Review: Neverending Nightmares (OUYA)

Neverending Nightmares: Official GBAtemp Review

OUYA 3,734 views 2 likes 0 comments
Reviewed by Another World, posted Oct 30, 2014
Oct 30, 2014
  • Release Date (NA): September 26, 2014
  • Publisher: Infinitap Games
  • Developer: Infinitap Games
  • Genres: Psychological Horror
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • Also For: Computer
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Trapped among his Neverending Nightmares, Thomas must discover his sanity while uncovering the buried secrets of his past in this psychological horror adventure game.
Another World

Wake up right now and open your door. Walk through it. Behind that door is another, similar door that leads to a hallway designed trap you in a world seemingly of no escape. Your need to be free of this place is incredibly strong, annoyingly tapping on the outer boundaries of your sanity. As you inevitably become entangled within psychological perils, you will continually reawaken into darker corners of your mind, until the faint light of hope is all that remains to guide you. This is Neverending Nightmares.

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Creative director Matt Gilgenbach has battled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Mental illness, it seems, has cast a lasting shadow upon his life, one so thick that expressing such personal challenges has become the backdrop for his latest project. Neverending Nightmares by Infinitap Games follows the dream world of Thomas, a young man enveloped by a haunting state of mental illness. His story unfolds within familiar horror settings as he battles for his sanity in an attempt to understand himself and those closest to him. 

Designed as a simple adventure game, players will guide the character of Thomas through linear levels stretched throughout a seemly abandoned house set deep within the woods and the frightening hallways of an asylum. These two areas will work together to intertwine varying levels of mental instability throughout the course of the game. Most puzzle elements remain simplistic, usually working towards pointing out the correct path, while others are simply the avoidance of specific perils. The lack of traditional adventure game puzzle elements allows Neverending Nightmares to maintaining an uninterrupted psychological horror-vibe from beginning to end. Subtle changes to each area work towards providing signs of forward progression until an unavoidable pitfall restarts each unique dream-like sequence. Upon reawakening, Thomas will find himself in a continuing state of deteriorating mental illness reflected by environmental changes. These may include subtle background changes, the use of shadows over light, and later the inclusion of enemies with nefarious intentions.

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Neverending Nightmares successfully merges visual and audio cues to perfect a comic-like expression. Alternative pen-and-ink styled graphics offer a hand drawn beauty that helps to create a buffer between the player and their experiences. The use of color has been utilized as a means for indicating important areas of the game, such as door knobs and retrievable items. It provides a sense of navigation without ruining the carefully chosen shades of black-and-white. Dynamic shadows move freely with Thomas as background images provide an impactful sense of abandonment. Splattered blood, creepy dolls, autopsy rooms, and creatively placed religious undertones merge with additional elements to build upon the ever-increasing theme of horrific mental instability. Audio aids the graphics to complete the overall psychological horror theme. The audio has been engineered so magnificently that it would be hard to imagine this experience without it. Everyday sounds like the clicking of a clock or the opening of a door enhance each area as you push forward throughout the game. Screams, low guttural sounds, and clearly distinguishable voices fill the void between footsteps and long gasps for breath. When combined together, the graphics and audio perfect an intense sense of psychological horror that is successfully maintained for the entire experience. 

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The level design, graphics, and sound are not the only perfected elements of this game. The programmers have paid careful attention to each control element as well. Simple tasks like walking down a set of stars and then exiting out of the doorway beyond do not require analog-nub adjustments. The gamer can simply hold one direction to navigate the stairs, and then continue holding this direction while moving a few steps beyond an exit placed in the opposite direction. It is extremely enjoyable to find this attention to detail as it increases the overall playability of the game. Interactive elements such as doors and objects can be used effortlessly thanks to these extremely well planned mechanics. 

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Neverending Nightmares is a beautiful experience from beginning to end. However, it is not an overly difficult one. The linear pathways are easy to navigate and provide very little challenge. Enemy encounters can mostly be avoided the first time, with subsequently more difficult encounters remaining solvable after just a few attempts. The entire experience will last only a few short hours. The most notable saving grace is the re-playability of a few select areas of the game. With branching pathways and multiple endings, the entire story can not be fully understood without experiencing each area. Thankfully, the alternative pathways for each ending are not obviously exposed and may take players a few tries to discover exactly what triggers them.

The horrific sensation of being lost among mental illness is perhaps indescribable. Attempting to explain an individual experience may be impossible without forcing the other party to live through it. While this game is not a direct representation of any one particular mental illness, it does help to paint a fuller picture through its intense imagery. It remains an extremely well planned psychological horror game, merging polished visual and audio experiences to creep the heck out of its players.

+ Beautifully hand drawn graphics
+ Unique pen-and-ink styled art
+ Masterfully engineered audio
+ Extremely well designed concept
+ Creepy from beginning to end
+ Smooth controls
+ Multiple endings
- Extremely linear
- Not overly challenging
- Rather short in length
out of 10
Neverending Nightmares is a perfect example of a commercial-quality Indie video game. Its graphics, sound, design, and controls each work together to enhance the theme of the game for the better. It is rather short, very linear in design, and offers few challenges, however, these things help to maintain the constant feeling of psychological horror and creepiness.

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