By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on November 13, 2015
What a week, ladies and gentlemen, what a week. Me and my crew were charging ahead through time like you've never seen. We were there, we were in the zone; you could even say we were on fire... which we damn near actually were! At first, everything was going fine; we were out testing the new Hybrid Molecular Vacu-Distortion drives for our Big Red Timemachine, and making good time in the process. Though many people seem to think time travel happens really fast, almost instant, like the DeLorean did in Back to the Future. I can tell you, it's nothing like that. Actually, it's more like driving a DeLorean through a psychedelic swamp with one flat tire and a broken gear shift. So a new propulsion system was in order.
When we were in the middle of our last test-run, a string of unfortunate mistakes (none of which were mine, of course), threw our timemachine off course and sent us spinning through time in a rather out of control fashion. When we finally managed to get the machine under control and stay in one time, we seemed to have landed in the middle of London in the year 1666. We immediately set out to make the necessary repairs and thanked our lucky starts that we landed under the cover of night. One of our new drives was all screwed up, so we had to remove it from the timemachine. In another unlucky turn of events, it fell off, bounced across the cobblestones and rolled down the street, where it stopped its brief journey against the side of a bakery. Now, I don't know how well you all are versed in the finer points of Hybrid Molecular Vacu-Distortionism, so I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say that these babies tend to heat up... a LOT! So, we not only visited 17th century London, we also managed to ignite one of the largest fires ever to rage this fair city: The Great Fire of London. Oh well, as my mother always says: why make something good, if you can also make it great!
After this little pyric problem, my crew and I decided to stay a little closer to home and settled on the year 1997. Once there, we were delighted to see that at least one game had capitalized on our latest escapade. This game is one of those few specimens of gaming history that I've played a significant number of times, but failed to finish. It's a game that dabbles in the occult, ventures into the realm of horror and managed to be quite awesome. So join us, here in 1997, and let's have a look at Nightmare Creatures.
Originally released for PC and Playstation in 1997 and for Nintendo 64 in 1998, Nightmare Creatures takes the player on a journey through the realm of terror in 19th century England. When the game starts, we are transported to London, 1666. The brotherhood of Hecate, an evil occult society, is stirring up all kinds of trouble. They are conducting experiments into the creation of super-human abilities. Sadly, their test subjects turn into horrific monsters. But, you know what they say: If life hands you lemons, use these lemons to take over the world! So, in the process of creating super-humans, they create enough monstrosities to form an army. At some point along the way, one of the sharper individuals of the cult comes up with the plan to use these creatures to take over the world. That's where another of the cult-members (Samuel Pepys, who was probably only in it for the snazzy costumes) draws the line and burns down the cult headquarters, destroying all of the Brotherhood's research. Hence, the Great Fire of London. At least, that's what they think... but we know better by now, don't we?!
Fast-forward to 1834. The brotherhood is once more up to its evil schemes and has joined forces with Adam Crowley, an occult-minded mad scientist. Together, they rain terror on the poor citizens of London, by unleashing creatures that seem to have been spawned in their worst nightmares (hence the title). At this time, Ignatius Blackward (priest, occult expert and fighter of evil) receives the lost diary of Samuel Pepys, containing all that remains of the Brotherhood's research. Knowing he can't figure out these occult dealings on his own, he sends the book to Dr. Jean Franciscus, a renowned immunologist and asks him for help. Dr. Franciscus, however, gets killed when the Brotherhood steals the diary from him. This is where your adventure begins; as either Ignatius Blackward or Nadia Franciscis (daughter of Dr. Jean Franciscus), you set out to battle these creatures and destroy the Brotherhood of Hecate once and for all.
After selecting your character, you set out to vanquish evil and restore peace to London once again. Although it might not look like it, Nightmare Creatures' graphics were great at the time of its release. The creatures looked terrifyingly cool, as did the environments. The control scheme was pretty straight forward and quite a bit less clunky than the leading horror game of the time, Resident Evil. Sure, there were some issues, but that was just what we expected from a 3D horror game, 18 years ago. Nevertheless, it truly was a great game; one I would rather gladly see remade. The game's eerie soundtrack only enhanced the gothic horror feel the game was going for. As for the weapons; besides each character's main weapon, you were able to make use of pistols, bombs and magic to decimate the evil creatures that seem determined to thwart you at every turn.
I had enormous amounts of fun while playing this game back in the day. It looked cool, it sounded cool and it played well. And although I still prefer Resident Evil, Nightmare Creatures was a good game in its own right. It wasn't just a simple and cheap rip-off. It was a well thought out and well written piece of 19th century gothic horror. It even spawned a sequel: Nightmare Creatures II for the Playstation and the Dreamcast in 2000. But that's another story for another time. For now, I think I'll just visit Victorian London again to see if there are some ungodly creatures about that are in dire need of a giant can of whoop-ass!