Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Developer: NC Studio
What makes Project Nightmares Case 36: Henrietta Kedward interesting is that it’s built around an interesting idea, except it sabotages itself by then allowing two of the dumb ideas – one of them possibly dumber than anything else I’ve ever seen – to take precedence over that interesting idea. It would be fascinating if it weren’t for the fact the end result is so mind-bogglingly awful.
First, the good idea: Project Nightmares Case 36 is a procedurally generated horror game where you’re walking through a nightmare, trying to piece together what happened to the eponymous Henrietta Kedward. Given that horror is all about creating tension and building suspense, having every runthrough be different is a neat concept – fear of the unknown is a great tool for tension and suspense, so if the game changes every time you play, you can see how that would be a huge plus.
Unfortunately, the drawbacks far outweigh the negatives. The game’s first bad idea (or, more accurately, poorly executed idea) is to overdo it with jump scares. While one here and there can be really effective, having dishes fly off walls, demonic faces popping out of nowhere, and random loud noises popping off every couple of minutes probably diminishes the effect more than anything else. It also doesn’t help that Project Nightmares Case 36 is the work of two people who undoubtedly didn’t have the budget to create really impressive graphics – so when you get a really close look at those demonic faces, the result is more laughable than scary.
Where Project Nightmares Case 36 really falls apart, though – and where it makes quite possibly the dumbest game design decision ever – is where it decided that the best way to explore the world was by having your character holding a dim candle/torch/flashlight basically right in front of their face. Consequently, not only is about a third of the screen covered by a flickering candle, it’s also the only object that’s really in focus. Occasionally other objects beyond the light come into focus, but only for brief, fleeting moments before it’s back to the candle. That means that apart from the moments where the jump scares cause you to move the candle away from your face, or where your candle burns out and you die, you can’t see a thing.
What makes this decision even more frustrating is that it’s so close to being a good idea. Your character is constantly having to turn the candle to pour out extra wax, and adjusting it in their hand so they have a better grip on it, or walk slowly so as to not snuff out the flame – these are all defensible ideas that you could imagine working out well in another, better game.
Instead, you spend all your time in Project Nightmares Case 36 looking at a candle taking up your entire field of view. Whatever good ideas the game might have, that one monumentally stupid decision literally crowds out everything else.
Feardemic provided us with a Project Nightmares Case 36: Henrietta Kedward Switch code for review purposes.