Doors locked, lights off, then rush upstairs towards your bedroom of safety in fear that some creature of the night is going to rush up the stairs after you, primed and ready to slit your throat. Let the Night Terrors begin.
It’s a normal thing for people to be afraid of the dark. You can’t see anything, you need a light source that will light up a select area, and innocent objects take on a different form due to the way your brain is perceiving the light and the shadows. Let’s get even more supernatural. Ghosts are often reported to be flying orbs, or a semi transparent human figure, or totally invisible with the power to move objects. There’s lots of different lore about various haunting’s, it’s actually rather interesting to read up on.
Night Terrors by Novum Analytics is a horror game that is set to send shivers down your spine and make you wide eye’d and shaky from jump scares littered throughout, and it’s not set within some fictional world or location, nor do you control a protagonist through a haunted house. Instead you are the protagonist, and the location is quite literally, your house.
You’ve no doubt heard of Augmented Reality. Perhaps it was Nintendo’s 3DS AR Cards that introduced you, perhaps it was Niantic and their Pokemon GO app? Perhaps it was even earlier systems? It’s obvious that AR is an interesting system for gaming, and with, for example, Pokemon GO, it makes the experience more immersive, even though the only AR element is during catching Pokemon, and that just makes it feel like you’re catching a real Pokemon before being thrown back to the world map. Night Terrors literally uses your world to create an immersive experience.
After a few screens of highly important warnings, the game begins. Those who pay attention will notice that the game will have already taken control of your phone and turned up the screen brightness and whacked the volume high. Suddenly the screen goes black, then your phones flashlight turns on, the rear camera begins showing a feed that features a VCR style timecode in the bottom left, and as you look around the room with your camera, interference will start to flicker across the video slightly, particles float through the scene.
Due to the game being so short I’m not going to list everything that happens, but jump scares do appear in the standard flash in with a loud sound to aid the scare. As you progress there’s a really cool and volatile orb that grows increasingly violent within the walls of your actual, real-life home. The game also takes control of your phones flashlight, making it flicker away, turn off, and the like. It’s wonderfully immersive. The ending lands on the logo for the game and through a push notification, you’re told that it’s the end of the free game, indicating that a possible paid version could be on the horizon. After all, the game is called, Night Terrors: The Beginning so there’s a very good chance that a second instalment is on the way.
The game works best if you’re alone, and have headphones/earphones. The alone feeling allows you to really immerse yourself into the screen without worrying about looking at the other person(s) in the room distracting you, taking you away from the alternate reality. The headphones help to solidify the audio obviously, pushing those creepy knocking, alarms, and scratching right into your eardrum. Night Terrors: The Beginning makes you feel like your house has become overrun with the supernatural and leaves you with a pounding heart and a surge of adrenaline. I will say, a wonderful trick to playing the game and becoming incredibly immersed is to actually pretend that the camera is your head. What I mean by that is, bring your hand into shot, film yourself opening a door, grasping onto the corner of a wall, look down to your feet to check you’re not tripping over anything. It really makes you feel like you’re experiencing something.
While it’s really cool that the game uses GPS and the gyroscope within the phone to follow what you’re doing, you don’t really get to feel like you’re having events occur because you went into a certain room, instead, after a second playthrough you notice that the events that happen are scripted and set to the timecode in the bottom left. Personally, this ruined the second experience, perhaps events that are procedural would have worked more to keep up the suspense.
There’s also the issue with the game being so short, it comes across like it’s just a teaser for a bigger project, a demo if you will, it doesn’t feel like the prologue to a series, and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to continue as it doesn’t really tell a story either, it just feels like random events with the goal to make you piss the bed later on at 3am; but for a free title, this was an incredibly haunting experience and shows horror coming to life.
I hope the developer is planning on improving the game by making it longer, or even releasing a longer experience and adds some depth to a storyless experience.