In Nightmare - PS5 Review

In Nightmare by developer Beijing Magic Fish Technology Co., Ltd. and publisher Maximum GamesSony PlayStation 5 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes.

In Nightmare, by Beijing Magic Fish Technology and Maximum Games, is a dark horror puzzle based adventure of a youth named Billy who is trapped within their own subconscious. It'll be up to you and their dream spirit to help them escape this nightmarish dream world filled with creatures and horrible memories simply adding fuel to the fire.

While seemingly dark and gloomy, In Nightmare is actually really nice to look at. While the very dark color palette may seem like it would be hard to see anything, there’s plenty of texture to be able to see and appreciate the world that has been built for this intricate and perhaps too well designed nightmarish journey. The only thing to mention in regards to the very darkly designed adventure is that it’s really hard to play in the daylight. Unless you have thick curtains to pull over the windows, I would suggest waiting for the evening or heading into the basement which only adds to the creepy atmosphere.

For the adventure itself though, puzzles, love them or hate them, get them off the bat or scratching your head in confusion, are not for everyone. The harder they are, the more frustrations that can come through. Estimated at about 8-10 hours, I blew right past that number as I often found myself wondering how the hell I was going to make it through some of the challenges set before me as there’s often not a lot to go on.

This is perhaps where I had the disconnect. There is nothing wrong with this approach when it is done right as it forces you to really look through your environment to not miss anything. Adding an extra level of difficulty is that sometimes you are forced to sneak carefully through and not alert the monsters, while in others, you are running for Billy’s life and there’s nowhere to hide. The only way out is forwards. Or at least you hope it is. To do this, you’ll be moving Billy around with the left stick and can use the “O” button to inspect items and interact with switches.

Adding a bit of twin-stick mechanics, you’ll also have access to Billy’s dream spirit. This butterfly-like creature can shine light through the darkness, use sonar to see where enemies could be in relation to Billy, and inspect things such as objects, floors and walls not currently perceptible to the human eye. Shining light in the darkness allows for you to better see where you’re going and what the footing is like as well as see further ahead and if it’s safe to move there or if it's a dead end while running for Billy’s life.

Switching from shining through the darkness to inspecting what is hidden to the eye, this becomes more and more necessary as time moves on. Items required to push forward such as fuses and cables to get a door back up and running are just as important as “upgrades” to enhance your spirit’s abilities as well as Billy’s own stamina as there is a lot of running away to be done. It’s not simply items and secrets though, you’ll also have to inspect your footing forward often as the paths ahead are invisible and you won’t want to fall off.

This all works really well as the controls are well designed and never get over complicated. Where the issues and the disconnect come in is that you’ll not only have very little to go on, sometimes you’ll have nothing and you have to just “guess” in order to get it right. With some of the puzzles, this is fine when you have nothing to go on and the puzzle is self explanatory. With others though? It could take me 30-40 minutes to figure it out and even then I was left looking at the screen wondering how anyone was supposed to figure that out. Looking at the “escape the room through the right door” puzzle.

Which leaves me in a weird place. On one hand, I appreciated the difficulty and the presentation of In Nightmare as you can clearly see the work that went into it. Not only do you guide Billy through this ever evolving nightmare, but you also get glimpses of how this nightmare came to be with notes and ghost-like flashbacks to what’s happened in the real world. Parents fighting, divorcing, new step-parents wanting nothing to do with them, teachers not wanting a child from a divorced family in their class as it would “ruin” the school's reputation, physical bullying and the list goes on.

On the other hand, you have super complicated puzzles that just break the flow as it can take a ridiculous amount of time to figure each of these out. The carefully required balance for the give and take just wasn’t there and it turned an interesting journey into what felt more like a chore to see it through. The enjoyment because of this break in the flow was simply no longer there.


So overall, In Nightmare does a lot of things right and never overcomplicates its mechanics while helping Billy escape this world of nightmares. On the other hand, the puzzles are often simply too complicated and when combined with chapters that can take hours to complete, the flow of the adventure is just not there causing more frustration than enjoyment.

Score: 6.5 / 10



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