Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart is originally released in 2012 and then came out on Steam in 2014 and now in 2016 is available on PS4 and Xbox One. The game starts with an exciting cutscene that shows some interesting characters and unique art style, but after that the game begins in a fairly ordinary museum in the
Caribbean. The museum is full of pirate treasures and remnants of Captain Remington. The game starts slowly but soon gathers pace and some exciting plot developments begin to unfold. Its hard to describe what type of game it is, but what I would say is that it focuses heavily on puzzle solving and finding hidden objects and items in order to progress.
You play as the owner of the museum and whilst preparing some exhibition pieces you accidentally bring the notorious Captain Remington back to life, who then goes on to capture your daughter. From there you must track him down and save your daughter. Like I said, the game is about finding objects which can get tricky at times but there is a handy hint system you can use if you wish to do so. The hint system makes the game a little too easy because it literally walks you through the game, so if you can manage without it I would recommend you do so. You shouldn’t need to use it as the puzzles never feel taxing and I rarely found myself feeling stuck, which is good because with some puzzle games being stuck for ages can take me out of the game and ruin the experience.
The game plays out like a visual novel or animated comic book, with a series of beautifully crafted static scenes, where you can look around, in a similar sort of way to some of the Telltale games. The cutscenes also look great and act as a nice change of pace between puzzles and dialogue. During each scene you guide a white circle about the screen, highlighting various objects and elements that can be interacted with. Some objects don’t give any progression but do give more depth and backstory to the world, whilst other items allow you to work on puzzles or progress the narrative. The mechanic works well and differs to Telltale games because this takes place from a first person viewpoint.
The game has two different difficulties to choose from and the easier mode is the one that allows the hint system to be used with the harder mode leaving you to your own devices. I tried playing through on the harder mode and for the most part I did ok. The game isn’t hugely long and its difficult to put a timeframe on it because people will solve puzzle sin different times.
The presentation of the game is probably its best feature, with an amazing amount of atmosphere and personality shining through considering you’re just looking at static scenery. Animations and characters can look a little off, with blurry fades and awkward movement. The cutscenes also look great and I loved the vibrant colours and playful design. Unfortunately, the characters and voice acting isn’t great, with a mix of dull characters and over the top moments of dialogue that end up falling flat.
After you have completed the main game, there is another segment which sees you trying to escape Skull Island. This again is short but does add a bit more length to the overall experience and helps add a bit more to the world and characters. The game doesn’t offer much replayability and I can’t see myself playing through it again. Whilst I did have some issues with the game, like the poor voice acting, dodgy character animations and the puzzles feeling tedious at times, the story is actually very good and kept me entertained throughout the duration. A lot of games often fail to keep a decent pacing to the narrative structure, with initial prologues that often fade away during the main portion of the game. Nightmares from the Deep does a good job of mixing up gameplay, cutscenes and dialogue to keep things moving and feeling fresh.
Overall, Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart is a decent game with some good ideas but some aspects drag it down a little. Puzzle games have never been my favourite style of game but the art style and story here kept me engaged throughout. The hint system makes the game ridiculously easy and I would only recommend using it if you get stuck completely or don’t have much patience with puzzle solving. If you like puzzle games, visual novels or even some of the Telltale games I would suggest checking this out, but there are plenty of other games out there that do similar things and offer better experiences.
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