Nightslink is a short and sweet PT type horror game

A recent Dead Space panel came with a reveal: protagonist Isaac Clarke, who was left speechless in the original game, would now be voiced for the remake. It’s a relatively small change in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a talking point for many fans. A voice actor is a difficult tool to use in horror, and some games use too much.

Sometimes it works well, like Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil 4, who is fondly remembered for his great gossip like “Does your right hand fall off?” But in The medium, a recent horror title from Bloober Team, I could barely hear myself thinking about the reflections of the protagonist Marianne. She kept guiding me places while processing it out loud in real time, like someone explaining her own jokes. It just killed the momentum.

That’s why i loved Nightslink, a very small indie horror game that was released in late August. The game is a bite-sized horror experience with no save feature, and it only requires around half an hour of your time. It has echoes of PT, without simply breaking the formula. It has a similar sense of unresolved dread and cyclical progression. I am delivering cassette tapes to clients in my role as Nightslink, a messenger for that specific task. And that’s where the beauty of Nightslink emerges from– Ask a series of questions and let your brain bite into what the answer is. There is no definitive answer, and that is the point. This sense of restraint makes the horror game that much more forceful.

Nightslink - An image of an apartment door labeled '76'.  The person inside asks' Is it you?  Do you have the things? '

Image: Noiseminded

The game is short, but it is also chaff free. There are no frights, no unnecessary voice-overs from the protagonists, no lyrics full of exposure. Developer Noiseminded has cleverly removed the unnecessary nonsense plaguing many modern horror games. There is nothing that bothers me more than to find a note written by a scientist where he explains all his crimes and then says “Oh no! They are at the door! They found me! Oh nooooo! “or when a protagonist takes a photo and says’ Uh … this must be the woman who lived here. She looks so innocent …”

I do not need this! I have eyes, ears and a brain! Let me draw my own conclusions! Nightslink it’s sleek, streamlined, and packed with nightmare fuel. I found it delicious, well, as delicious as it can be to watch my clients slowly decay into sputtering and terrified shells of themselves. Let’s just say my time delivering cassette tapes to initially wary Nightslink customers was memorable.

The game is graphically inspired by the original PlayStation, making it part of a retro wave, and it works well for NightslinkIt is a short and gloomy journey as a courier. Everything is low poly and kind of ugly. The audio design also makes the player uncomfortable and unbalanced. When I talk to my clients, there is only a hint of the original voice under layers of distortion. My first few rounds are backed up by the buzz of fluorescent lights and ambient life, like someone’s music or a baby’s cry. Then I go home and record more cassettes for the customers’ enjoyment. It is a mechanical and boring task: load a tape, record, eject, load a tape, record, eject. What’s in the cassettes? I don’t know, and that’s the point.

Nightslink - The player prepares to record a cassette in a dark room.

Image: Noiseminded

With Nightslink, the danger is insidious and mysterious, which makes it more terrifying. Maybe it will come from me, while I do my rounds. Maybe something else is going on. No root cause is found in the third act, such as a laboratory that housed the experiment or the lair of an evil cult. Maybe it’s the childhood trauma of the main character or a sad ghost.

After my first run, I went through another time and realized that residents have more to say after you drop the tape if you have the patience to keep calling. There is enough to be intriguing, but never enough to be overwhelming. I may have a little cosmic dread, as a gift.

Nightslink it’s a bite-sized experience, but it has successfully used its short runtime to lodge in the back of my brain.

Nightslink was released on August 24 on Steam and Vox Media has affiliate associations. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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