Nightmare House 2 is a mod for Half-Life 2 Episode 2, developed by a team headed by Hen Mazolski. In case you are not a PC gamer, a mod is when the game’s engine is used to create a whole new game, or additions to the original game. This game is free to download but the catch is you need to own Half-Life 2 Episode 2. Luckily it’s usually very cheap to pick up on Steam.

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Nightmare House 2 is a first-person shooter survival horror game. You start the game by playing the prologue, which is Nightmare House 1. Your car breaks down in front of an old mansion, so obviously the rational next step is to break into this house. The prologue on its own is a great game, immediately throwing you into a terrifying environment of flickering lights, dark hallways, and creepy music. It breaks the trend of recent horror games with the addition of weapons, but don’t be fooled: you aren’t any safer. You start with only an axe but quickly progress to pistols and shotguns. The game includes a flashlight that slowly dies while it’s on, which adds to the atmosphere of the game. However, I personally found that when you turn it off it recharges so quickly that there’s no real suspense added to the game. The setting of Nightmare House 2 is a continuation of the prologue, after being taken to an asylum following the events of the prologue.

Now I’m perfectly aware that the haunted, abandoned hospital is a horror cliché, but this game does an excellent job of still making it absolutely terrifying. You can immediately tell much more time went into Nightmare House 2 than its predecessor with improved graphics, dialogue, puzzles, and allies. The main portion of the game consists of escaping your cell in the asylum to find it abandoned and an impression that something terribly wrong happened there before you woke up. As you work your way through the winding, dimly lit hallways of the asylum it becomes very apparent that the edges of reality are no longer clearly defined. Your character frequently enters terrifyingly vivid hallucinations of bloody hallways and rooms with the walls closing in. You are aided by a scientist giving you instructions through various televisions placed in the hospital and by SWAT team members who enter the hospital later in the game. The combination of your character fighting off insanity, zombies, and avoiding a ghost of a woman who appears to enjoy terrifying you makes the game quite memorable. This especially rings true when you try to sleep after playing.

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This game really shines with its unique scare tactics, hallucinations, creepy mannequins, dark vents, and an entire section where you are left to fend for yourself with a broken flashlight. The variety keeps it so that you never know what to expect and that only adds to the absolute terror of this game. I definitely recommend Nightmare House 2 to anyone who enjoys the horror genre, and I think it’s even worth the purchase of Half-Life 2 Episode 2.  It’s definitely one of the scarier games out there, until the final boss. I don’t want to spoil anything but the final boss fight just becomes ridiculous and almost ruins the feeling the game has been going for, but you can decide that for yourself. Guaranteed to give you chills, even on the second play through and as it is free to download, Nightmare House 2 makes it on my must-play list for any horror lover.

-Crake