Based on designer Matt Gilgenbach’s battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, Neverending Nightmares is a psychological horror game that amplifies feelings of unease through repetition in a minimalist setting. Personally, this was the most difficult game for me to finish because of the content. There were several moments when I just had to stop and seriously question whether or not I could feasibly finish the game. I am a little squeamish around blood, which is why I refuse to see most horror movies right now, and Neverending Nightmares artistic style made sure you knew there was blood on screen.
There are said to be three endings to Neverending Nightmares: Wayward Dreamer, Final Descent, and Destroyed Dreamer. I managed to end the game with Final Descent, and that is good enough for me. I am nowhere near ready to go back in. One and done. You see Neverending Nightmares forces you to walk through the same area over and over and over again. Each time you go through a room, there are small changes in the background. With every walk through, players begin to look for an end to the game. Any end really. Especially when you enter the insane asylum.
Entering the asylum is when the pause button became my best friend. Scenes are so gruesome, so disturbing, so bone chillingly terrifying, I just wanted to run through with my eyes closed. But you can’t shut your eyes, and you most definitely cannot run. The slow speed at which the protagonist, Thomas, is forced to walk, is one of the major reasons this is an extraordinarily effective horror game. You are unable to run from enemies. You also run out of breath fairly quickly when you move faster than a casual stroll.
Gilgenbach’s artistic design is comprised of a simple black and white 2D line art, with red to accent the copious amounts of blood. If blood makes you squeamish, then Neverending Nightmares will make you want to play with your eyes close. Of course that doesn’t quite work out, believe me I tried. I would even go so far as to say that the pen and ink feel of Neverending Nightmares, induces fear more successfully than a game based in reality, because Gilgenbach has the freedom to exaggerate scenes without players disconnecting from the action.
Neverending Nightmares is the walking simulator from hell. You are forced to walk slowly through terrifying environments, and you have to go through the same rooms repeatedly, witnessing an innocent room become exceedingly dark. However, misery loves company, so go ahead and give this game a try! It will constantly have you wishing for the nightmare will end.