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4.78 / 5.00

Closer Look: Nightmare

By: Dr. Dos
Published: Dec. 31, 2016

Hello, mortal. I am the Sandman. And you are my prisoner.

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See that tiny dark purple passage? That's been there the entire game, but I'll be damned if I ever noticed it among all the noise on this board. (It's surrounded with normal walls until this point, so you can't just wake up at any time.)

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I love this ending. Barjesse's writing for the Sandman is excellent at invoking that otherworldly feeling. It's amazing what some extra spacing can do. And that animation of the little stick figure! And the eyes opening! It all looks so wonderful!

Final Thoughts

Barjesse's Nightmare was a notable release then, and holds up phenomenally to this day. The puzzles are fun, fair, and strike a good balance between the effort required to solving them and the interest the player will actually have while solving them.

The game is visually striking, the ever shifting colors of the main hub are unlike any other ZZT board I've seen. There's a lot of good use of colors in the various mazes. (Though the one that's solid white is a bit of an eye strain.) The conveyor maze blends similar colors together in such a way that the player will likely be caught off guard. Muted scenes like the riddle board still manage to look good, even when they don't have that bright pop seen elsewhere.

The puzzles themselves are a good variety and play to ZZT's strengths. sliders, transporters, walls and floors witching places, all of these are the kind of puzzles you'll find in ZZT, but not really anywhere else. Some puzzles may be a bit weak, like the riddles having to be multiple choice or moving a robot around an empty room to get a key, but the lower quality puzzles come off as filler, not bad design. Nightmare is nothing more than a collection of puzzles, and what's offered makes for an extremely enjoyable experience.

I strongly suggest that you try the game yourself if you haven't already. You'll need a good two hours to get through (making this the longest game I've covered yet), and it's time that's well spent.


The Closer Looks series is a part of the Worlds of ZZT project, committed to the preservation of ZZT and its history.
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