Reviewed on PC
Red: Lucid Nightmare is a little peculiar, and unfortunately, not the horror Spooktacular kind of peculiar either. While the game started off strong, it became more noticeable things didn’t quite fit into place as the game progressed. Why does this segment exist? What purpose does this serve? Why did Little Miss Jigsaw walk away when she had me dead to rights?
Upon opening the game, you are placed right into the thick of it. No start menu, just a bedroom and the option to begin. You are then transported to a medieval style labyrinth and must begin to solve the maze. Upon reaching the end, you suddenly wake up. This marks the start of Red’s gameplay loop: day segment, nightmare segment, rinse and repeat.
Day segments aren’t particularly difficult but feel a little out of place. They often involve you collecting documents, doing a dash of online detective work and shouting Bloody Mary at a mirror. Navigating these areas can be a challenge as your character is wheelchair bound and sometimes you don’t quite fit into the gaps you need to get through. Difficulty can also arise when trying to inspect certain items or areas that are just too high for the character to reach. Outside of movement in these segments, daytime is fairly easy compared to most of the game and, excluding the nonsensical appearance of the legendary Bigfoot, they don’t include any jump scares.
Nightmare segments are where the meat of the game is. Finding objectives and working out what to do can be a bit difficult as nothing is clearly signposted. This ultimately works to the game’s advantage by helping to create an atmosphere of uneasiness, however, this sense dies quickly upon discovering the monsters. Not that you will happen upon them frequently. Should an encounter occur, you are quickly chased down and murdered; there isn’t a clear way to escape them.
While you can use a flashlight to stop your pursuers, as soon as you turn a corner or run out of power, the pursuit will continue. It gets to a point where you stop running away screaming for your life and start running away screaming for them to bugger off. Much like their child-like appearance, they seem to be able to pick and choose when they want to kill you. This results in scenarios where you rightfully should have lost but are forced to continue because the AI simply can’t be bothered.
Trying to battle these creatures isn’t particularly easy either, especially when you aren’t sure of your tools. You are given a flashlight and a radio as well as the batteries to recharge them, however, never actually told how to use these items. Normally, a player would go to the key bindings in the menu to find out these things if not told. Yet, after navigating the pause menu with WASD and spacebar, there was a clear lack of notation for key bindings making it all the more difficult to surmise how to play. It took misclicking a button to work out how to change batteries. How to utilize the radio is still a mystery.
Red: Lucid Nightmare isn’t particularly long. Not a great deal of time was spent getting to the final night. Most of that time was spent getting lost and being jump scared. Often by things that weren’t jumpscares, such as door opening sounds or my own footsteps. In general elements of the game just feel out of place. While it starts off strong, it doesn’t quite deliver past that beginning, leaving much unexplained.