Neverending Nightmares

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Neverending Nightmares Game Poster Image
Moody, generic horror game loses its own message.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Claims to be about mental health issues, but how it deals, explores them is too muddy to discern, interpret, much less judge positively or negatively. Players won't be able to understand, even recognize messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players never really learn what's going on with main character, which is part of the fun of a suspenseful game. But there's something to be said for being resilient, enduring trying, terrifying situations.  

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn, but getting lost, not understanding what makes things in world shift to open up different passageways will frustrate many.

Violence

There's suicide, tearing vein out of your own arm, jump scares resulting in your character's death. Although it's cartoony, it's meant to be disturbing. Not appropriate for small children.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Neverending Nightmares is a downloadable horror adventure title. The game has plenty of jump scares, deals with suicide, and has other moments that are visibly disturbing. All you can do is wander around, hide, and observe, in a game that's "inspired by the creator's struggles with depression and OCD. The defenseless protagonist must avoid monstrous manifestations of what haunts his subconscious in his quest to wake up into reality."

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What's it about?

True to its title, NEVERENDING NIGHTMARES is about Thomas, a man in the late 1800s who wakes up from one nightmare and finds himself in another after being killed in any number of ways. The nightmares continue to get worse as you "survive" longer, and based on your actions, you understand the nature of your relationship with a woman named Gabby -- who's either your sister, your wife, or your daughter. There are a lot of serious topics the game attempts to address, including depression, self-harm, and OCD.

Is it any good?

There isn't a whole lot really happening in this horror adventure, even with its jump scares and its gory imagery, but that isn't necessarily a knock against it. As it is, Neverending Nightmares is an unintentionally generic horror game where you try to survive the onslaught of slowly foreboding and approaching monsters (like a giant baby, a doll dragging a huge blade, and so on), and the only way you proceed is by patiently creeping around and avoiding detection. It's unfair to count this as a bad game, because there might be others like it that excel at doing the same types of things, but it's easier to scrutinize it because it claims to be about mental health issues. That's harder to discern, since the expression of those issues, such as OCD and depression, really don't bubble up in the gameplay in any noticeable way.

For the handful of hours the story lasts, you skulk in your pajamas. After surprises such as finding a knife and stabbing yourself or suddenly pulling a vein out of your arm, you wake up in another bed in another room. Sequences like these -- and anytime you get killed by a monster -- serve as a "continue spot," or a place where you resume and can try again. Neverending Nightmares isn't brutally hard -- it's intended to be repetitive and succeeds at that, though it takes advantage of things you can only do in games; it occasionally confuses you by making some doorways in halls lead to someplace new. You're meant to think, you're meant to feel lost, and you're meant to be defenseless. The point is to wander, see what's around, and avoid the darkness. But sooner or later, the darkness claims you no matter what you do, which hints that there might have been bigger, bolder things that could have been done here. As it is, Neverending Nightmares is a run-of-the-mill cheesy horror game with jump scares but with nothing all that profoundly different to say or do.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games such as Neverending Nightmares. Is the violence in this game OK because it's shown in an animated style? Is it unacceptable because the content that's shown is so extreme and, in some cases, worse than that in more realistic games?

  • This game is noticeably influenced by the art of Edward Gorey. Why would someone imitate another existing artist instead of creating something that looks like the art in most other games? 

  • If someone makes a piece of art that's meant to deal with mental health issues, what kinds of responsibilities does that person have, and why?

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