Blame Limbo. The classic platformer may have provided one of the most immersive experiences in gaming, but its simple, silhouetted art style has also given rise to a few budget copycats: Darkland II, A Walk in the Dark and Toby: The Secret Mine are just the first that come to mind.

Carrying on the tradition is Richy’s Nightmares. Richy could be a brother to the boy from Limbo, as he looks so similar. The only difference is an unblinking stare that looks like someone glued on some googly eyes. The screenshots don’t really do them justice: we didn’t know whether to laugh or be intensely creeped out. 

richys nightmares review 1

The story of Richy’s Nightmares is presented as two screens full of text at the start of the game. It’s a poorly translated mush, and we found ourselves lapsing into a catatonic state as we read them. Which is appropriate, because – we think – Richy’s Nightmares is about a young lad who is lost in some pretty horrific recurring nightmares. 

Things are at least appropriately moody. A large proportion of the screen is framed with darkness, and the lights are dimmed enough that – in some sequences – you can barely pick out Richy. Each of the five levels has a different colour scheme, as if someone switched out the lightbulb. For a budget game, Richy’s Nightmares is effective if sparse, and it does a good job of putting you on edge. 

This isn’t a true adventure in the Limbo or Inside template: there are no characters to encounter (outside of an evil little dude who lays the occasional trap), and no set-pieces. It’s more of a traditional platform-puzzler that could have been numbered levels accessed from a menu. So, if you’re hoping for a progressing narrative, you’re not going to get it from Richy’s Nightmares. 

What you’re getting instead is a few different puzzle frameworks. There’s the traditional platforming, which makes up the majority of Richy’s Nightmares. You will be asked to hop, skip and jump over platforms, almost always with a carpet of spikes, flames or electricity to add a bit of tension. The platforms might rise, fall or wobble, so it’s about timing and carefully dealing with the physics of those objects. 

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These sections are unutterably horrible. We’d have preferred to do it in person with Lego in our shoes. It’s not because these sequences are naturally difficult: the platforming would have been an absolute breeze if the main character was Mario or Sonic. But Richy has the laggiest, most inconsistent jump in living memory. You’re jamming the button hard and early in the hope that he will leave a platform with a large enough leap to reach the next one. But about fifty-percent of the time he won’t bother, his knees giving out as he tumbles head-first into a spike. Then it’s back to a poorly placed checkpoint to do it all over again. 

Richy’s Nightmares loves these sections, and wants you to do them on falling platforms, boxes that dunk into the sea, and pillars that lean and sway. But the jumping is nowhere near good enough to justify the extra difficulty, so we died, over and over. All the while, Richy is staring at us with his psychotic googly eyes, presumably wondering why we weren’t jumping out of the way of spinning blades. We were wondering the same thing, Richy. 

Another oddity to Richy’s Nightmares is that some platforms don’t look like platforms at all. It has a habit of putting fuzzy trees in the foreground, as if they’re too close to the camera to focus on. You’d think, then, that you wouldn’t be able to jump on their branches, but no: Richy’s Nightmares absolutely wants you to use them as a leg-up to other platforms. It makes no sense, and was the cause of lots of cursing in the opening sections. To add insult to injury, some branches can’t be jumped on, sending you tumbling to the floor, and there is no consistency. We wanted to give Faith from Mirror’s Edge a call and ask her to paint red lines on everything jumpable. 

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Beyond the jumping which, if you can’t tell, we didn’t like all that much, is the puzzling. Richy’s Nightmares loves a box to push. Occasionally the box turns into a minecart or a dino skull, but you get the idea. When Richy’s Nightmares puts on its puzzle hat, things do improve a little. You are pushing blocks to protect yourself from spinning blades, or to reach the odd lever on a high ledge. Some of the designs are benign and obvious; other times they create a moment’s confusion before you solve them.

But they’re not immune to criticism. Richy’s Nightmares loves to put a block a long, long way from its puzzle. So, you’re pushing it for thirty seconds before you even get to the switch it needs to go on. It’s bemusing, particularly if you die and have to do it all over again. Even more befuddling is that checkpoints will often be past the block you need for a puzzle, so you have to backtrack to get it. 

Which brings us to the bugs, and there’s an unhealthy number of them. Perhaps it was to be expected, as Richy’s Nightmares is a budget game that dives into the world of physics-based objects, which was never going to be a good mix. We’ve had the joy of jumping into moving minecarts only to be thrown halfway across the level. We’ve found a tiny gap between objects and fallen through the level. We’ve tried to push levers that wouldn’t budge, and climb boxes that wouldn’t let us climb them. Credit to Richy’s Nightmare, you never know what’s going to happen next.

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There is clearly a lot of love in Richy’s Nightmares. The puzzles in particular have been painstakingly constructed, and – occasionally – they come together to create some satisfying ‘eureka’ moments. If you were to draw the levels on paper, you’d probably nod your head and say they weren’t all that bad. 

But the devil is in the execution. The rest of Richy’s Nightmares is, appropriately, a nightmare. We challenge you to master or even enjoy its scrappy jumping. The physics, bugs and laggy leaping make this less a limbo, and more a straight-up platforming hell. 

You can buy Richy’s Nightmares from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

Blame Limbo. The classic platformer may have provided one of the most immersive experiences in gaming, but its simple, silhouetted art style has also given rise to a few budget copycats: Darkland II, A Walk in the Dark and Toby: The Secret Mine are just the first that come to mind. Carrying on the tradition is Richy’s Nightmares. Richy could be a brother to the boy from Limbo, as he looks so similar. The only difference is an unblinking stare that looks like someone glued on some googly eyes. The screenshots don’t really do them justice: we didn’t know whether…

Pros:

  • Neatly atmospheric
  • Some intricate and well-made puzzles

Cons:

  • Oof, the laggy jumping is awful
  • Extremely buggy
  • Some bonkers design quirks
  • Little variety between the levels

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - ChiliDog Interactive
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 23 Mar 2022
  • Launch price from - £4.19
TXH Score

2/5

Pros:

  • Neatly atmospheric
  • Some intricate and well-made puzzles

Cons:

  • Oof, the laggy jumping is awful
  • Extremely buggy
  • Some bonkers design quirks
  • Little variety between the levels

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - ChiliDog Interactive
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
  • Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 23 Mar 2022
  • Launch price from - £4.19

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