The indie horror game, Nevermind, is a chilling adventure through the minds of patients who have suffered from traumatic experiences during their lifetime. Nevermind can be played with an optional biofeedback sensor which keeps track of your heart rate. Set in a sort of futuristic facility, players interact with hi-tech computers in order to better assess the mental state of a patient by literally going into their minds. The game takes players through reality-bending instances in a subject’s subconscious as “Neurostalgia’s newest Neuroprober”.
While I appreciated the ideas and the application of most of said ideas, there were some incredibly frustrating moments in Nevermind which slowed the gameplay tremendously. Nevermind was both fascinating and incredibly exhausting for reasons we will explore during this review of the title’s Early Access gameplay.
Experience a well-thoughtout game world and backstory
I was instantly intrigued by the modern feel of Nevermind. I enjoyed the exposition told by a touchscreen computer and the holodeck-like room your character must enter in order to start the levels. You are immediately under the impression that this is a hi-tech environment set somewhere in the future.
After reveling in the futuristic atmosphere, the player is thrust into the subconscious of a patient and the world around them completely changes. I was faced with strange and often times scary scenery as I delved into the mind of another person. While the idea of seeing twisted hallways and metaphoric faceless church-goers is interesting, some of the instances were unnecessarily complicated. There were times in which it seemed as though you had numerous paths to take but in reality it was just a maze and the addition of it was unneeded. If the paths had been linear it would have been equally as effective and quite a bit less frustrating.
Pull your hair out solving puzzles
The actual gameplay for Nevermind consists mostly of solving puzzles. The goal of each level is to find and sort 10 different “Photo Memories” which can be found throughout the world or by solving the aforementioned puzzles. Not every photo is a true memory and so it takes some guess work to decide which are true and which are false memories created by the patient’s consciousness. I quite liked this mechanic, though the process of solving puzzles sort of overshadows it.
While most of the puzzles were rather simple, there were a select few that truly threw me. One specific example would be figuring out the combination to a safe in a room you were trapped in until you unlocked it. At first I thought I was just a bit numb-skulled but further inspection showed me a guide on Nevermind’s steam page for that specific puzzle so it certainly wasn’t just me having issues. When puzzles take a great deal of time to solve and there’s nothing else to entertain you while you do so, it brings gameplay to a halt and takes you out of the wonderful game world created by Nevermind.
Be genuinely scared and enthralled all at once
Nevermind does an excellent job of creating tension. I was constantly waiting for something horrible to happen and when it did, it did so efficiently enough for me to jump in my chair. The notion of literally walking through another person’s innermost thoughts is an interesting one, but knowing I could be injured or even killed at any point kept me on my toes. As mentioned before, the game world kept me rather immersed, trailing me through horrible stories and environments. I wanted to know where the next step in each patient’s subconscious would take me even while I hesitated to open doors for fear of being scared.
However, there were certainly some issues with the world, such as some of the object scaling. At points, I stood at a massive door while I was at eye level with both its handle and a flower nearby. While both subjects in Nevermind’s Early Access are children, this still made very little sense to me. Because of issues like that, you never got a true sense of being an actual character roaming around, rather you floated about as a bodiless pair of eyes, and that grew increasingly frustrating. During portions of the game you’re expected to dodge objects or stay a certain distance away from them in order to make it out without injury. Not only does the lack of a health bar make it hard to know when you’re in danger, but its hard to judge distances when you can’t get a feel for where your character is.
Taking all of the above into consideration, Nevermind’s Early Access was a refreshing look at indie psychological horror games. Though I did not have the opportunity to use a heart rate sensor with the game, it still managed to scare me and keep me entertained. Puzzles were sometimes frustratingly arbitrary and I was never quite sure where my hitbox was, but I enjoyed Nevermind as a whole, overall.