Night Terrors: Bloody Mary Video Game Review
Written by Ryan Noble
Released by Imprezario
Developed by Imprezario
2018, Rated 17+
Game released on 12 October (iOS), 19 October (Android)
Platforms: iOS, Android
From the mind of the Paranormal Activity creator, Oren Peli, and studio Imprezario comes Night Terrors: Bloody Mary, an augmented-reality sequel on iOS and Android that makes the world around you a place of dread with a long, dark history. Spend an evening literally stepping into the world of Bloody Mary and see what happens, just like I did…
The introduction to the game really sets the tone. From the studio logo introduction and the game’s speedy how-to section to the background into the cursed tale of Bloody Mary herself, it feels like nothing has been spared in making the player feel like they’re wandering into something cursed. And strangely, despite walking through the rooms of my own home, that’s exactly how I felt...
Night Terrors uses augmented reality (AR) to make the very normal world around you much less normal. And since it recommends that you play with the lights off and headphones in, it does so to great effect. Using my phone’s camera and a grainy, flickering filter, my flat is like some sort of found-footage horror film.
In addition to the filter, the game takes control of your phone’s torch and uses it effectively throughout. It starts off as nothing more than a torch, lighting the way as you walk through your darkened home (or wherever you may choose to play), but before long it becomes a scare in its own right. Sometimes it represents lightning flashes or flickers so quickly that it distorts the world in front of you, while other times it cuts out and leaves you in complete darkness.
Along with the darkness comes whispers, rattling chains, and unknown phone calls. As ever in horror games, sound is incredibly important, and when it’s used, it’s used well. It’s a shame that it’s not used more, which sums how I feel about a few different aspects of the game.
Night Terrors proves that AR is getting better every day and can create an incredibly immersive experience, one that seems more suited to horror than most genres, but I was expecting to be more scared.
There’s quite a lot of time spent walking around in silence. While there is something in the tension of waiting, it feels like more could be done to keep you on edge. There are entire minutes with nothing much happening and a few more touches like whispers, noises behind you, maybe some paranormal scrawling on the wall as you walk around would go a long way.
It got to the point where I was trying to walk quicker around my flat in case the game wants you to reach a certain number of steps before another apparition appears. When they do appear, they’re pretty awesome; bodies drop down from the ceiling, an executioner lumbers around with his axe in hand, and Bloody Mary herself is hideous in the best kind of way, but I wanted more.
I think a few more scares throughout would keep the pacing much more level and keep the heart racing from that 20-min point onwards, at which point I realised I was starting to watch the clock.
Things do start to speed up towards the end, but at this point I found the unfolding narrative confusing. Without spoiling anything, I switched from being myself to what I believe was the point-of-view of a girl who had been taken by Bloody Mary after speaking her name three times in the mirror. I’m still not entirely sure.
Pair this with the fact that when the game ends, it doesn’t seem to end. Although I clearly seen the climax moments before, I was once again walking through my home with the clock still ticking upwards. Not wanting to miss anything, I let a few more minutes pass and still nothing, so I turned the game off. This left me feeling like I hadn’t really finished the game, which, as you’d expect, is unfulfilling.
Overall, Bloody Mary is an amazing as an urban legend based on very real, bloody history, and she’s been captured perfectly in Night Terrors: Bloody Mary, but I believe this game could have done more. There’s plenty of potential in the AR capability and effective torch implementation, and I can easily see the game being passed around for groups to spook each other this Halloween. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t manage to tell a more coherent story or keep the scares going.
Obviously, that’s just my opinion – I know a few people who I’m sure couldn’t make it past the first few minutes, but for those of you who love being scared, I think you’ll want more.
Night Terrors: Bloody Mary is available on iOS (where a new update surrounding tracking and ‘experience’ improvements was just rolled out) and Android, which the game was released on as of Friday just gone. Think you’re ready to try on the curse of Bloody Mary for yourself? Say her name three times into the mirror (and download the game, of course), I dare you…