Nightmare Reaper Review – The Nightmare Of Your Dreams
Nightmare Reaper is a game that just left early that I proudly label a “DOOMER SHOOTER.” A DOOMER SHOOTER, by my and many others’ definitions, is a shooter game based off the classic ultra-violent FPS DOOM, and yes, the all caps are very necessary here. Nightmare Reaper is such a dedication to the original DOOM format that it even imitates the art style, with every gloriously gory pixel looking straight out of the 1993 release.
I got into this game not expecting a lot of replayability, but it goes on forever. Actually forever, with the Chapter 3 update implementing a New Game + that allows you to restart the game with progressively stronger weapons and enemies over and over again. Even without new game plus, I estimate most players can get about 20-40 hours of game time climbing through the nightmarish worlds, which is a steal for its $25 price tag.
In Nightmare Reaper, you play as the Patient, a woman locked away in a hellish asylum, though each level actually takes place within your own nightmares. The game has 3 chapters, totaling 80+ levels, each one procedurally generated, so it’s a different experience each time. And I do mean each time. When you die and restart the level, the map is procedurally generated again, changing the layout completely. Guns in Nightmare Reaper are also procedurally generated, which can spawn with different effects. You can have a regular shotgun in one level, and then later find that same shotgun but it shoots fireballs. It reminds me sort of the way Borderlands handles weapon spawns, but with less visual change.
Speaking of visuals, I love the visuals. Admittedly, the pixel art style isn’t for everyone. Neither is a cool rainy day, hot coco by the fire, and a basket of kittens. The point is, you can tell me that you don’t like the graphical style of this game, I just won’t respect your opinion.
It’s DOOM. I already pointed out that it looks like DOOM, but it’s important to emphasize how much it looks like DOOM without just being DOOM. Everything about the way the game looks feels like a love letter to their (s)inspiration. It all feels the same, but it manages to look like its own thing too. The game maintains its’ own identity while also being a tribute to a genre-defying franchise.
I can’t talk about a DOOM-inspired game without mentioning the soundtrack. The music in this game sounds like a nightmare, and I mean that in the best way possible. Give it a listen for yourself, the music is by the talented Andrew Hulshult who also worked on Bethesda’s DOOM soundtracks, and it encapsulates the game’s identity perfectly.
Nightmare Reaper can also be classified as a rogue-like, and it expands on certain gameplay features that many people find frustrating in the genre. As I mentioned before, death isn’t a hard restart on your run, but the randomization of the levels manages to keep it feeling punishing. It’s a kick in the pants, as it should be, but not quite a kick in the head, letting you continue to progress in the game without resetting your progress.
This is good, because Nightmare Reaper is a game about story progression. Yes, there is a story amidst all of this hyper-violence and bloodshed, and it’s a good one. Granted, it might be a little too edgy for some people’s tastes, but I’m willing to bet that you’re into a little edginess if you’re here.
The story is gruesome and can be hard to put together. The game rewards exploration and collection, as finding secrets and reading memos left about the world can help you better understand the grim setting you’ve found yourself in. I grew really fond of the protagonist, though I will admit most of it was due to her glaring face at the bottom left corner of the screen as I mowed through hordes of nightmares.
I can honestly count The Patient as one of my new favorite game protagonists, alongside Ratchet from Ratchet and Clank, Doomguy from DOOM, and Krieg from Borderlands. They should start a band.
The Final Word
Nightmare Reaper is an indie gem, the kind of game we don’t see very often, and it would be a shame if more people didn’t get to appreciate it. I know this type of game isn’t for everyone, but I can’t find it in my heart to rate it anywhere lower than a 10. If you don’t usually play games like this and you’re contemplating giving Nightmare Reaper a try, I highly recommend giving it a shot, you might just find yourself a new favorite.
Our Nightmare Reaper review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!