Good designs endure. So it is with the text adventure.. First developed in an era when the most advanced computer game graphics were crude at best, these games rely on prose alone to set the scene, allowing the unparalleled graphics engine that is the human mind to fill in the blanks. The first games were little more than textual mazes to navigate, with danger at every turn. Too much, in fact, with sudden, unexplained deaths the regular bane of the genre: as time went by, fewer designers subjected their players to such trials, but the shadow of sudden death has never completely left the genre.
As time drew on, however, the games grew more sophisticated, and more varied. Moving beyond simple wanderings through dangerous dungeons, the games started to take on more literary trappings. Some quite literally: perhaps the most fondly-remembered adaptation being 1982’s The Hobbit. The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy also received an infamously difficult conversion to the small screen, helped along by series creator Douglas Adams. But the most interesting titles were those with their own stories to tell; from dungeon crawlers like Zork, to complex, philosophical works like A Mind Forever Voyaging.
As computers grew more powerful, and games started to look better and better, the genre began to die out as a commercial enterprise. However, the allure of the genre remains: few are the genres that allow a single person to create an entire game, filled with their own writing, and limited only by their imagination. So it is that interactive fiction, as it is now known, has remained a major independent genre, with some wonderful results – such as Emily Short’s experimental , non-linear masterpiece Galatea, or Adam Cadre’s moving, barely-interactive Photopia.
All things considered, it should come as no surprise that the genre be represented on Windows Phone. The Forgotten Nightmare styles itself as a mystery, a popular subject in interactive fiction. The story opens with the player character about to discover… something, only to be involved in a car accident. The game starts with the player waking up, suffering from memory loss, and finding themselves on a poorly-maintained road near an eerily-empty hamlet. Your objective: explore your surroundings, recover your memory, and work out exactly what is going on.
The game plays a straight game of interactive fiction: solve inventory- and environment-based puzzles in order to navigate the environment, while the story plays out around your actions. The setting is suitably creepy and mysterious, the puzzles pleasingly logical, and there is, happily, a dearth of sudden-death situations.
The prose can be a little clunky at times, and wants for a little copy editing, featuring as it does sentences in dire need of punctuation, and a few cases of its/it’s confusion. These would be minor issues in any other genre, but interactive fiction lives and dies on its writing, so these sorts of errors stand out. The plot is also fairly generic – amnesia as an opening gambit is a particularly overused device, and there’s nothing hugely inspiring to find here. And, finally, the dry prose can make scouring areas a little too dull – the game commits the heinous crime of featuring numerous incidental objects to look at which feature only the barest descriptions.
But for all that, this is a satisfying little game to play. This sort of straight-forward text adventure, with a mysterious plot to unravel via simple puzzles and item hunting, is perfect for mobile gaming. The interface could do with a little work, but the ability to bring up a list of all usable verbs and nouns in an area is an absolute godsend, and gets around the significant problem of having to work out what verbs the game will recognise. This isn’t the greatest example of interactive fiction around, but if you want a mystery to solve in your spare time you could do a lot worse. Oh, and it’s completely free.
The Forgotten Nightmare Gameplay Video
The Forgotten Nightmare Screenshots
Version Under Review : 126.96.36.199
Website : theforgottennightmare ( they have a support forum )
The Forgotten Nightmare is a FREE game for Windows Phone 7
Developers Note : The second chapter of the story is currently being worked on. There is an Easter Egg in the game, if you want to cheat click on [spoiler]There is a hidden area of the game I put in just for fun. Go to where the solar charger is and ‘enter boat’.[/spoiler]
Our Rating for The Forgotten Nightmare