Neverending Nightmares review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4
Publisher: Infinitap Games
Developer: Infinitap Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

When I was, like, five or six, I had a nightmare I’ve never forgotten. I was trapped in my house, and every time I opened a door, found myself face-to-face with horrifying monsters.

Is that boring to read about? I would think so. After all, in general, when someone tells you, “I had the craziest/scariest/freakiest dream last night,” the story that follows is usually only of interest to the person telling it. (Though I’d like to think that the aforementioned dream ending with me turning into He-Man and being able to leave my house unimpeded would count for an unexpected twist.)

Neverending Nightmares 1

I mention this in the context of Neverending Nightmares because it’s boring. I get that it’s creator Matt Gilgenbach’s way of conveying his own personal journey through mental illness and OCD, and I wish I could say literally anything other than that, but the fact is there’s really no other way to describe it. There are only so many times you can slowly shuffle your way through an Edward Gorey-inspired house before it loses its appeal. In fact, if I were a truly snarky kind of person, I might even suggest that the number of times is roughly zero.

That, however, would be overstating things, because even if Neverending Nightmares ends up pretty dull, it also does some things fairly well. For starters, there is that Gorey influence; any time you can bring to mind creations like his, you’re doing at least one thing right. Not only that, Gilgenbach uses colours pretty well; in a game that’s largely black and white, there’s something distinctly unsettling about the occasional splash of blood-red. On a related note, the sounds — the creaks and groans and moans — do a decent job of making you feel a little unsettled, particularly if you’re playing the game with headphones.

Neverending Nightmares 2

Unfortunately, once you get past the atmosphere, I don’t think there’s as much to recommend. As I said, the game consists of you waking up, walking around, dying, and then waking up again. Wake up, walk, die, wake up, walk, die: however accurately that may convey the feeling of being an Obsessive-Compulsive person, it doesn’t make for the most riveting experience. It also doesn’t help that you move at a crawl through each room, and any attempt to speed up ends with you wheezing and gasping for breath a few moments later.

If we were grading games solely on their intentions or their aesthetics, I have no doubt that Neverending Nightmare would score extraordinarily highly. The former, after all, is quite admirable, while the latter is executed quite well. But unfortunately, that execution doesn’t extend to the gameplay, which means you’re left with a creepy-looking painting that doesn’t do a very good job of drawing you in.

Grade: C