stuck. illogical

Tiny image reference framing (5)-gigapixel-standard-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Review Minor Image (1)-gigapixel-low_res-scale-1_00x.png
3d glasses black (3)_edited.png

Mayhaps influenced by negative protagonistic energy, the kid's only superpower seem to be being able to quickly asses how to get past a certain obstacle in an instant, lacking any special ability of any kind other than walking around and commanding a fairy around, which is kind of lame, to be completely honest. 

Setting expectations low from the very beginning, a tall door that looks like it could hold the secrets to something evil or macabre is only an ordinary passage to an ordinary corridor.

On a similar note, secrets are yet another implement to make exploration exciting, or at the very least not as overly bland as to, you know, not incite dangerous thoughts while we're inside a child's mind. Tucked away behind illusory walls, as well as other hidden entrances, invisible footprints that can only be revealed by our pixie friend mark the path to collectibles, passive buffs to our character (usually stamina, so that we can run for longer), and even some upgrades which, in brief, grant our companion an increase in detection radius, farther flight distance, as well as minor improvements on our expendability of resources. They can be obtained by activating tall, glowing altars you can't miss after you've found how to access them, as they barely blend in with the environment.

Disappointingly, though, nearly half the leads you follow will guide you to a disk, or another meaningless collectible that won't amount to much outside of filling up a trophy case that at most unlocks a skin that, from what I can remember, will at the very least give you a different visual that you can then use on secondary playthroughs for achievements, or whatever else, which is undoubtedly a lot more than straight up nothing. Either way, hunting for vinyls, audio tracks, among others, isn't exactly what I'd consider rewarding exploration, so, because of this, it's not uncommon to lose interest or motivation to explore entire sprawling areas towards the end of the game, missing on everything there is to find.

​Collecting seemingly random stuff is one of the main features In Nightmares employs to keep players continue playing, even after they are long done with the main storyline. It is, as far as I know, the only reason to consider returning to an area, so I'd assume they'd have to be worth their while every so often.

Tiny image reference framing (6)-gigapixel-art-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Those would also be the main reason why I find it highly difficult to platinum the game, seeing as there are very few guides available to walk you through the 'missables' of some of the more branching areas, thus making getting the game to a hundred percent completion state almost an impossibility in most use cases and an even greater achievement for those who do manage to get it done. Plus, let's not mention that, as we've seen before, it's very easy to just run past everything, making it so that going out of your way to obtain mostly useless items that won't be beneficial in most cases an utter and complete waste of time, despite being mixed with great bonuses and upgrades that are actually worth the while.

anchor 4

Breaking Free From The Tethers Of Fate: Recovery Takes Effort .
 

Arriving upon a slightly more sensitive region, we land in a subject I've been wanting to discuss for quite a while now. ​As we already know, there are very few things that can be more detrimental to a game's development than a badly written story, or, in other words, how much incomprehensibly awful one has to be at getting a message across that their entire work gets compromised over it. Conversely, it's important to note that failing to understand a story just because it doesn't hand out enough information to formulate a full timeline in a single go isn't, by itself, enough to categorize it as bad writing, however flawed it might be, for then the fault would, theoretically, be in no one less than ourselves.

At the start of the game, when waking up in a hospital without a way to know what lies behind, much less ahead, after wandering around a bit, reading a couple of notes, it becomes quite clear the reasons why it was so fitting for us to start the game in such a strange place. While in the dream world we seem to be in relatively good health, in reality we are bedridden due to, as I mentioned before, a clinical case of trauma-induced coma, leaving our body in a state of unconsciousness that can be lethal if we can't recover in time, as hinted by the doctors that studied our condition, finding only a tiny fraction of the unchecked issues that took hold of our character, causing him to become a hostage of his own self.

To reverse the damage, we'll have to progressively beat subconscious fears taken form, results of major upset in our character's early childhood, that evolved to bind him due to the guilty he faced when confronted with the results of a few tragic events he convinced himself the sole person responsible for their occurrings. It is a fairly basic tale of maltreatment where its characters are hard getting attached to, and those that appear on the sidelines are so very forgettable you'd see them leave without noticing they had even arrived.

One of the few things that is actually made brightly clear about the story is how harsh life has been to our character when he was so young still. Heavily bullied in school due to being reclusive, in conjunction with having had his parents divorced, plus the guilty that followed the loss of an important figure all acted together to bring a dark cloud of severe depression to the child. The coma coming next was merely the body's natural response to the immense turmoil of being corralled by fate so aggressively without being offered time to react.

Tiny image reference framing (7)-gigapixel-low_res-scale-0_50x.png

Lore

Review Minor Image (4) (1).png

Visions of ghosts appear every once in a while to show bits of our character's past in an attempt to give us some form of contextualization, but failing to do so in a compelling way.

3d glasses black (3)_edited.png

Understanding that not everyone got time to sit through every non-sensical interaction, the ability to skip cutscenes is a well-thought-out way to get things over with slightly faster. That is not to say skipping is incentivised, though, seeing as you'd be missing even more on 'important' content.

Gravitating towards a model of narrative that leaves a lot open for interpretation, even though I believe I managed to get a somewhat good hold of what was going on behind the curtains, a great portion of what the story tells us in a much-too-fragmented format remains purely speculative on my part. That said, to tell you the truth, the biggest issue I faced with the game wasn't even the immense gap between each episode of information, but how frustratingly difficult they made capturing their meaning. If I had to take a guess, the only person who is probably able to understand it fully is the one responsible for their creation, which wouldn't be surprising, given that I wasn't able to find a single summary of the happenings of the game in a concise format.

Anyways, the sole fact that missing a single page of text can mean you won't be able to catch up for the rest of the game in terms of understanding, uh... everything, unless you specifically go out of your merry way to replay the entire level, searching everywhere for a piece of paper you likely also won't be noticing the second time you come across them is enough to make me utterly detest it overall. Before, when skimming through some of the criticism the game has received, I had just thought it unfinished, or perhaps incomplete in a way even, but after seeing how abysmally dismal it was even when getting to the point of setting up the stage for what's likely a sequel, I only now begin to understand how very valid the sentiment of calling it a bipolar mess actually were.

anchor 5

Actually, allow me to rephrase that — I don't agree that the disservice it does should be called 'messy' at all. Think of it more as "squinting to see worse", where those who try to understand the three-paragraph-long worth of lore, they'll end up leaving the scene more confused than those who don't care enough to even attempt. And to add salt to injury, that is assuming we somehow, figuratively speaking, get through the unsavory pile of reject (everything else bad with the game that we've previously talked about) in the first place.

- Spoilers - Because the game ends so abruptly, leaving a bunch of questions unanswered, one can only assume that by showing our character waking up alone in a seemingly empty or perhaps abandoned hospital can't possibly be the end. Finishing the story there would not only be odd, but extremely unfair to the players who had to sit through everyhing up until that specific point.

Tiny image reference framing (8)-gigapixel-art-scale-0_50x.png

Info

- Spoilers - Because the game ends so abruptly, leaving a bunch of questions unanswered, one can only assume that by showing our character waking up alone in a seemingly empty or perhaps abandoned hospital can't possibly be the end. Finishing the story there would not only be odd, but extremely unfair to the players who had to sit through everyhing up until that specific point.

Tiny image reference framing (8)-gigapixel-art-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Final Thoughts: When The Voices Prove Too Much To Handle .
 

Copy of Review Final Thoughts Image (2) (1).png

Quite literally off-the-grid in terms of... you- you already know what... In Nightmare is a game that suffers from a severe case of fruitcakery, where the negatives far outweigh the positives, hence why it's so hard for me to recommend you play it. Riddled with tiny discomforts and traces of bad (sometimes terrible) decisions, the game feels really miserable to stare at for longer periods of time, which is why it only gets worse with it being way lengthier than it leads to believe. Its biggest sin, however, was a misjudgment of how much fruit to add to the cake, making it so that being exposed to such high quantities of unsavory food enough to cause a major sensory overload in those unprepared — a terrible gamble to take.

But, as I always say, what counts is the intention, and just so you're aware, In Nightmare is for sure full of amazingly great intentions. What holds them back is completely up to debate, but to me, a poor execution of concepts, as well as a subpar storytelling were what contributed the most towards making the game feel as mid as it is. Another thing is that while it being somewhat comparable to Little Nightmares was mostly a great thing, it didn't wind up working entirely in its favor, seeing as the far more successful title isn't only its role model, but also a far better look that when put side by side, its flaws only became all the more apparent.

While it might not seem like it, I really tried to remain impartial until the very end. What's more, I do acknowledge​ that the game was kind of great when viewed from the bigger picture, the unfortunate part being that it just so happened that the issues it has were far more pronounced than the rest. Plus, if we were to disconsider the several red flags the game displays throughout its length, it still wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary, even without them hindering our enjoyment.

As subjective as it can get, while I can see the possibility of the game being somewhat enjoyable for some people, the unceremonious ending in addition to a bunch of cut content as seen in art pieces we can encounter makes the game a huge downer however interesting you might find it to be from a surface level, so if you're looking for a horror game that really delivers, I'd suggest looking elsewhere.

 

Positive symbol 1

A lively art style with quite a few highly busy scenes makes the game look amazing and well-thought-out.

Positive symbol 2

Very few bugs and smooth performance, which for an indie game of this length is a major sign of dedication.

Positive symbol 3

Straightforward gameplay/controls with little to no over-the-top complicated mechanics.

Positive symbol 4

Clearly defined goals to work towards after you've completed the game that gets you to keep playing.

Negative symbol 1

Nearly non-existent camera controls can make the game feel limiting and nauseating at times.

Negative symbol 2

A poorly-constructed story makes the game feel shallow and extremely difficult to decipher.

Negative symbol 3

Exploring loses its value halfway into the game, which sucks for those who into a more completionist type of play.

Negative symbol 4

The game ends on an open note, leaving behind a lot of extra questions as opposed to answers.

Copy of Review Final Image (3)-gigapixel-very_compressed-scale-0_90x.png

In Nightmare

While not a bad game per se, it had so many nit-picky problems that as soon as you find yourself in the middle of the storm, all you want is for it to end as soon as possible. Besides, even without those, it still is quite forgettable and nothing out of the ordinary.

03/01/2023 - Caius, The Innocence Incarnate

5.5.png

​Likely saved for a sequel, there is quite a bit of concept art for what I think are bosses, and most of them look pretty neat and fitting into the design of the game. While it's a shame we didn't get to see them realized this time around, it'd be great to see the developer salvage it with a sequel.

Tiny image reference framing (9)-gigapixel-standard-scale-0_50x.png

Info

​Likely saved for a sequel, there is quite a bit of concept art for what I think are bosses, and most of them look pretty neat and fitting into the design of the game. While it's a shame we didn't get to see them realized this time around, it'd be great to see the developer salvage it with a sequel.

Tiny image reference framing (9)-gigapixel-standard-scale-0_50x.png

Info

Other Posts

Share
Facebook social media share button 2
Twitter social media share button 2
Reddit social media share button 2
ss_ae4465fa8a44dd330dbeb7992ba196c2f32ca

Release Thoughts: Cyberpunk 2077 - "A long way to redemption"

In Nightmare Review | Retro_Vision

When The Fever Dream Takes Over ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎

A Plague Tale: Innocence Review | Retro_Vision

A Million Eyes Waiting In The Dark ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎

GreedFall Review | Retro_Vision

Killing Two Stones With A Single Bird ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎

bottom of page