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The game begins with the player character returning to his home village after receiving a letter from his father, the local pastor. Upon arriving, however, he finds the townsfolk are strangely hostile, and his father has simply vanished. He has to unravel the village’s secret, find his father, and bring an end to his personal nightmare.
The actual game consists of exploring the village, gathering items so you can use them somewhere else, and interrogating people for hints and solutions. In order to finish your quest, you have to find the local “bad people” (manual’s words, people) and turn them in to the police. You also have to deal with three supernatural horrors (a vampire, a witch, and a hellhound), and finally deal with the Devil. (It would be a spoiler, except the intro pretty much gives it all away.)
The actual gameplay is noticeably different from Horrosoft’s later titles. For starters, it’s a combination of a parser and a mouse, in all that entails. It also runs on a timer; if you’re not in the right spot at the right time, or forget to grab something before a specific point, you’re screwed. (Later titles forgo the timer in favor of simply blocking access back.) This can make for a very frustrating experience, especially given the sheer number of things you have to do in each game day. There are also no RPG Elements; this is an Adventure Game through and through.
The DOS version is available from Good Old Games. The Amiga version sports far superior graphics and sound, although both games are fairly identical. Unlike the Elvira/Waxworks games, Personal Nightmare has never been rereleased in any actual bundle.
This Game Contains Examples Of:
- A Winner Is You: You banish the forces of darkness forever... Or have you?
- Anticlimax Boss: You finally reach the Devil, and he goes down with one vial of holy water.
- Conspicuously Light Patch: In one house, there's a part of the wall that is obviously lighter than everything else. Taking the hammer to it reveals a body interred inside.
- Guide Dang It: Figuring out the exact sequence of events either requires a walkthrough, or a lot of playthroughs.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Mason tries to run you down, only to crash into a tree and die.
- Human Sacrifice
- In Universe Game Clock
- Inventory Management Puzzle: You can only carry a limited amount of items. A suitcase gives you some extra room, but you can't simply select an item that's currently inside the case without taking the time to manually open/select it. You can also store items in your wardrobe at the inn, but it's a good idea to close and lock it while you're away.
- Kill It with Water: How you escape the witch.
- NPC Scheduling: Finding or avoiding NPCs relies heavily upon this.
- Police Are Useless: Averted. The only way to get rid of the “bad people” (besides the supernatural ones), is to bring evidence to the local police.
- Spoiler Opening: The opening sequence shows a preacher being struck by lightning, followed by Evil Laughter before the Devil emerges from the flames.
- The Many Deaths of You: Not as many as usual, but still plenty for what you’re dealing with.
- Town with a Dark Secret
- Trial and Error Gameplay
- Unwinnable by Design: Screw the devil; this game will be your personal nightmare.
- We Need to Get Proof: The police can't arrest anyone without the evidence you bring them.