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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, 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.
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Warning: You must have Half Life 2: Episode 2 installed in order to run it.
- Abandoned Hospital: Setting of the second game.
- Anti-Villain: Emily in the second game.
- An Axe to Grind: The first weapon the player gets in either game is an axe.
- 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.
- 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, 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Haunted House: Setting of the first game.
- Heroic Mime: The player character never speaks, or even make any sound at all.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Hang on, isn't the bland intercom voice the exact same one from Penumbra? She even stops acting like in Requiem!
- 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 uses 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 were gesturing you the way to go just moment ago.
- Puzzle Boss: The Core. You have to break the fragile wood planks supporting it.
- Random Event:
- HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME.
- "We would like to notify you. SOMETHING IS 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 got his shotgun and try the same, nope, doesn't work.
- 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".
- Romero quotes Portal and Bioshock when you fight him.
- The aforementioned scene involving the SWAT gesturing for you to flip a switch and open the door is visually similar to Cryostasis where a man apparently trapped in an elevator shaft bangs on the glass of the control booth and points to the controls just below him.
- The hallway full of shadow people is a reference to a similar sequence in Metro 2033.
- Similarly, the mannequin sequence refers to the ones in Condemned.
- The music video easter egg is a parody of this video by Weebl.
- A special guest star appears in one of the Easter Eggs. It's Uboa.
- The bloody hospital hallways scenes are a dead match to similar scenes in F.E.A.R.... although they sometimes end differently than expected.
- In another shoutout to F.E.A.R, the player must go into a security room to open the elevator. Emily appears outside, watching him through the glass. When he leaves the room, she's gone.
- Signs of Disrepair: If you take a look at the sign for the hospital in the Nonstandard Game Over, it's "Never Hope" Hospital.
- Shmuck Bait: Occasionally, your subsitles 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 hallucination 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.
- 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 Rerelease: 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.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Happened in the second game. The zombies in the first game are likely just hallucations induced by Emily.