(This game is a review of the current at the time Portuguese version. Slight spoilers may follow.)
Recently games have been announced or released from countries that aren’t normally associated with the gaming industry. Pesadelo, in English translating to nightmare, delivers such an experience while playing it. Don’t get me wrong, the controls, environments, puzzles and game all work well but this is the sort of game that will get you every time with its scares, so perfect are all the elements combined.
The game is available in English and Portuguese, though the Portuguese version has a second stage with a second antagonist, as well as being the current version of the game. The language barrier may halt players gameplay experience but easy to understand visuals and items should be simple to understand. I consider playing the Portuguese version first, as the experience is longer and different making the experience that much more enjoyable.
The premise of the game is simple enough, you’re a character who after a day of hearing horror stories on the worst evils, he enters an abandoned tube station, later an abandoned office space, during the nighttime, There’s no one around, only tense music which makes the player on edge during the entire experience and there’s something lurking in the shadows. The game while never hand holding makes the player figure out certain parts of the game while never truly leaving one in difficulty. Pesadelo isn’t your typical ‘Go find x amount of x’ horror game and while you’ll obviously be searching for and collecting many items, which are all stored and named in your inventory, you’ll use these in ways that interact with the world.
For instance at one point you’ll have to blast open a door using nothing but the tools at your disposal and while the game does zoom into key elements aiding you, there are times when some uses for items or puzzle solving where a bit too vague so don’t expect how to progress written down for you. Pesadelo makes you think, during the worst time possible.
And before I forget let me tell you something important about this game, there are jumpscares. Not a few but a jumpscare galore, with ‘fake appearances’ or repeated appearances even though you’ve just outrun them or they’ve vanished, this game is unmerciful in trying to get you in this way and normally a game like that gets old real fast and though Pesadelo never gave me that feeling, this is because it doesn’t solely rely on this tactic to get a scare out of you.
The audio is tense as you explore the ruins and tube station, indeed when the odd light bulb flickers or door closes the sounds come out. Pesadelo is most terrifying once you spot your pursuer or as is the case most of the time, when they teleport right in front of you or beside you but this event would never make you jump out of your skin if it weren’t for the music which plays once you spot it.
As I said before, the stages are two areas and you’ll spend most of your time running from one to the next as you search for items or return to rooms with items which will allow you to progress. Pesadelo does a great, scratch that, excellent job of making you fear and swear at the game for making these environments so damn scary. Whether it is the tight corners, the darkness or just the feel of the room itself, you’ll be cursing the game’s ability in making the whole world seem like it’s out to get you.
Now as for the antagonists. Pesadelo pits you against one antagonist per area. While it has become all to expected now that these sort of games have that one undefeatable antagonist who hunts you down for no reason, Pesadelo’s creatures feel different. Yes, they still rely on jumpscares which is even more terrifying due to the great job on the character models but these two will chase you down, with the second one being the stuff of inducing madness in her pursuits.
And while the first antagonist is never given any true backstory, Pesadelo excells in giving players a backstory and adding towards the legend of Loira and making it feel authentic and thus even more frightening.
In the end, it is the elements that best make these indie games that have been balanced out and given more depth which allow Pesadelo to stand out from the crowd. Normally, you’re given absolutely no information and dumped into an abandoned (hospital, factory, forest?) with a simple objective and jumpscares. This is a game that makes the player feel that the antagonist isn’t out to get them, simply the stages have always been their domains and you’re unfortunately its next trespasser.
P – Terryfying atmosphere and antagonists, second stage varied and great to play, environments add to the fear, audio, no hand holding but doesn’t leave one wandering about or stuck in difficulty.
C – Portugese language version only up to date, puzzles sometimes too vague or directions, extras?.
Fear – Immersive and very atmospheric, best played with headphones in the dark for a horrifying experience.
Sound – The music keeps you tense throughout the game until the, it will get you just about every time, monsters audio cue leaps in, sound effects used effectively.
Horror – The premise of unescapable nightmare based on legends and the fact that it could be a dream or not work.
World – Creatures design is effective as they’ll terrify you every time, stages are varied adding to the fear,
Pesadelo does what most horror games wish they could; continously terrify the player and once the nightmare has been beaten this is a game that doesn’t hesitate to creep you out playthrough after playthrough with jumpscares galore, immersive gameplay and not your typical indie horror, go find x amount of items to defeat your antagonists. These antagonists are two of the most frightening brought to life onto the horror scene. If you’re a fan of horror gaming, you’d be truly missing out by not trying to survive through the nightmare, or in other words, the Pesadelo.