I love indie horror games and this one is no exception. Enjoy my take on the source engine mod, Nightmare House!
“No one escapes Nightmare House”
(NOTE: Review contains spoilers. Also, you will require Half-Life 2 Episode 2 to play this.)
Nightmare House is a two part free HL2 mod originally released in 2005 and remade with a new story in 2010. Those familiar with Half-Life and Garry’s Mod will get adjusted to this game in no time at all. The basic premise of the game is that you’re a wandering hapless person being pursued by a pale ghostly woman akin to J-Horror. Along the way monsters and zombie attack you. At the end of the first part, the ghost woman catches up to you and you black out. The meaning behind this is explained in Nightmare House part 2. The plot is somewhat predictable, with a few nice twists.
The prologue story starts out with you as a hapless civilian with your car broken down by a creepy house, the standard horror trope. The prologue level is your typical romp through a run down haunted house, with brilliant and chilling atmosphere. After trying to escape from the horrors that be, you wake up in an abandoned hospital. And luck you, you’re stuck in the mental health wing. One of the things that makes this intro so terrifying is it’s mostly ambiance and the first enemy that attacks you doesn’t appear till you least expect it (or if you’ve seen enough horror, you can call the jump scare a mile away). Not too long after, you encounter the one living person in this complex, Doctor Romero. Without him, you’d probably get stuck wandering forever. So, with the help of Romero, you make your way through monster infested corridors with plenty of tricks and traps.
Of course, it’s never that simple. The horrific ghost woman from the first game continuously returns to terrorize and make things weird… And man, is this game weird! The story takes a turn once military persons show up. They inform you that Romero is the cause of this madness, unleashing monsters throughout the hospital. But, this twist shouldn’t really come as a surprise. So, after Romero and his horrors pick off these poor red shirts one by one, it’s up to you to face off against Romero… with an awesome twist I won’t give away!
Gameplay wise, I don’t have too much to say. The GMod engine is almost always a great system to utilize for a wide variety of games. Naturally, it’s become a popular source for some great games due to great options for building, posing, and playtesting. And after some tutorials and tons of practice, it’s a great tool for indie game. The atmosphere in the earlier portion of the game gives way to a more action oriented ending, brought upon by the arrival of government agents and a boss battle like end segment.
The scares in the game are one of the best things about this game. Not once do the scares get dull or predictable, with tons of twists and jumps that will easily catch one off guard. Each turn, twist, and hallway contains a plentiful amount of frights in each chapter. This is especially prevalent with encounters with the ghostly woman.
One of the things that’s great about this game is the soundtrack. The music for this game, composed by , is an addictive mix of crunchy electronic music a la Nine Inch Nails with some horror movie ambiance. Tracks that stick out the most to me are the title theme which starts with a chilling series of chords leading into an intense synth driven beat with bells in background.
Is the game that scary? Probably not. Despite limited ammo, any careful aim will allow you to plow through forces, not to mention the enemies become a little more predictable after a while.
Overall, this game is EXCELLENT for a mod and most definitely worth downloading. All you need is HL2 Ep. 2 to play, and it’s pretty cheap on Steam. So, if you have the chance, check Nightmare House 2 out!