Nightmare of Decay | Review

Developer: Checkmaty | Publisher: Checkmaty
Nightmare of Decay is an engrossing callback to the classics, but does it cross the line from homage to parody? Between the triumphs and shortcomings of this indie survival horror game, I feel confident in saying that it’s worth a look — here’s why.

The Nightmare’s Thrills

The game has a strong character that blends nostalgia (in the form of Resident Evil and Silent Hill references) with a fresh experience. Like in Resident Evil 1, your first zombie encounter involves the monster turning and looking right at you. In one classically-terrifying encounter, you see the ghost of a decapitated lady staring back at you in a mirror positioned across from her headless corpse. Moments like these consistently keep you on edge without feeling cheap, and you’ll stumble across these kinds of encounters all throughout the game.

 lady staring back at you in a mirror across from the body.

Part of what helps reinforce this haunting mood is the genre. Being a survival horror game, you have to know when to run and when to fight. Your weak-but-reliable survival knife is a fine starting weapon, but it won’t carry you the whole time. Once you get a firearm, you’ll want to fight the temptation to go guns-blazing and conserve bullets.

There are a few ways to replenish ammo and resources. You can breaking barrels or vases, kill armed enemy cultists, or even try your hand at a beginning pellet gun game, which rewards you with supplies and items if you get a high score. Again following in the footsteps of Resident Evil and Silent Hill, there are puzzles and exploration challenges, too.

As with any survival horror, exploration is daunting but crucial. The map in Nightmare of Decay is pragmatically labelled so you can easily keep tabs of what puzzle components need to go where, but not so insultingly blatant that it takes the excitement out of it. For some, this will be a welcome departure from older survival horror entries, making navigation and exploration a little less painful. That’s not to say that this game is without painful aspects…

Where it Decays

The game is very brief. If you go all-out and carefully use your resources, you’ll have it beat in a few short hours. While this is a little disappointing, the game keeps pace well and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Just when it feels like its getting a little too rough and you can’t go much further, the final boss comes along and you wrap it up. However, if you aren’t very careful about resource management, there are sections that are really brutal, even if you’re landing headshots when you need to be.

My other major criticism is that the game sometimes falters on the line between inspiration and imitation. When the references begin to pile on top of one another, it feels like the game is falling victim to a lack of originality in spite of what makes it original. That doesn’t mean it has nothing new to offer.

Waking Up from the Nightmare

Overall, Nightmare of Decay is fun and engaging. To add to the appeal, the game will cost you $4.99, which feels more than fair. After completion, you’ll unlock at two new modes. One is a dungeon mode, having you earn cash to buy weapons as you fight your way out (Mercenaries mode style from Resident Evil) while the other is a Horde Mode.

From the retro art and experience to the effective mood and well-established gameplay style, I recommend this game for its current price. If you’re a fan of old-fashion survival horrors then I strongly recommend you give it a go. Though it sometimes loses itself in the dogma of its predecessors, Nightmare of Decay comes through with a familiar yet more-than-often fresh experience, all for a reasonable price.

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