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Personal Nightmare

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Released: 1989

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Amiga 500

Publisher: Accolade

Developer: Horrorsoft

Submitted by: Rob Roemer

The storyline was a cracker : A sleepy little village is gradually being taken over by the devil himself via means of possession and utilising those already possessed to find innocents to sacrifice at midnight rituals, or flat out kill in pretty much any manner fancied. Your father, the local vicar, has mysteriously disappeared and your mother has sent you a letter out of the blue inviting you to stay the weekend, but she too is strangely not to be found. Your must defeat the power of the devil by identifying to the local constabulary evidence of crimes committed by residents already affected and have them arrested, and rid the village of your birthright of total demonic oppression as well as locate the whereabouts of your missing parents. Heady stuff indeed for 1989! This was one game I found so intriguing that I decided I would finish it even if it took me 20 years. To which it then duly did.

Initially entitled "Elvira's HorrorSoft: A Personal Nightmare", the game itself actually had very little to do with her, and later versions were sold simply as "Personal Nightmare". A classic adventure at heart, the game can be played by either keyboard or mouse, or both, and gameplay consists of exploring the village, gathering items to utilise or collect as evidence, and interrogating residents for hints. The game boasts impressive, digitised graphics (taken from a real nearby village), realistic animation and digitised sound, and when combined with an active, timed world creates a genuinely creepy atmosphere hitherto not experienced in adventures.

The one thing holding this back from being a classic for me is the game's level of difficulty. It's brutal. They eased up in later versions making it so you only got garrotted once every five minutes or so as opposed to say, two, but even that did little to help matters. This game will test you to your limits even with a walkthrough, and if you had a fear of death prior to playing this game you most certainly wont afterwards, as you will die so many times in so many different ways that by the end you'll have probably just about come to the end of your life/death cycle and reached nirvana itself. But having said that… I am glad I finished it. Even if it did indeed take half a lifetime.