The Nightjar ($3.99) is a fantastic fabrication of horror, creating a vision of terror from the wonderful and disturbed recesses of the subconscious. Your eyes are rendered useless and your ears become sight. Focusing on finite and nearly faint ‘beeps’ of access panels to exit doors, the paces of creatures, and the echoes of a dead and void space station made my body have claustrophobic reactions and my thoughts feel with the dread of a disgustingly loud and crunchy demise. As Somethin’ Else’s spiritual successor to Papa Sangre ($4.99), The Nightjar is impressive in design and even more in the execution of an auditory warp into darkness.
Left behind to survive on the derelict spacecraft, your goal is to escape its metallic remains. Nightjar has a unique pacing that immediately builds tension as you internally battle the ship’s on-board computer (an eerie homage to ‘Mother’ from Alien) and your guide (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Each contradicts the other, making trust rest with the voice that saves you from the most recent dire circumstance. Sound becomes equal parts enemy and ally.
The controls are minimal using two light bridges expressing your steps and a rotating dial as your compass. As my brain rewired and adjusted to not using the sense of sight, I failed a small number of early acts before I confidently connected to the UI. Nightjar‘s refinement is displayed when the controls are synchronized with 3D audio from the Papa Engine. As direction is navigated by sounds, going towards something perceived as awful is often done. However, the closer to danger one may come, also yields the true path to your exit as a new sound may be introduced, better defining the correct direction. This made me move with purpose, but not too fast, as every step is wonderfully pivotal by syncing ambience to situational awareness. Utilizing the instructions of the ubiquitous guide, I filtered my projected madness from the atmosphere, and eventually, pinpointing the lifesaving “ding”.
If a deadly apparition feels like its nipping at your feet, it is. Crystal-clear is every sound and yet, The Nightjar often placed my bravery into question as I continually second-guessed myself in moments that needed complete poise and some common sense. When watching a horror-flick, common sense can be constantly absent as supporting characters are either too patient or overly edgy at the incorrect moment. The Nightjar gives you a construct but it doesn’t necessarily have to be obeyed. When death is close, there is no shame in running; or if the exit appears to be near a threat, trying another approach may prove better.
Though a short experience, besting 2 hours, there are several challenging stages in Nightjar‘s second half that can surely extend your length of play. Coupled with a few generic twists, there’s enough variance in the plot to see The Nightjar through to completion. It is a fresh survival horror app that will test your nerve and synesthesia while leaving a strong sense of fulfillment. The Nightjar is a definite bird to catch so check out our forums and see what the community is saying about the experience.