INT – HOLLYWOOD, 1985 – DAY. Alan Goldberg, revered horror screenwriter of The Lunatic wants out. He wants to piggyback off the success of a drama he once wrote and get out of the genre he despises, irrespective of his growing fanbase. Welcome to Nightmare Frames.
A point and click adventure, which is (yes, I’m going for it) a love letter to the 80s, it’s also a film fan’s dream, not a nightmare, though the themes are unsettling! As a budding screenwriter myself (pfft!), also working on a horror (double pfft!), the premise resonated like a machete to campers.
At the start of Nightmare Frames, Alan is on his way to meet up with a top producer, only to find that he’s committed suicide and any hope of getting his big genre-breaking – err… break, is flushed down the pan. Following up on a lead, as the suicide seems suspicious, Alan gets himself wrapped up in something which may as well be a pitch for his latest horror.
This game from Postmodern Adventures often showed up during the Steam Next Fests, but I never got time to play it, but I added it to the wishlist nonetheless. After a brief hiatus from reviewing games, I snapped this up and regretted not playing it sooner. From the movie trivia to the general ambience, the cynical protagonist, to the brilliant theme music, it was a fantastic experience throughout.
With Stranger Things trending at the time of writing, Nightmare Frames couldn’t be more relevant to those with an immediate 80s horror thirst. Though the characters in the game are fictional (one would hope!), there are plenty of references to filmmakers and their respective titles, including a bonus arcade quiz on horror cinema and music, naturally, the 80s. Alan is an atheist who only believes in Billy Wilder. I love this guy.
It took around eight comfortable hours of gameplay to unlock everything, touch, feel, sniff and live each scene. Except for one spot of brain fog during the meaty act two, Nightmare Frames is a relatively easy point and click with minimal challenge. The hook is the story, witty dialogue and pretty damn good visuals. The closest comparison would be Chronicle of Innsmouth Mountains of Madness. Comparable gore, too.
Without any spoilers, the story plays out like an 80s flick and follows the conventional film format of three acts. The first is relatively pedestrian; 80s Hollywood – yuppies, cocaine and short-sleeved suits, followed by a field trip to Nowheresville, a.k.a. off the beaten track, showcasing some disappearances, the occult, and hints of ‘what is real, and what is potentially Scooby Doo?’. By act three, you can forget all about what happened before – this shit’s messed up.
As mentioned, there’s plenty of content for film fans, and an elusive film you’re sent to locate reminded me of Brand New Cherry Flavour fused with the classic 80s video nasties. Anyone from that era will remember watching dodgy VHS’ in a mate’s caravan while skipping school; low-budget but memorable stories evoked fear, intrigue and occasional disgust. Reminiscing on behalf of a good-looking friend that looks like me and has the same name but isn’t me. I never played truant… Basically, this is nostalgia through and through.
Without a doubt, Nightmare Frames is one of the best point and click adventures I’ve played in the last couple of years, having played a large volume, and I wholeheartedly recommend you seek this out. I couldn’t possibly comment about replayability just yet – I’ve literally just finished it but unlocked 100% achievements in one go with ease. Most of those achievements come from interacting with everything, and considering how bloody alluring this is, it’s hard not to get 100%. Highly recommended.