Nightmare Of Decay Review
Survival horror has returned. Resident Evil isn’t a punchline anymore, and there are any number of big and small games for genre fans to sink their teeth into – some of them might even be pretty good. Nightmare of Decay expertly uses this to take us back to a simpler time.
It’s first-person, but don’t read too much into that. This is a love letter to the old Resident Evil games, where you would explore sprawling buildings, fight the undead and solve mysteriously elaborate puzzles. And it does it not just in spirit, but in look too.
Part love letter, part parody, Nightmare of Decay is simple, short and says everything it needs to. You’ll laugh at the absurdity, while secretly remembering all the times you said “My God, how are graphics going to get any better than this?”
After a creepy guy appears in your apartment and instantly disappears, you go to bed, wondering what the hell happened. Seconds later, you wake up outside a mansion. A talking cat tells you you’ll be dead soon. Then things get weird.
While it borrows heavily from Resident Evil – what in this genre didn’t? – it follows the standard survival horror formula. Explore, kill enemies, collect better weapons (which you must conserve ammo for), and collect items which somehow morph into keys when placed in the right slot or order. Bosses will occasionally try and stop your progress, while the small enemies pack more of a punch in groups.
It does all this well. Nightmare of Decay is specifically not rewriting the rulebook. This is a game celebrating what came before.
Surviving Nightmare of Decay
With all the emphasis on recreating the old games, it brings with it problems of yesteryear. Controls can be a little clunky and slow, especially if you use a controller (which isn’t officially supported). Fighting with enemies is as fun as the weapon you’re using, and the more ammo-concious of players may find relying on melee a little bit dull. And, naturally, puzzles are puzzles. You’ll enjoy them or you’ll find them too aware of themselves. It was always this way, and it remains so now. Most of the world-building is done in notes and diary entries. Snazzy, modern cutscenes are thankfully nowhere to be seen, but, again, this will not appeal to everybody.
If this was a 15-hour game, I’d be writing some of those as negatives. Here, they never grow to be a problem. The nostalgia and even the game in its own right shines across all three hours, although the last segment is certainly the least polished. A little smoothing there, both in terms of design and narrative, would take a lot of work for not much benefit, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Also worth mentioning is the price. I bought this on sale over the Christmas period, and it was well worth every penny. It cost less than a cup of coffee. Even today, at full price, it’ll only cost you £3.99.
Nightmare of Decay managed to feel fresh and retro all at the same time. It looks great – the detail in capturing the style is incredible – and plays well enough to be worth three hours.
In the new age of survival horror, it’s nice to have new content exploring where we came from. Nightmare of Decay is more than up to that task.