Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Nightmare Reaper

What if Doom Guy was a Doom Gal? And what if, as should be expected, the insane violence running through Doom Guy’s head was enough to have him institutionalized? These are the questions that Nightmare Reaper dares to ask. An unnamed woman is locked up in an asylum for an unknown reason. What’s more, she is also locked in a prison of the mind, and when she falls asleep she must fight through an impossible amount of ghouls, goblins, demons, and more. A terrifying situation. Thankfully, the asylum let her keep a GameBoy SP. 

Conceptual Meta-Wank:

Sometimes a developer might want to add an aspect to their game that doesn’t quite fit. Jumping puzzles to a spooky walking simulator, or a hunger meter to a platformer game. I can certainly relate to wanting all this cool stuff in a game, but the game being unable to handle it. How can one square this circle? Nightmare Reaper shows that the simplest answer is best: just add another game. 

Nightmare Reaper is a DOOM game. But through the magic of dreams and also having a GameBoy, there are several layers to this title. You’re in a spooky asylum until you fall asleep. Then you’re in the nightmare realm ripping and tearing to your heart’s delight. Once you die or finish the level, you return to the asylum to find things are a little different. And when it’s time to level up, you open up the GameBoy and play some Pokemon or Super Mario to get the perks. Not exaggerating. This genius move allows Nightmare Reaper to be action FPS, walking simulator horror, and have some retro minigames without them ever overlapping. 

Non-Wanky Game Recap:

Other than playing like a very complex DOOM mod, Nightmare Reaper adds a bit of its own flair. Enemies will drop weapons occasionally, which often have randomly generated effects. This can be anything from faster (or slower) reload, ice damage, or your bullet turning into a ten-foot-tall stone boulder on impact. At the end of the level, you may keep one of your weapons, and the rest are sold off, and the cycle begins anew. 

What Works:

What I love best about Nightmare Reaper is that it is a retro FPS game broken up by sequences of mystery horror. What little you discern from the notes left in your asylum room are made up for by strange runes and other clues that appear on the walls in your sleepy absence. Sometimes you’ll return to the waking world and the lights will be off and you’ll hear a scream. Eventually, the door will be left unlocked. This slow burn of horror divided up by insane action-packed violence makes for some very effective pacing. 

What Doesn’t:

Nightmare Reaper is an incredibly complex DOOM mod. Which means that sometimes the technology outpaces the style. For instance, enemies drop coins and ammo and sometimes weapons. When you’re fighting a group of enemies, it’s not too uncommon for the ground to be so thoroughly covered in rotating 2D sprites of all kinds that I literally can’t tell what it is I’m picking up. So too can I hardly tell what a new enemy is up to, simply because it is a busy game with a lot happening on screen. But these are hardly game-breaking issues.

How To Fix It:

Too much loot and too interesting of enemies is the opposite of a problem. But if Nightmare Reaper wanted to, they could streamline the former issue a bit. There are a number of non-coin treasures that appear. Coins could coalesce into bigger and better treasure as the pile on the floor gets larger. A bestiary for the latter issue would be interesting, but perhaps too much details could break the mystery of the game. Either way, these are two entirely miniscule problems, and there’s a reason Nightmare Reaper is overwhelmingly positive on Steam. 

Wanky Musings:

I like DOOM. I like looting and shooting and roguelite FPS games. Nightmare Reaper hits all the right buttons for me. And to top it off, they added some pretty effective horror sequences into the game without entirely changing the genre, which I found to be pretty brilliant. I love a game that isn’t afraid to tack something on, so long as that thing doesn’t detract from the main gameplay. In this situation, the minigames are the blood and gore covered icing on the cake. 

You can buy Nightmare Reaper on Steam by clicking here