Saturday, 23 November 2013

Neverending Nightmares - Impressions

Neverending Nightmares is the upcoming indie-horror by Infinitap Games, and takes influences from a number of different places. Frankly, one of those places must be hell, because this game is as disturbing as it is scary. I loved it.

This game is a psychological horror game inspired by the real horror of Matt Gilgenbach’s battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. It features a truly interactive narrative structure allowing you to shape the outcome of the game.

The first thing you’ll notice when you load up the demo is the extremely unique art style, which looks like a child’s drawing; Possibly drawn by one of those terrifying Asian children from The Grudge. Everything has a pen-scratched quality to it, and it felt like I was tip-toeing across a sketchbook. This design choice was influenced by Edward Gorey, an American writer and illustrator known for his unsettling Victorian and Edwardian style stories and drawings.

Gorey. The artist of your nightmares.

This style lends much of its disturbing nature to the demo, as I often felt as if the world was closing in on me with the scratches of a cruel artist’s pen. Much of the demo is black and white, except for two things. Interactive objects… and blood.  Naturally, this means that the player’s eye is drawn to them. The blood, in particular, is almost too much in the monochrome setting, but it’s something that you’ll need to adjust to, and quickly.

The title of the game is especially fitting for two reasons. Firstly, because it’s something you’ll experience after playing the demo, and secondly, because of how the game makes you feel every time you ‘die’. I use the term loosely, as there doesn’t seem to be any real death or failure in this game. The few times I ‘died’ - in the darkness, sweaty and panic-stricken – I awoke back in my bed, where you begin the demo.

A lumpy mattress is my idea of a nightmare.

As someone who likes to over-analyse every single part of life, I couldn’t help but also think about how this gameplay mechanic might be a reflection of the depression that Gilgenbach is trying to express. For example, imagine walking through each day waiting for something awful to happen to you. You’d mistrust everything and everyone around you, thinking they want to hurt you – which was certainly how I felt during the demo. Then, the next day, you wake up, and realise that you have to do it all over again.  

I’ve never experienced depression for myself, but Neverending Nightmares had me trying to understand the mental illness further, which is something that needs to happen more in gaming – and in all forms of media.

At least now he has two pairs of pyjamas.

Even without its deeper meanings, that will no doubt enhance the game, the demo of Neverending Nightmares offers a disturbing and jump-scared filled experience. The Gorey-inspired art style, eye-catching gore and many forms that horror takes throughout mean that this is one of my most-anticipated indie scares. 

Though it’s Kickstarter project is long-since funded, you can still back the project, receive your deserved goodies and scare yourself silly here.  

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