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Welcome to the Nightmare Exchange.
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Nightmare Factory is a webcomic created by Snailords in 2016. It is a fantasy series that follows two characters: Kreyul Arroyal and Emai Kashew. Emai is an insomniac writer who has stories constantly streaming through her head, usually about a character called Kreyul. So when she accidentally gets sucked into a horrifying world called The Nightmare Exchange, where she has to survive her greatest fears for 24 hours, she makes a deal with the Game Master, a mysterious figure named Phirre Lotus, to allow her to bring one of her characters in with her to help her succeed in surviving. Thus, Kreyul joins the game, despite being a real person, and not just a figment of her imagination. Now they just need to survive...

However, the entire story is not about The Nightmare Exchange. No, there's things happening outside of it that influence the characters a lot.

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You can read it here. It has a total of one season, and while it is labelled as completed, Snailords has said that it is on indefinite hiatus for the moment, and may or may not return in the future.


Nightmare Factory contains examples of:

  • Absence of Evidence: What leads Kreyul to realize the boy he saved isn't real is that there are multiple light sources, but he only has one shadow, and that his wounds vanished momentarily.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: How else can you describe a system that forces people to live through 24 hours of their worst fears in exchange for a single wish?
  • Action Girl: Emai is a body manipulator, and knows how to use it. She even rips Phirre’s heart out of his chest at a point.
  • Affably Evil: Phirre is charming, well-mannered, flirty, and a tease. But also the Game Master.
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  • Anti-Hero: Emai's one of the good guys, but is more vicious and is not as nice as Kreyul.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Kreyul gives Emai one of these to help cheer her up.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: How Emai got stuck in the Exchange. It’s Phirre’s voice that causes Emai to nearly say yes to going to the Exchange. Even after finding out about his personality, she admits that she hates him, but that his voice on the other hand.. Word of God has suggested his voice as possibly sounding like the English dub for Haku’s from Spirited Away.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the "Obsession" story, what finally scares the man out of the house? Not the idea that his stalking victim seems to be a murderer. Not that he sees her eat her victim's toes. No, it's her playing Justin Bieber music. Naturally, all of it was a trick concocted by Kreyul.
  • Art Evolution: Like, woah. The art starts off as much cuter and in a more traditionally anime-ish style, but develops and grows into something stunning.
  • Art Shift: Kreyul's doodles are in a more Chibi style.
  • Back from the Dead: Phirre does get killed by Emai. But since he’s a siren, he can’t stay dead.
  • Backstory: Has bits and pieces of Kreyul's, Phirre's, Kidus's, and Emai's backstories. Though in the case of Emai, what is revealed of her backstory may or may not be true.
  • Bishōnen: Kreyul has been mistaken for a girl a few times. Phirre is also very pretty. And Kissae’s male form can count too. Kidus is too young to fit this fully, but there are moments where he does look Bishonen. Seppi doesn't quite fit the mold, although he's still a looker.
  • Body Horror: Emai literally ripped Phirre’s heart from his chest. Not only that, his blood burned her hand hideously.
  • Break the Cutie: For a more comedic story, there are a number of these.
    • Emai. She has to survive 24 hours of her worst fears, then comes home to be unable to find her family. Then she has memory problems. But she is still able to remember her loneliness. What a thing to remember.
    • It’s heavily implied that this is what happened to Phirre, although he was never really sweet.
    • The boy Kreyul saves has been assaulted and nearly stoned to death by his own town. Then he gets shot to death. Thankfully, he was never real.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Everybody is insane in some way or another. The two most normal characters are a blue haired artist who can teleport and bleeds from the mouth while thinking of violence, and the other is an Audience Surrogate who specializes in Comical Overreacting and is seriously protective of his dog. Everyone’s insane.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: When the majority of your main characters are men, this is likely to happen. Kreyul and Phirre fit this, as does Kissae's male form.
  • Cat Scare: Well, more like a puppy scare, but...Bitey leaping out of a dark room straight at Kreyul.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: "Please put the bunny down, and take me instead." Who would've thought a random sentence streaming through Emai's head in chapter three would foreshadow Kidus' first episode?
  • The Chess Master: From the moment Emai and Kreyul were transported into the Exchange, Phirre manipulated them into helping him escape Nightmare Factory.
  • Creator Cameo: Snailords pops up here and there, sometimes as a snail, sometimes human (in Breaking the Fourth Wall moments,) but mostly through words, such as graffiti or signs.
  • Creepy Child: Kidus and Little Miss.
  • Crossover: In bonus episodes, there have been cameos from characters from other Webtoons, such as Saphie from Saphie The One Eyed Cat, Shen from Bluechair, and Nana from Four Quarters.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Kreyul has blue, Kissae has red, and Kidus has white.
  • Cool Big Sis: Kreyul's older sister is very supportive and helpful to him, and in the past, when he first discovered his teleporting powers, she tried to help in any way she could.
  • Curtains Match The Windows: Kreyul has blue hair and blue eyes.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Any arcs that focus on Phirre or Kidus and their stories.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Practically everyone has shades of this.
  • Dramatis Personae: In a reply to a top comment, the character name pronunciations were given.
  • Driven to Suicide: Phirre, despite his claims that he isn't really suicidal. He just wants to die temporarily so he can meet up with a Hell Messenger, who he believes can help him escape the Nightmare Exchange.
  • Driving Question: What is Emai's true identity?
  • Dysfunction Junction
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first two chapters have nothing to do with the rest of the story. They make much more sense when you realize that they’re the stories written by Emai, who’s an author who writes about Kreyul’s adventures.
  • Exact Words: How Kissae gets all of Phirre's riddles wrong. Each of his riddles ended with "Can you answer this question?
  • Eye Scream: Kidus gets stabbed in the eye. However, as a siren, his self defense mechanism causes him to be unable to feel anything.
  • The Faceless: Phirre until "Hello, Prince." Little Miss can count too, as she has Rapunzel Hair that hides her face.
  • Fan Disservice: We see Phirre shirtless exactly once. That is during a flashback, and right before we see him cut open his own throat, with a lot of green blood spurting out of the wound.
  • Fangirl: Emai's initial reaction to Kreyul.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Happens too many times to count. Chances are, if there’s a suspenseful scene or a lot of tension, it’ll turn out to be this.
  • Fairytale Motifs: There’s an arc called “Princess and the Spider." Emai is the titular "Princess," and is called that a lot by Phirre who also called Ylantis that. The chapter titles also refer to Phirre as “Prince" once.
  • Female Gaze: The majority amount of characters are very attractive men. Kreyul in particular gets a lot of Female Gaze with his amount of shirtless scenes.
  • Fictional Document: Emai's collection of the stories she wrote.
  • Fingore: Both Emai and Kreyul get stabbed in the hands in early chapters.
  • Foreshadowing: There's so much of this.
    • There's a lot to suggest that the young rape victim Kreyul saves isn't real. There were multiple sources of light, but he had only one shadow. His wounds also vanished momentarily.
    • Why would Phirre allow Emai to even come near him, despite knowing she's a body manipulator who could kill him easily? Because he wants to die and meet a Hell Messenger who could get him out of the exchange.
    • Not to mention the tons of foreshadowing suggesting Emai's true identity to possibly be Ylantis. They’re both writers, have body manipulation abilities, self harm, express their emotions unhealthily, have braided hair in different ways, and have the same catchphrase.
  • The Gadfly: Emai's sense of humor has shades of this.
  • Genre Roulette: Switches from fantasy to comedy to horror pretty easily, sometimes all in the same episode.
  • Gorn: There’s enough of this to justify it being in the thriller section, despite having a more fantasy and comedic vibe.
  • Healing Hands: Part of Emai's powers as a body manipulator.
  • Held Gaze: A non romantic variant (possibly) between Emai and Phirre. It was effective enough to trick many readers into thinking they may have been about to kiss... Right before Emai rips out his heart to kill him.
    • An earlier one is between Emai and Kreyul, right after they agree to stay in the Exchange to help each other win.
  • Hope Spot: Kreyul is able to save the rape victim. Too bad the townsfolk are able to track them down and kill him anyway.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: After they escape from the Exchange and Emai’s family disappears she goes to live with Kreyul and Seppi.
  • Insistent Terminology: Phirre isn't suicidal, he just kills himself...a lot.
  • It's Personal: Emai is determined to kill Phirre because of her being stuck in the Exchange, and after he ticks her off one too many times.
  • Kill the Cutie: The sexual assault victim Kreyul saves is shot in front of him. What makes it worse is even though he was just an image created by Nightmare Factory, he was based off a real boy who was stoned to death.
  • Left Hanging: Because of the indefinite hiatus, there are a ton of questions that don't have answers. Such as: What happened to Ylantis, and if Emai truly is her, how? What’s up with Emai’s vision of her death? Did Kreyul write the note that was found in one of Emai’s notebooks that read “I love you”? If he did, who was it for, and why?
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: First we have Kreyul and Emai, our protagonists. Then Phirre, who's The Heavy. Other major characters are Kissae and Kidus, and minor characters include Seppi, Little Miss, and Ylantis, who may just be Emai's true identity.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Averted with Kreyul. His teleportation abilities and his drawings are explained in detail. Played straight with Emai's body manipulation abilities. They're shown multiple times, but never fully explained.
  • Magically Binding Contract: Although it’s not fully explained, Phirre all but says this is why he’s the Game Master against his will.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Emai gets injured terribly on numerous occasions, but due to her being a body manipulator, she heals quickly. Yet even her worst injuries (the kinds that take days to heal) she takes in stride.
  • Male Gaze: Emai is a very attractive woman, and she’s in a revealing outfit for the majority of the series.
  • Meaningful Name: Phirre's name is pronounced as "Fee-Air." It's a play on words on the word fear.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Emai is more willing to injure or kill in very violent ways than Kreyul, who coughs up blood at the thought of violence. He prefers to use trickery.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: There's a lot of profanity, but it's filtered by either symbols replacing letters or characters saying phrases differently.
  • No Social Skills: Emai isn't good with people. Kreyul notes most of answers to questions are either yes or no, even a question regarding her age!
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Ylantis.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Phirre, due to being a Game Master and a siren.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Kidus has red eyes, and is a serial killer.
  • Scenery Porn: There is as much detail on the sets and backgrounds as there are on characters. We get some stunning backdrops.
  • Ship Tease: So much. First, there's Emai and Kreyul, then Emai and Phirre, and Kreyul and Kissae, for starters.
    • For Emai X Kreyul, they progressively get closer and closer throughout the series. They have the closest relationship so far, except for maybe Kreyul and Seppi. They also have the most screen time, and Kreyul is one of the few people who doesn't trigger Emai’s touch aversion. He also strips and twerks to cheer her up when she is feeling especially depressed after being unable to find her dad or brother.
    • For Emai X Phirre, they have only had one scene together so far, but it was interesting, with a lot of mind games. Plus, there were those few shots where, judging by the position, you almost expected a kiss... The fact that Emai has turned out to be Ylantis, or Phirre’s soul mate, doesn’t help.
    • For Kreyul X Kissae, they're also close and have known each other a while, although Kissae tends to be a bit of a Tsundere. And then whenever Kissae pretends to not understand humans, Kreyul does kiss them to try to get them to admit they understand human behavior.
  • Shirtless Scene: Kreyul has several.
  • Shout-Out: To Naruto and YuYu Hakusho in the first episode.
    • Emai transporting to Kreyul and Seppi's dimension is a clear shoutout to The Ring.
  • Snow Means Death: The boy Kreyul saves is shot and killed as it's snowing. It's a good thing he wasn't real.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Implied to be the case with Phirre and Ylantis, although whether they were actually a couple at one point is unknown, as is her fate.
  • Stepford Smiler: Emai can control her tear ducts because of her body manipulation abilities, and refuses to cry in front of others.
  • Take a Third Option: Kreyul and Emai are told they have to kill Seppi’s dog, Bitey. But Emai is able to use her body manipulation abilities with him, and is able to have Bitey play dead, since Phirre never specified the dog had to die, only that it had to be killed.
  • Teleport Spam: One of Kreyul’s powers. He can transport people to him and to other locations with his drawings.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Kreyul’s is boba tea.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 25. Almost nobody expected for Emai to seemingly kill Phirre, and for her and Kreyul to escape the Nightmare Exchange so early in the series.
  • Wham Line: Kreyul delivers one concerning Emai’s true identity.
    Kreyul: “I do believe that you and Ylantis are the same person, Emai.”
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Kreyul's eyes (especially their color) are pointed out on occasion. Just not by Emai, as she hates blue.
  • White Shirt of Death: Kidus wears a white shirt, and is a murderer.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The episodes explaining that Phirre and Kidus are adopted brothers.
  • World of Snark: Practically every character snarks at a point.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Kreyul is this trope, as he literally has blue hair. Emai also has pink hair.
  • Your Magic Is No Good Here: Phirre manipulates things so that Kreyul’s teleportation abilities are very limited, or completely restricted.
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