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The New Nightmare is one of those games that trips itself up because it couldn't decide what it wanted to be; creepy mysterious thriller or action/adventure. The beginning is so promising, regardless of the character you choose; Aline finds herself on the roof of a strange manor and is forced to find her way in via the room of a strange old woman, while Carnby (whose name sounds a lot like "Corned Beef" whenever the characters speak it aloud) is forced to take the more direct approach and explore the manor grounds. As they explore, they come to realise the place is infested with all manner of strange creatures, from malevolent spirits to beasts that flourish in the dark. These latter beasties can make for some genuinely tense moments as you flee down darkened corridors desperately searching for a light switch before the game gives you sufficient weapons.
The game makes excellent use of lighting even beyond dispelling enemies; sure the dimly lit rooms are also trying to mask how mediocre some of the textures and modelling are, but hey, it's SPOOKY darn it. There's a sequence for Aline where she starts hearing whispers cajoling her onwards that get stronger the closer she gets to her source that is absolutely unnerving. Carnby's exploration of the grounds before he finds his way inside is similarly creepy, with lightning flashes illuminating the dark vegetation and rubble, and an unpleasant surprise or two lurking behind closed doors.
The problem is that the longer you play it, the scarier it isn't. Subtle atmosphere and mood is abandoned in favour of tedious enemy blasting as the game throws more resilient enemies at you to impede your progress. By the halfway point, it's more annoying than it is tense and frightening to round a corner and find a group of baddies milling about waiting for their turn to chew on your face. Aline's path fairs a bit better since she takes longer to find herself armed, and as such gets to explore the spooky halls and rooms feeling more vulnerable; within minutes, by contrast, Carnby is forced into frustrating shooting sequences against enemies. It's like the developers saw the popularity of Resident Evil and were worried this game wouldn't be received as well unless they shifted the focus more on shootin' varmints.
It doesn't help that the narrative gets bogged down in a lot of silly "ancient legend" hoo-haw, complete with mysterious Native American dude whose exposition just winds up making the game sound ridiculous. Horror isn't horror anymore once you explain it away, and unfortunately the explanation The New Nightmare comes up for its mysterious island isn't particularly scary.
The gameplay itself is... alright. Controls are mostly responsive, . Enemies soak a lot of damage before they drop, so the game tries to encourage you to find alternate ways to dispose of them or sneak by. The problem with this is that the game likes to throw groups of them at you in tight quarters so that you're forced to kill at least one or two in order to get by, and both our would-be heroes are disappointingly fragile, dying after a few hits. It doesn't help that the most lethal of enemies tend to be faster than either Aline or Carnby can stumble along, either.
Is it worth six dollars? That depends. If you're a big fan of the genre, then it's worth it just to play it and see what it gets right. It's not unforgivably bad, and its good points mostly balance out the bad to make the whole experience serviceable, if not particularly memorable. While it lasts, The New Nightmare is mostly entertaining, and as long as you don't expect too much from it (or any degree of perfection), it makes for a good evening's play.