Spanish indie developer Postmodern Adventures is one of the most promising newcomers to the adventure scene since Dave Gilbert paved the way for commercial AGS adventures with his studio Wadjet Eye Games. Already in 2020 the game company with its free games Billy Masters Was Right and Urban witch story made a name for itself and scooped up a total of nine trophies at the 2020 AGS Awards, now with Nightmare frames the first commercial title. The demo version released last year was promptly named “Best Demo” at the AGS Awards 2021, which should have increased the anticipation of genre fans even further.
|And so your dream of becoming a serious author is shattered.|
Classics in the modern age
The name says it all with Postmodern Adventures: the presentation of the above-mentioned predecessors is based on classics by LucasArts and Sierra On-Line from the 1980s. So while these are reminiscent of early SCUMM adventures like Maniac Mansion and SCI adventures like Police Quest Remember, Nightmare Frames feels more like a classic 1990s pixel-adventure with simple two-button mouse controls that let you view everything with the right button and interact with the left button as usual. I want to anticipate this much in my review: With its new title, the studio has delivered an all-round successful debut in the commercial sector, which stands out from comparable titles such as the Blackwellseries does not have to hide.
|In the course of the story you will meet lots of nice people.|
Nothing for the faint-hearted: splatter horror as the basic theme
With its introduction, which I don’t want to reveal here, however, the game sets a perfect framework for the game’s plot and makes it immediately clear that it will be bloody. Set in 1985 Hollywood, the story revolves around the now disillusioned horror screenwriter Alan Goldberg. He’s tired of having to come up with more and more hair-raising sequels to his slasher films. Through the loving design and descriptions of the film posters, which you can find for example in his office, the game captures the atmosphere of the 1980s horror scene and managed to trigger memories of films that I shouldn’t have seen as a teenager. But otherwise the spirit of the 80s drips from every nook and cranny of the screen.
So you slip into the role of Goldberg, who is suffering from writer’s block. Your hope rests on producer Peter Evans who would be willing to find more challenging projects for you. Unfortunately you have to realize right at the beginning that he committed suicide and thus buried your dreams. But you can’t understand why such a rich and successful man would take his own life, so you investigate what’s behind it. You find a lead on a shady film production company that puts you in touch with a ultra-rich film collector who also did business with Peter Evans. She tasks you with finding a lost film that no one is said to have ever seen. It is said to be the worst and most disturbing horror film of all time…
|Your inventory is easily accessible at the top of the screen.|
Exciting story, strong dialogues, logical puzzles
It’s been a long time since I felt such a flow in an adventure as I did in Nightmare Frames. The riddle chains are logically intertwined and allow you to solve different tasks at the same time. You will look in vain for adventure deadly sins such as pixel hunting, dead ends, senseless player deaths or use-everything-with-everything puzzles. The story continues to unfold and keeps you in suspense until the very end. You will experience different sections of the game where your inventory will be emptied from time to time and you will be faced with completely new tasks. When I thought at some point that it would have to be over soon, the game even surprised me with an unexpectedly longer final section.
The characters are well written and the portraits that appear during dialogue are beautifully drawn. The pixel graphics are of course deliberately old-school, but they just fit in perfectly with the 1980s ambience. The controls are self-explanatory and save you long walks and clicking work. As usual, the conversations are multiple-choice. Interestingly, it even has a quick and autosave system built in, which I found very convenient. The game doesn’t have voice acting, but it does have well-translated English texts (the original version was made in Spanish). When asked, the developer said that no further language versions are currently planned. Depending on how the game sells, this could change in the future.
|In one of the game sections you are exposed to an uncomfortable continuous rain.|
I had high expectations for Nightmare Frames based on the previous two games, and they actually exceeded them! If you can jump the language barrier and get used to the pixel visuals, you’re in for a really well-done point-and-click thriller with heaps of references to horror movies and the 1980s in general.
For me it was a great trip back in time and I had at least as much fun as the best Wadjet Eye titles. Overall, it’s surprisingly long for an indie adventure game, you can count on around eight to ten hours of playtime. You can play the game starting today at Steam acquire.
- Pixel-themed point-and-click adventure for PC
- single player
- For beginners to professionals
- In one sentence: Must-have title for old-school adventure fans with a knowledge of English and a weakness for 1980s horror films