This is a guest review from Hagan: 32/M/Chicago/Single
In this dark modern world that we all live in, child abduction and trafficking is a problem that is needed to be brought to the spotlight, and there is no better way to bring this grotesque practice’s attention to the public than through an indie game. Nightmare Boy completes this task by telling the story of a boy named Billy, whose pillow turns into a monster and attempts to kidnap him to give him to his Queen as an offering. You get in a fight that you can’t win, hit some green gloop that your pillow spews out, and you are transformed into this ugly ugly child who inhabits nightmare land, but cannot leave by waking up. Why anyone would want to own this child is beyond me, I guess it is all about having power.
The goal of the game is to fight your way through monsters and mazes to save all the other children who are being held against their will in Nightmare land. Just don’t hit the good circular clock people who are the only good hearted inhabitants left.
Imagine if SNES Castlevania and SNES Metroid met up, fell in love, and had a child. The child looks more like Castlevania, but you see hints of its mother Metroid in it. This is pretty much what you are getting here. The style of combat is lot like Castlevania but instead of a whip you have a close range punch and a variety of secondary weapons that are limited by a power bar.
The world layout is similar to a Metroid type, where you are not in a linear straight path, but have to explore in every direction to see where you can go next. You come to points where you do not have the required power up, and need to backtrack in order to find them. I ended up getting lost twice while playing, where in Metroid I find this as an entertaining puzzle, but in this game I was just more annoyed because the barriers designed to stop your progress are not definitively marked. I kept trying to advance past these points, kept getting closer and closer, only to then find out that I did not have the required skill, even though I saw progression in each attempt.
The biggest complaint is the save feature in this game. You must use rubies that you collect along the way to save, and each time you save, the price goes up. Tip: Save every time. You will not run out of rubies. It is an interesting concept, but that is not what I have a problem with. You will die a lot in this game, and each time you die, you go back to the last save point. This makes you repeat tedious tasks over and over, until you just want to quit. After dying on a boss, the game has to load, I start at the save point, and then do 10 minutes of work that I already did 5 times to get back to the boss. It gets repetitive and boring; just put Billy right back at the boss fight so I can right my wrongs and learn how to defeat whatever abhorrent beast I must slay to continue on my quest!
The buttons were pretty easy to pick up on as they had it designed like any other platforming game. If you have played video games before, you will be fine.
Building a nightmarish hell hole that children are sucked into was portrayed amazingly in this game for a platformer. The disgusting monsters, the dark (sometimes too dark) eerie surroundings, and the retro style made me feel more immersed into the world. Monsters that resembled what is in my typical nightmares actually gave me goose bumps or grossed me out. I applaud the animation, but suggest playing this on the television, as it becomes too dark in handheld mode.
There is also a retro graphics mode that makes it look like you are playing on an old tube TV with thicker horizontal lines across the screen. This was fun for about two minutes and I never went back.
While the music matched the ambiance of the game, it didn’t change much. Boss battles were less exciting and memorable mainly because the music didn’t change. It was not as epic, and each time you saved another child kept in a cartoonish birdcage prison cell, there was no burst of excitement with the music. Instead of an ‘end of level’ excitement, you just keep drudging on.
At times, the sound effects added to the gameplay by making the enemies even more evil or disgusting. Besides that, nothing much really stood out.
This game is going to have its fan base of Invader Zim watchers or April Ludgate types, but to me the game was pretty average. There were times where I took pride in accomplishing a feat in the game, but in the end I could have easily filled that void of boredom with something else. After playing for three hours, there was no real urge to go back and finish the next part of the game.
- Graphics paint a great picture that help you feel more part of the game
- Good balance of difficulty
- A lot of this has been done before, and better
- Having no save point before bosses
- Weak Storyline
Disclaimer: A digital copy of the game was provided by Badland Games for review purposes.