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Nightmares Within Nightmares

by Grahamw


Web Site

(based on 6 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

Every night, the dream is the same. I am running through my hometown, with a vast fleshy mass pursuing me, and I know I will die.

Then I wake up. And then the nightmare continues.

This is a short game written in four hours for the ECTOCOMP jam.

Game Details


4th Place, La Petite Mort - English - ECTOCOMP 2022


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Number of Reviews: 3
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream, November 1, 2022
by jakomo
Related reviews: ectocomp2022

Ingenious time-loop puzzle box in which you whizz through a sequence of cyclical inter-linked nightmare scenarios trying to escape to wakefulness. A dense thicket of choices await you at each turn, as you seek the critical clues from one dream to help free yourself from another. Impressively captures that bewildering yet hyper-real feeling of free-association during a vivid dream to a tee.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Within Nightmares Within Nightmares Within…, November 21, 2022
by Draconis
Related reviews: Ectocomp 2022

You’re trapped in a nightmare. But not just a nightmare. Every time you wake up it just changes—you might wake up from being chased by a monster to find your lover crumbling to dust in your arms. (Always “your lover”, not gendered, which is a nice touch even if it sometimes makes for awkward writing.)

This is a choice-based horror puzzle game written in Ink. Your goal is to break out of the recursive nightmare you’re in, and at first it seems like a Groundhog Day time loop, where there’s one “correct” path through the tree of options that will set you free. But there isn’t; there’s something else you have to do.

(Spoiler - click to show)You need to use information from each nightmare in the others. When you’re being chased by a monster, you can run into a tattoo parlor, which reminds you of matching tattoos you and your lover got—and those tattoos are how you break out of the nightmare where they fall apart into dust. This works especially well in Ink, which keeps a transcript of all your past choices for you to consult.

The “aha!” moment of figuring out this puzzle was very cool. Unfortunately, the end result didn’t feel much different from “find the one correct path”. I just couldn’t figure out how to use the clues I was given: (Spoiler - click to show)my lover wanted to go to the church and then get coffee, but the solution isn’t to go to the church or the coffee shop, it’s to go behind the church. In hindsight I can see how this makes sense, but while playing, I ended up lawnmowering the last nightmare (trying each option one by one) until I came across the one that worked.

All in all, it’s a very cool idea, and I like the sort of horror on show here—it’s different from anything else I’ve played in this comp, and offers very satisfying catharsis. But my experience would have been a lot better if the clues had been a little bit clearer, and some of the red herrings removed. I understand why some red herring options need to exist, for the puzzle to be satisfying instead of “click this link to win”. But I ended up giving up on the right answer to the final puzzle because those red herrings made me think I was on completely the wrong track.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A series of cyclical nightmares with inter-connected puzzles, November 13, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a Twine game where you have three dreams in order, over and over again, about dying.

Each dream is fairly brief, with 2-3 or 4 choices per dream. There are a lot of options, though, so it's hard to know what to do to be safe.

Fortunately, if you explore each dream enough, you find hints about the other dreams. Phrases that don't make sense at the time but later you look at options and go, 'Oh, I get it now!'.

Even after playing a couple of times, I didn't always understand why some things happened (like why the kitchen just kind of disappears or what triggers the ending for the final dream).

The writing is on-point and covers some frightening situations. I didn't feel sucked in emotionally, maybe because I was focused on the puzzle-aspects and felt safe as it was all a dream. But it was very descriptive.

Excellent work for a 4-hour game, and a neat way to do choice-based puzzles.

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