Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Nightmare House

Go To
Nightmare House is a free two-part horror modification of Half-Life 2 developed by We Create Stuff, also known for Portal: The Flash Version. It can be found here (Nightmare House 2 includes a revamped version of Nightmare House 1). It is not to be confused with the Super Mario World mod of the same name.

Nightmare House 1 is a simple horror mod with no changes to the Source engine but some model edits. In it, you play a nameless protagonist who crashes his car in the middle of nowhere. Venturing into a nearby house, he finds it haunted by zombies and a mysterious ghostly woman. Eventually he escapes, but before he can get back to the road, the woman appears and blocks his path, and he blacks out.

Nightmare House 2 features more changes to the game engine, and a far longer storyline. In it, after the events of Nightmare House 1, the protagonist wakes up in a cell at the mysterious "Never Lose Hope" hospital, a massive hospital in the middle of nowhere. Featuring an actual plot, you attempt to escape the now zombie-infested hospital with the aid of various characters, and try to find the explanation behind the mysterious ghostly woman who seems to be following you.

You had to have Half-Life 2: Episode 2 installed in order to run it, but the latest, updated release turned the mod standalone, while also updating a few things.

This game provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: Setting of the second game.
  • Action Prologue: The original game is considered this to 2.
  • Anti-Villain: Emily in the second game.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The second game's "real" ending, in which you destroy the Core. Sure, you manage to destroy the Core, allowing Emily to finally get her revenge on Romero, but the game cuts off after her "Thank you." It's unclear what her idea of gratitude consists of, but it could be anything from a quick death over simply letting you leave the hospital to wanting to be your bestest friend. Forever. Further compounded by Fridge Horror when you realize that there's probably a reason that you're lying on the floor, being unable to move or do anything but look around after destroying the Core.
    • However, after the credits in the updated version you hear a steady pulse from a heart monitor, indicating the protagonist may have survived.
  • Ambiguously Evil: One could argue the point of whether or not Romero is really, truly evil. There's no proof that he did anything to Emily, and most of his actions were in self defense.
    • Faux Affably Evil: At the final fight however Romero reveals himself to be basically outright evil as he brags about being able to control free will, couldn't care less about the destruction caused by The Core and brags about murdering a SWAT team plus its Black Hawk helicopter escort, all the while gleefully talking about your inevitable death.
  • Artifact Title: Only the beginning of the second game takes place in the titular house. The rest takes place entirely in Never Lose Hope Hospital.
  • Badass Crew: The SWAT team mows down zombies like there's no tomorrow.
  • Batman Gambit: The first game resulted in the main character being hauled off to a hospital... which is the same hospital that Emily's husband resides at. It's all Emily's machinations.
  • Call-Back: A few in the sequel, one of which includes mattresses being launched in the air.
  • Cat Scare: Happens quite often.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Emily, though she has a funny way of showing it.
  • Demonic Possession: Emily does this to the player, while Romero does this to the SWAT team, helicopter pilot and quite possibly the entire hospital. He may also have created Emily in the first place.
  • Dull Surprise: Dr. Romero, especially when you fight the core.
    Romero: I'm going to kick your ass, With Science of course.
  • Easter Egg:
    • Word of God says there are 17, including a music video!
    • If you noclip to the rooms that Romero talks to via TV over, he'll actually chastise you for cheating and tell you to go back to the actual level. Yes, this exists in every single map where he talks to you.
  • Elite Zombie:
    • The riot zombie, whose armor protects it from gunshots to certain areas on it's body.
    • The creeper, which is a fast demon-like creature capable of lunging at you from several feet away.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: See, you are in a house, and it's full of nightmarish surprises...
  • Fun with Acronyms: One of the more interesting features in the game is the Auto Scare System that manages when certain events happen, akin to the AI director from Left 4 Dead.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The SWAT squad leader can "open" locked doors with his shotgun. But when you try it with the same shotgun, it doesn't work.
  • Genre Shift: By the end of the second game, there's a lot more science fiction involved.
  • Hands-Free Handlamp: The player collects a blatantly handheld flashlight at the start of Nightmare House 2, but it always puts a beam in the center of the screen without being held, and it's not clear how they are carrying it.
  • Haunted House: The setting of the first game.
  • Haunted Technology: Dr. Romero says that the PA system in NH2 is completely automated. It's not, although it doesn't start being noticeable up til Chapter 3. It's both hilarious and creepy to hear the mechanical voice start showing signs of being a Deadpan Snarker.
    PA: Thank you for participating in this fire drill. If it was a real fire, you'd be dead by now.
    • Eventually, you come upon a room that appears to be where the PAs would be originating from, and you end up finding a dessicated corpse still sitting at the chair in front of the microphone. The PA then chimes in: "I do not wish for you to see me like this. Please leave now."
  • Heroic Mime: The player character never speaks, or even make any sound at all.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: The level design is in-lieu with lots of the Source games, meaning that there will be loads of this.
  • Invisible Anatomy: Played straight, since it is a Half-Life 2 mod.
  • Jump Scare: Often courtesy of Emily.
  • Lampshade Hanging: "Seriously, who designed this place? And what does he have against light?"
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The second game has this a bit.
  • Mind Rape: Romero's machine does this to you in the boss fight. He actually describes this as "raping your head".
  • Multiple Endings/Nonstandard Game Over: You can choose to leave the hospital when Romero asks you to, but Emily doesn't take it too well.
  • Murderous Mannequin: Subverted in Nightmare House 2, which has you spending one level with a lot of mannequins - which multiply and come closer when you do not look at them, but do not attack. You then encounter a SWAT officer knocking on a window from another room and using gestures to show you where to go. When you get to the place where he was, there is just a mannequin...
  • No OSHA Compliance: Anyone with a slice of common sense would not put gas canisters next to a generator. Guess what you have in the power room.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The more frightening scenes are often preluded in areas completely devoid of enemies, lighting, or both. They are far creepier than groaning zombies charging at you head-on.
    • Also, the mannequins mentioned above. They don't attack you, they don't even make any movements. And yet they managed to become one of the creepiest elements of the game by having a nasty habit of appearing right behind you to spook you as you turn, and replacing a friendly NPC who was gesturing you the way to go just moments ago.
    • Not to mention the hall of shadow people. They don't move at all, and they can only harm you if you walk right into them, yet just seeing them might make you want to trek back to that laundry room to wash your pants.
  • Police Are Useless: Played with. Real SWAT members would never let a civilian carry a gun on them. Especially an asylum patient. On the other hand, it is a minor zombie apocalypse and taking it away is tantamount to a death sentence and they DID need a guide. They were also wary of the patient, but decided he seemed sane enough. On the other hand, they perform their jobs semi-professionally at best. On the other hand, they all die and one of them hallucinates and almost kills his squad leader. On the other hand, they mow down zombies like no tomorrow and the one guy hallucinates because of a machine that the player helped strengthen the signal of and the main character is immune to its effects thanks to Emily.
  • Puzzle Boss: The Core. You have to break the fragile wood planks supporting it.
  • Random Event:
    • "We would like to take a minute of your time to notify you... There is something behind you."
    • Some of the SWAT team's jokes.
    • You will sometimes be hurt for a single point of damage for no discernable reason.
  • Railroading: You can't open any of the doors until the current plot event has ended.
    • Made even worse by the fact that the SWAT squad leader can easily blast them open with his shogun, but when you've finally get his shotgun and try the same, nope, doesn't work.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The SWAT do this all the time.
    "I just can't stop thinking about how scary it be if a flaming homeless guy came out of the dark right now".
  • Signs of Disrepair: If you take a look at the sign for the hospital in the Non-Standard Game Over, it's "Never Hope" Hospital.
  • Shmuck Bait: Occasionally, your subtitles will be spammed with "DON'T LOOK BEHIND YOU" or something similar. Looking behind you gives you Emily for a split second.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Emily. Not exactly the typical kind, though.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: In Chapter 7, even though you know Romero is probably hiding in that bathroom you have no choice but to leave the room, at which point he locks you out and you're forced to destroy the core while he sends hallucinations after you. This is even more frustrating since you just got the shotgun, the weapon that had been used to "open" locked doors by the squad leader until that point.
    • It gets funnier if you noclip through the door to find Romero is silently doing a physically impossible dance of the sort straight out of a bad G-Mod short.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: Your light in both games lasts as long as the ones in the Half-Life games they're based off of. In the case of 2, it's just as generous as the one in Half-Life 2 Episode 2, but since you spend much more time in total darkness in the mod, its relatively short battery life becomes painfully noticeable.
  • The Undead: Both games feature them. They're either paranormal, hallucinations or both.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: And it's all Romero's fault.
  • Updated Re-release: NH1, which was integrated into NH2 as a prologue and features improved visuals.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Romero as you destroy his machine.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Romero summons "creepy" zombies from your mind during the finale. Whether or not they're real the rest of the time is uncertain.
    • Romero's diary mentions how the cook was a zombie and he killed him with the axe, which means that some of the zombies are real - or he is just completely bonkers. It's more likely that most of the zombies are real, and that Romero is just cloning them from his own or the Player's experience.
      • Maybe the axe isn't real either, and is actually still just lying there in front of the house with all your weapons from the first game.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Happened in the second game, albeit a minor one. The zombies in the first game are likely just hallucations induced by Emily.