In Nightmare review: Childhood fears come alive

Maximum Games
Maximum Games /

Title: In Nightmare
Developer: Beijing Magic Fish Technology Co
Publisher: Maximum Games
Platforms: PS4, PS5 (Reviewed on)
Release Date: March 29th, 2022

Ever since the release of the game Little Nightmares way back in 2017, games with tiny children in scary situations have been all the rage. There’s nothing that digs into your childhood fears like running away from monsters in the dark and trying to solve puzzles along the way. It’s a similar panicky feeling of using tank controls. If you’re a fan of the genre, never fear, another game is here. We’re talking about In Nightmare.

In Nightmare follows a wee boy who has shut his heart and mind off to painful reality. Being awake is just sometimes too hard, so he sinks into his dreams in a deep sleep. As he is in his dreamworld, he works through his family’s separation as the monsters of his memories become the monsters of his reality. He must purify his mind to eliminate the monsters and finally come to terms with his past and his truth. He does all this with the help of his little flying spirit friend to guide the way.

In Nightmare most definitely takes inspiration from the Little Nightmare games in theme and atmosphere. This story-driven puzzle game plops the player overhead as the young boy makes his way through the halls and passages of his mind. After the tutorial mission, the player will find themself in a centralized location in the mind where doors will open to new memories. The more memories are unlocked and cleansed, the more the world solidifies, almost becoming real.

The varying worlds that unfold in the boy’s mind are stunning. Colors, even in the darkest and most sinister environments, are bold and brilliant. The lighting varies from stark sharpness to a dreamy haze that clouds the space ahead of the player. The boy will traverse dark wooden halls of a mansion, a dark and damp boiler room, a bright and sterile hospital room and a glossy crystal cave. The textures of the environments are spot on, especially in the crystal environment. The light shining off the crystalline walls just blew me away. To play on the mind of a child, there are child-like images placed here and there of toys and decorations.

In Nightmare
Maximum Games /

On the other side of the coin, the monster animation leaves a lot to be desired but only in terms of the larger monsters. Smaller baddies that meander the halls, laughing and threatening are truly terrifying. As the boy hides in a closet, his pulse racing faster the closer the monster gets, the player really feels that anxiety. However, the animations for the larger monsters are so jerky, it almost feels like claymation. While claymation is terrifying in its own way, it just doesn’t fit with a game that until that point is so crisp and clean.

The gameplay mechanics are daily simple with the whole goal being hide and figure out the puzzle to move forward. It can get a bit repetitive with the idea of finding a key, finding a memory, carrying this here, breaking this down there. It’s not difficult by any stretch of the imagination but all that must be done while trying to avoid the monsters. That is where the anxiety and sometimes the frustrations lie.

When all is said and done, In Nightmare is worth the around six hours average it takes to beat it. It’s a small indie game that has taken great care in the creation of its world and the quality shows in stunning clarity. It’s beautiful to look at and fun to play. It can be frustrating at times, but all good games can be.

In Nightmare (PS5) Score: 8/10

In Nightmare is a beautiful landscape touching on the process of working through trauma and bad memories. With stunning visuals and incessant monsters, you’ll feel like a child again.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.