Entering the mind of a troubled person seems more terrifying than any video game could possibly capture. That didn’t stop developer Flying Mollusk from trying with the recently released game, Nevermind. You play a futuristic neuroprober whose job is to venture into the minds of clients who have endured traumatic experiences. This is all done through computers and a portal which seemingly places you inside their heads. Played through a first-person viewpoint, the game is a “walking simulator” with plenty of psychological horror weaved in.
Throughout Nevermind you will venture into the consciousness of five different clients, each dealing with their own personal demons. I won’t spoil too much for you, but some topics you come across are: gender identity, substance abuse and parenting, among others. Every setting is unique, some more than others; and while they may start out normal looking, they always take a turn for the creepy. Before each level you are given an introduction about the client, a brief backstory about their lives. The main goal is to collect 10 photos (always of crucial times in their lives) and place them in the correct order before completing the session. Once you have completed a level you can replay it in advanced mode to search for memories, which are the game’s collectables. After completing 5 sessions and gathering all memories, there are a few sim levels you can explore like a deserted island, but they just seem like leftovers from the PC version of the game.
This is the perfect time to mention that unlike the PC and Mac versions of the game, both Xbox and PS4 versions of Nevermind do not support biofeedback. What does that mean? Biofeedback in Nevermind meant the game can read physiological responses, interpret emotional responses, and track eye movement. Again, the Nevermind PR team wanted me to make sure everyone knew not to expect these things in the console version. Disappointing, but understandable.
Controls are simple and work well, requiring the player to only move, interact and sometimes place objects. I do wish there was an option to sprint as movement is a tad too slow. Graphically the game has a realistic style that really is a mixed bag. Certain areas like the intro garden and alien level look beautiful. Others like the music hall and city just look okay. I wish levels loaded faster and the menu navigation was very difficult for me. Countless times I thought I was loading my game and it would load a new game. When you highlight a choice the color difference is so subtle that I countlessly chose the wrong options.
After seeing all Nevermind offers, is it actually scary? Not really. There aren’t many jump scares or enemies that can kill you. Instead the game uses changing environments and eerie sounds to try and make you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to pay attention to all the subtle clues around the level, because the average player will get stuck often. I can picture many people getting stuck looking for these clues and turning to online walkthroughs.
Nevermind is a game unlike any I have ever played before and one that is worth experiencing. I would have preferred it to be much scarier than it is, perhaps turning to cult classic Eternal Darkness for inspiration. Once you complete the five missions there isn’t much incentive to collect all the memories, aside from achievements/trophies. The game is also a bit pricey at $19.99 USD, which may turn some off. Even though I didn’t get scared, I never knew what to expect when probing the mind of the next patient. If you are up for trying something new and have some extra cash, Nevermind will definitely get you thinking.