Despite being a little rough around the edges, there was something that really intrigued me about Nightmare Adventures: The Witch’s Prison. After playing through the demo, I decided that I’d risk a purchase to see where it would go.
I’d have to say the thing I liked best about Witch’s Prison is that it’s not your standard Haunted Asylum game. The story goes in an unexpected direction early on and keeps you guessing all the way up to the cliffhanger ending. The story ends with quite a few questions unanswered, which I assume would be addressed in a sequel, so here’s to hoping we get one.
The gameplay is your typical adventure fare tasking you to find items, solve puzzles, and uncover the story through random notes and books, but without any hidden object scenes to work through. The complexity of the puzzles vary from pretty easy (I ended up accidentally solving a few by randomly clicking on things while trying to figure out the method) to challenging, but most seemed on the easier side once I put a bit of my mind to it, although the puzzle difficulty ramps up a bit towards the end. I think my favorite aspect of the game were the riddle clues; they weren’t incredibly hard to figure out, but fun to work through nonetheless. I also loved the fact that the puzzles were not explained to you and you had to figure out how they worked. Without a difficulty setting, this helped stretch the gameplay out a bit for me, especially since I refuse to use the Hint and Skip buttons unless I’m completely stuck.
Speaking of difficulty, there is one challenge level to the game, and as such, no sparkles or any visual indicators for areas of interest outside of mousing over items. This may be frustrating for the more casual player who prefers easier game settings, but the Hint button refills quickly and gives detailed clues that won’t leave you guessing, and of course there’s a Skip button for all of the puzzles.
As for the graphics, they aren’t groundbreaking by any means nor did they detract from or hurt the gameplay at all. Nothing really stood out to me in either a good or bad way, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I liked the more stylistic and cartoon-ish cut scene images, however, which I think worked well with the story and characters (this isn’t meant to be incredibly dark and scary, at least I didn’t think so).
One thing that really stood out to me was the flavor text on just about every item in a room/area. Many items even offer additional comments and descriptions if you click on them more than once. This added a lot of detail to the game environment as well as quite a bit of humor to Kiera’s character. I wish more games would put in the effort to add flavor text as it was a real treat here.
The game is not without its flaws, however. There is very little music played outside of the cut scenes, which isn’t a horrible thing if the background sounds fit in well and help build atmosphere, but even ambient noises and sound effects are completely missing from some areas. I found myself checking my speakers and sound volume a few times because there just wasn’t any noise at all coming out of the game in some rooms. The “item find” jingle seemed out of place for this type of game and was quite annoying, but I got used to it as I played. I wasn’t particularly fond of the UI either, as I felt having to actively click on the X buttons to leave the Journal/Clues boxes a bit tedious and sometimes frustrating when I would try clicking outside of them to close them out, but to no avail. And, again, a few of the puzzles were just too easy to figure out, some only requiring 3 or 4 steps to solve which removed any sense of accomplishment of having worked through them.
That said, I still really enjoyed Nightmare Adventures: The Witch’s Prison and feel it’s worth picking up especially if you catch it on sale. I can’t say it’s the most polished adventure game I’ve ever played, but it does enough things right that I was able to overlook its flaws and appreciate the game for the entertaining, and often amusing, journey that it is.
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Time Played: 5-10 hours