Neverending Nightmares Review: Wake Up!
Chad Whitney / Aug 10th, 2020 No Comments
Mental Health conditions are being taken more seriously nowadays. People are much more aware of the existence of mental illnesses, but it can often be a struggle to understand the feelings that produce as a result of a person’s condition.
Neverending Nightmares is all about mental health conditions and how traumas can impact a person beyond the conscious mind. This interactive experience creates anxiety and a feeling of claustrophobia, while simultaneously sending the player on a psychological journey of their own as they attempt to piece together the meanings of the various metaphors throughout each nightmare.
Pinch Me So I Know It’s Real…
Awaking from a dream where he stabs a young girl in the stomach with a knife, the main character immediately arises from the bed. The game has begun, but has the nightmare? Going back to sleep is not an option, so he takes a walk. The candlelit hallways make it easy to tell that this is an old-timey setting, while the debonair furniture and mundane painting makes it clear that this is the estate of a wealthy family.
The first indication of the main character’s name comes when a ghostly whisper of “Thomas” blows by, knocking down a family portrait. As Thomas continues through the mansion, the setting slowly changes. The paintings in the background are now more sinister, meanwhile, apparitions and other signs of a haunting occur before a ghostly whisper of “wake up” blows by.
These experiences are clearly unsettling, but it isn’t until Thomas arrives at the graveyard behind the home that he shows emotion. A memorial statue that reads: “Gabrielle Smith / 1878-1884 / Beloved Sister” causes him to breakdown to his knees in tears. It is then that he wakes up in his bed, again. This time his sister is standing over the bed, gleefully teasing him for still being asleep. She tells him to get back to sleep while she goes to wait outside. Rather than sleep, Thomas gets out of bed and exits the room to find that the mansion is slightly different. There is a boarded-up door and a couple of very dark passageways, one leading to a basement. It is now abundantly clear that this is a nightmare.
What Lie Beneath…
Most of the game is exploration. The player controls Thomas as he explores the various levels of his mind in an attempt to uncover the true nature of his never-ending nightmare. Each level begins with Thomas waking up and going for a walk. An often painfully slow walk, but that adds to the stress that comes with playing Neverending Nightmares. The developer clearly wanted to remove as much control from the player’s hands as possible in order to give the feeling of dread.
There is an eerie feeling that comes with the uncertainty of what might happen. At the start of the game, it is unclear if Thomas can die. The dangers surrounding him are mostly speculative at the start of the game, but it isn’t long before the apparitions become more hostile and intentional in their pursuit of him. Throughout the game, the player is forced to rely on sounds to navigate the corridors. Picking up on nearby sounds can be the difference between life and death. Whether avoiding the sound of metal dragging across the floor in Thomas’ direction or purposely stepping on broken glass to distract an enemy with no eyes, the sounds are easily the most important and well-executed element of this game.
Being trapped in Thomas’ perpetual labyrinth of nightmares is deliberately exhausting. The Tim Burton-esque art-style lends to the gloomy, depressed tone. Light is limited, creating a compressed field of vision that delivers a feeling of claustrophobia. It constantly feels as though the blood-drenched walls are closing in. There is a feeling of anxiety and paranoia that comes with the mystery of what lurks behind the dark. Combining the aesthetics with the uncertainty of when these nightmares will reach an end creates a heart-rending experience.
Neverending Nightmares is an intriguing game with amazing execution by the artists and musicians. The game does an excellent job of conveying anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. It really shines a light on mental health and some of the effects of mental illness. There is not much replay value, but those seeking a short thill or a rush of anxiety should give this game a try.
tags: Horror Games , Neverending Nightmares , Neverending Nightmares review , Nintendo Switch review , review