It’s rare to get the opportunity to play an oddball title such as Nightmare Boy in an age where games are found in abundance within the digital realm. Each new digital title game usually tries to include some new way to go about playing it, in order to stand out in the crowd. Nightmare Boy attempts to do so by making itself look as bizarre as possible, but will this make it worth the time spent playing it?
Nightmare Boy tells the story of a boy who apparently has a striking resemblance to an important character from another world. Because of it not only is he transformed into a monster and transported there, but he also finds out that he must rescue other children like him before he eventually gets to go back to his own world.
Fans of old school side scrolling platform games will no doubt feel right at home playing this one. Unfortunately, whilst Nightmare Boy does a decent job of emulating the likes of Castlevania and Metroid, it never quite manages to always do it with success. Instead, its baffling level design will often leave players feeling aimless whilst trying to navigate its many narrow passages.
One of the main problems is having to backtrack through these narrow passages to go back to the main area to follow a new path to the next objective. Just about every area of the game is full of enemies and they just appear again when coming back from a different area that the game has loaded. At least the game keeps some progress by using the few save points scattered throughout the world. For example, defeating a boss and dying before reaching the closest save point will not result in having to defeat it again.
What doesn’t work with the save system is how it asks players to cough up a certain amount of in-game currency and this fee goes up by at least 20 coins each time it is used. It would also have made sense to include a teleport ability in each save point to avoid making players backtrack.
As with most platform games, it’s possible to gain new abilities and most are used to make it possible to explore new areas. Frustratingly enough, these abilities are not reliable enough and have a tendency to make playing the game harder than it already is. Playing through the title is difficult enough as it is (even on easy difficult) and not being able to always make efficient use of every ability doesn’t help this.
At least Nightmare Boy’s twisted sense of humour makes for some amusing moments. There are some creatures that players will no doubt attack when first starting to play the game. However, they will be told off at some point for killing what are innocent beings that just happen to be in the way. The twist here is that these creatures have a tendency to hang out near enemies or items that need to be destroyed. So it makes it very difficult to not accidentally kill them and perhaps end up feeling guilty about it.
Its crass dialogue is also reminiscent of oddball titles from the 90’s such as Three Dirty Dwarfs. The stylish visuals wouldn’t look out of place in a retro platform title. Even if the character designs could do with some improvements.
The boss fights in Nightmare Boy are easily one of the best aspects of playing the game. Each one of them feels completely unique and requires a whole new approach to defeating it. Fighting each of these giant enemies almost makes it worth the pain of navigating the many narrow corridors and areas that lead to it.
Whilst it provides some amusing ideas, there is no doubt that Nightmare Boy fails to provide players with more than an average experience at best. There are a few highlights to be found, but they don’t always make it worth putting up with the many shortcomings.