Jim's Nightmare: Chapter 1 Review – Has potential, but is still rough around the edges

Gare – Wednesday, April 17, 2024 6:13 PM
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I love point & click adventure games, especially ones that attempt to tickle my nostalgia muscles by utilizing a retro-style pixel art aesthetic, and I’m also quite fond of dark, brooding storylines with heavy themes. So, as you might imagine, I went into Jim’s Nightmare, a point & click psychological thriller from developer Pumpkiny Games, with cautious optimism – it’s a story about mental illness, crime and inner demons, following the daily routine of Jim, a former criminal who’s trying to start his life anew with a clean slate. However, he seems to be haunted by his past – not just in his nightmares, but in the real world as well. So, how does the game fare, all in all? Well... admirably enough, I suppose. But it’s not without some pretty glaring issues that I’ll talk about in a bit.

Decent puzzles, solid visuals

That said, let’s start with the good: the pixel art is solid, and the game sets a pleasantly somber tone, maintaining it for most of the adventure – the locations are all dark, dreary and cold, creating just the perfect atmosphere for Jim’s struggles, as well as the potentially life-threatening events that unfold in this introductory chapter. Jim’s Nightmare also lets you peek into Jim’s actual nightmares – otherworldly sequences that are both brutal and bizarre, brought to life by our protagonist’s troubled past, and although the first and only one I experienced in Chapter 1 was fairly brief, I’m hoping these bits will continue to escalate and become more and more outlandish as the story progresses, because they do have the potential to add some delightfully surreal, nightmarish stuff to the game. Puzzle-wise, I have little to complain about: the brain teasers in Jim’s Nightmare have – so far – not been overly complicated, and albeit they do require you to carefully look around each room, and admittedly there is some pixel hunting to be done here and there, the tasks you need to solve are fairly logical and never get too crazy. I was, however, slightly disappointed by the game’s writing quality, its numerous typos and grammatical errors, as well as the somewhat hit-and-miss nature of the voice acting; after all, these are all features I would expect to be more polished in a narrative-centric adventure game.

The chase is on, but I wish it wasn’t

The game also implements some very light RPG elements (so light, in fact, that I hesitate to even call them that) in the form of unlockable skills that affect your gameplay in various minor ways, such as allowing you to run for longer periods of time, or highlighting interactable objects and important locations. I felt these were fairly redundant and didn’t add a whole lot to the overall experience, albeit I didn’t particularly mind their inclusion, either. On the other hand, I felt a lot more frustrated by the game’s insistence on adding mild “action” sequences – in the segment I played, for example, there’s a portion that has you trying to outrun a monster that’s capable of instantly killing you if he so much as touches your character. It’s a short bit and only happens once in Chapter 1, but it still manages to be immensely frustrating, forcing the player to try and outmaneuver a creature using only the game’s rather clunky point & click controls. The actual nightmare sequence was fairly cool otherwise, but I’m not exactly sold on the idea of adding irritating and awkwardly presented chase sequences to an otherwise slow-paced game.

Final thoughts

Jim's Nightmare: Chapter 1Platform: WindowsGenre: AdventureDeveloper: Pumpkiny GamesPublisher: Sky Den GamesRelease: 06/04/2024All in all, I’ve seen too little of Jim’s Nightmare to draw a definite conclusion, and while it does have several good bits and promising ideas, it’s also littered with a variety of other issues that hold it back, such as its writing, its grammatical errors, the somewhat lacking quality of its voice acting and the inclusion of a wholly unnecessary chase sequence. If you were to ask me if I recommend it right now, I suppose I’d give it a “not yet, but maybe later”, provided the rest of the story manages to coalesce into something sufficiently interesting, and the aforementioned issues with the writing are ironed out. Chapter 1 has been a decent introduction to Jim’s adventures, but I’m not fully convinced just yet.

Jim’s Nightmare: Chapter 1 is slated to launch for PC on June 4.

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