Nightmare Frames is a game that presents itself as a “supernatural thriller.” It is Postmodern Adventures’ first paid game as well as their most ambitious project yet. The Spanish studio specializes in making games that look and play like old-school point-and-click adventure games.
Nightmare Frames is set in Hollywood in 1985. Players follow the story of Alan Goldberg, a screenwriter writing horror movies despite disliking them. One day he meets Helen Westmore, a woman everybody calls “the sister of mercy” because she can make anyone’s dreams come true thanks to her money and power. But nothing in life is free, and people have to do things for her in exchange for her services.
In Alan’s case, to have everything he desires, he must find a lost movie made by an iconic horror film maker who disappeared years ago. Most of the game is centered around Alan’s quest for this lost film.
The game is split between three main parts, and there are a lot of different characters to talk to. All of the conversations with the characters sound natural, and it is engaging to get to know them better.
Something that can be a downside to some is the pacing of the game, especially because the beginning is slow. Out of the five to six hours of total playtime required to beat the game for the first time, the first hour isn’t at all related to the mystery of the lost movie. Thankfully, the rest of the game has a much better pacing and once the main story picks up, the game becomes very pleasant. The elements of horror are introduced slowly but this isn’t an issue as they are very good and believable in a way. At first, the main character doesn’t believe the supernatural events that are happening around him but after a while he finally accepts them because they aren’t any rational explanations to what he is witnessing.
A lot of effort was put into the world-building. There are references to old pop culture as well as many references to slasher movies of the 70s and the 80s which fit perfectly with the game’s theme and time period.
In conclusion, the story is well written despite the fact that the length of the game is on the shorter side.
Nightmare Frames is, first and foremost, a narrative game, players follow the story as it unravels. Like in most point-and-click adventure games, the gameplay mainly consists of going around places, talking to different NPCs, looking for various objects, and resolving multiple puzzles.
The game really looks and feels like an older point-and-click adventure game but with a modern twist. The developers were very committed since even the game user interface has that old-school vibe. Despite that it is very easy to navigate through the user interface.
Solving puzzles is essential in order to progress in the game, but there isn’t a lot compared to other games of the same genre. The solutions to the puzzles, except for one, are very logical and easy to deduce. It’s a good thing because it means that they don’t interfere with the game’s progression. The story and the puzzles complement each other well.
However, the lack of puzzles also means that the game isn’t very interactive compared to similar games, which might be a letdown for some hardcore fans of the point-and-click adventure genre.
Nightmare Frames’ graphics consists of pixel art. Following the storyline, the visuals become more and more dark and horrific as the game goes on.
The backgrounds all look really good. They are very colorful even during scenes that happen at night, and the way the lights are represented is impressive. This is an example of something that’s definitively modern and that couldn’t have been achieved with older technology.
However, the characters don’t look as good, and some tend to look a bit similar. Thankfully during conversations, images of the characters appear with a much more detailed model of themselves, making it easier to visualize how they look like. Overall, the visuals look good and it is easy to understand what each asset is representing.
Both the soundtrack and the sound effects are great. All of the songs of Nightmare Frames are very memorable, and it’s clear that a lot of work was put into the sound effects. They were thoughtfully picked and edited to help players get immersed in the game. For instance, in one location called “Joe’s Diner” there’s a TV that is turned on with music playing, and the sound really feels like it’s coming from an old TV thanks to the way it was edited.
Nightmare Frames excels at what it is trying to be. It is a great old-school supernatural thriller point-and-click adventure game. But a few downsides, mainly the pacing and the fact that the game isn’t very interactive outside of talking to the characters, unfortunately means that it might not be for everyone.
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