Switch version tested
Review code provided
Nightmare Boy showed a lot of promise when the trailer first dropped for its Nintendo Switch debut. At first glance, and having never played it on any other console, it looked like a fun, colourful and unique platformer that was right up my street. Seeing as this was the kind of game I always enjoyed playing, no matter how old I got, it was never in question as to whether I’d throw my hat into the ring to review it. This was my first mistake.
I found my patience running thin within seconds after sitting through one of the longest opening sequences I’ve ever experienced in my 30 plus years as a gamer. A poorly animated, drably scripted mess played out on my screen for what felt like 3 days before anything actually happened. It was clear that if the plot of the game couldn’t be explained in a simple but effective cut scene, then there was probably no hope for the rest of the game. I was right.
It turns out that you play as a young boy who is transformed from his human self into some weird green creature by a bizarre wizard who has apparently been disguising himself as your pillow ever since your mum did the last load of washing. Before you can find out much else you’re entering the game world, only to find yet another prolonged dialogue that was almost enough to make me turn the game off completely.
Such a horrible start to proceedings probably didn’t help my mood as I progressed through Nightmare Boy, finding fault with everything from the mechanics, the outdated save system and the crappy combat sequences which allow you to take far too much damage even when you’re not close enough to a foe for them to make contact.
Much of the dialogue has also clearly been lost in translation, with English not being the first language of the team. Better care should have been taken by the powers that be to ensure the game was anglicised before it was released on the US and UK market.
The saving grace for The Vanir Project is that just how ambitious a project this was, and perhaps they just didn’t have the wherewithal to execute their design. There’s no denying that The Vanir Project have great ideas, and this is why the game still maintains a middle-of-the-road score, they just need to be better at filtering out the bad ones at the same time because too many titles like Nightmare Boy and they’ll become a developer to avoid for all Switch gamers, and nobody wants to see that happen.
Fun but flawed, Nightmare Boy is a Metroidvania game that tries really hard to be great, but only really succeeds at being frustrating.
Beard Score: 4/10
Nintendo Switch Essentials:
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 16/01/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Platformer, Arcade
Download link: eShop