The Nightmare Inside: Were Pants Crapped?

So, I’m a self-proclaimed horror connoisseur. I LOVE horror. I watch a lot of horror movies and I play many horror games. Check out my article on Silent Hill one of the greatest horror games to date! Unfortunately, horror movies and games don’t scare me anymore. I think I have seen so much of it I am just numb to it. I’m someone who seeks the darkest shit on the internet. Hey, I watched Hellraiser when I was four! (Probably not the smartest parental judgment) There is not much I haven’t seen… 

The horror junkie in me always looks for a new game that will scare me, so I jumped at the opportunity to play The Nightmare Inside. Will it be the one to finally break me? Let’s find out!

BEWARE! THERE ARE HEAVY SPOILERS FOR THIS GAME IN THIS REVIEW!

The Nightmare Inside from DE Games tells the story of a man who just lost his daughter in a car accident and is dealing with the pain. You wake from a terrible nightmare and must escape from your torment by solving puzzles while being pursued by something not human.  

According to the steam page, this game contains:

I like the sound of that! Sounds like a recipe for pant shitting. 

In the spirit of giving a fair review for The Nightmare Inside and because I know I am a little numb and judgemental to horror games, I enlisted the help of fellow CouchSoup contributor Erika Aundawyn. Besides my own review written below, I wanted to get her POV on the game.

By her admission, Erika is a scaredy-cat with horror, so I had Erika play The Nightmare Inside, with me, as a wingman, on camera…

Bring it on!! 

We begin with an interesting story…

The game opens to a black screen with text telling the story of how you had finished work and were picking your daughter up from school. You were tired, and your eyes were closing. You hear the sound of a car accident and learn that this was the death of your daughter… I like it! It’s an interesting opening and certainly sets the game’s tone, and I enjoy a tortured soul story. Wait, that sounded disturbing…

You open your eyes to a dark apartment. This is where you will play out your nightmare. 

The atmosphere was okay for me… 

It’s a little dark, but I can understand it is for the atmosphere. The reflections and lighting in the game look good. Realistic and polished. The apartment is very large but feels a little bare. There isn’t much to catch the eye and explore, but the story mentions you have just moved into this house, so that’s understandable. As you explore the apartment, a full-sized artist doll is sitting around. Weird. We will come back to that later.

Around the apartment are a couple of notes to read that describe the struggles our main character is facing while dealing with the loss of his daughter. As the game goes on, the notes get even more desperate, and you can see your character's slow descent into despair. Those are interesting to look through, and I felt you got a good sense that things were getting direr. I like little details like that. 

I realized that all the tension doesn’t really amount to anything…

As you explore further, it becomes evident that this is more than a bad dream. You can’t leave. When you try to leave the apartment, you are back in it, and this is when things start getting weird. I get strong PT Trailer inspiration from this… Noises happen, and eerie music plays. You can hear doors opening around you, and it is clear that you are not alone. You spend a good amount of time walking around, trying to turn on light switches, and finding buttons with nothing happening. After a while, the suspenseful, ambient music just has no impact and isn’t scary anymore. The game starts feeling like you're just experiencing a power cut.

The game has a couple of puzzles to solve. 

You have to search the apartment for keys and a couple of items. I enjoy that! It gives me a reason to explore and become immersed in the environment. The main puzzles, though, are Switch puzzles. Get the lights in the correct order to unlock a door. I don’t like puzzles like this! They are overused in horror games. There isn’t a clever riddle to solve or something deep to think about. You’re just poking buttons until you get the right order or waste time walking around and looking for markings on the walls. They kill the tension in horror games for me and take me out of the immersion. There was also a puzzle involving closing your eyes and listening to voices. You do this by pushing a button in the game which causes the screen to go black. You listen to whispers and ghostly sounds. Listening to them opens doors and allows you to proceed through the nightmare. This was interesting at first but got a little tedious after a while, especially when it wasn’t clear where you were supposed to be doing this. A lot of time was wasted walking around and closing your eyes in random places to try to trigger an event.

Jump scares! Oh, boy! 

These are the meat and bones of all horror games, and I was excited to see what The Nightmare Inside would bring to the table. For me, there weren’t any. Erika, on the other hand, felt differently. Check out that video above if you haven’t already. Do you remember the full-sized artist doll I mentioned earlier? It is alive and is following you around. It pops around the door frame once or twice to peekaboo you. I actually thought it was kinda funny during my playthrough. The dummy doesn’t pose any threat to you or look scary. It’s more like a naked guy just randomly appearing. There is maybe one bit in the game towards the end that I consider a jump scare. I wish there was some more of that throughout!

The game’s last act does kick it up a notch, and I was relieved. There is red lighting now and cryptic words painted on the wall. Follow him. Your character is falling deeper into darkness. There is actual blood on this part which made me happy! Yay, goriness! I like that… There still isn’t a lot to do, though, and you’re still walking around, trying doors, and looking at numbers on a wall. 

I liked the last act! I wish there was more of this in the game, and I wish it had come sooner. The tension was decent! There was real horror imagery, and the dummy actually tried to kill you. I was happy when he eventually punched me in the face. 

Do that more! Try to kill me or just go home already!

The Nightmare Inside is a short game. I completed it in around 30 minutes, but to be honest, even that felt like it dragged a little with a significant amount of time wasted not knowing what to do next.

I could tell the game took inspiration from other games, such as the PT trailer, but it just lacked originality. I was hoping the game was going to push hard on the psychological horror and really hone in on the torment of the character as a game like PT did. The game was okay, I enjoyed myself, but it was exactly how I expected it to be. The Nightmare Inside is very similar to many horror games. The game relied a little too much on creaky doors and walking around in the dark but didn’t have enough actual elements of horror to keep me invested. For such a short game, I feel like they could have put a lot more into ramping up the tension to keep the player on their toes. I never thought that I was in danger or that I needed to be fearful of anything in the game until the last couple of minutes. 

I had more fun watching my friend Erika squirm and squeal than playing it myself!

Again, it could just be me. As I said earlier, horror games don’t scare me, and I am a little judgemental because I love them so much. I just want something deeper and more thought-provoking, I guess. The Nightmare Inside is a one-time play with not much replayability. It is a decent game to try out if you’re looking for something short and spooky.

The final verdict is that my pants are still clean and fresh. If you’re a horror junkie like me, you may find it boring and uneventful. I give it a 4 out of 10 Soups

Erika, on the other hand… well, she did well and truly shit her pants. Her review was that some puzzles were frustrating but she did get scared. She gives The Nightmare Inside a solid 7 out of 10 Soups!

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