Discover the evil at work in the heart of this super creepy adventure.
You’re searching for your lone surviving family member, your grandpa Charles, whose last known location was the titular hospital in Nightfall Mysteries: Asylum Conspiracy, located on a remote island. You have no idea where he might be, but you’re determined to find him no matter the risk – and there is plenty of risk.
For an abandoned hospital, there sure are a lot of people running around Ashburg Asylum’s halls. There’s a patient whose rants may hold the clue to your grandfather’s fate, a brother and sister that seem oddly familiar, a cop supposedly looking for some answers about his wife’s death, and a mysterious doctor who oozes malice. All of them hold some piece of the puzzle, though none of them are quite what they seem.
Your search for your grandpa will take you all over the asylum and its surroundings as you collect the bits and pieces you need to press ever forward. Each object search will yield an inventory item that you’ll use to overcome an obstacle like a locked door or a broken electrical system. The searches are beautifully done, but unfortunately somewhat repetitious. You’ll have to revisit some locations more than once, and often wind up looking for the exact same items, which are in the exact same spots.
Having extra searches should in theory make the game longer, but by the later stages of the game, you’ll be so familiar with the hidden object areas that you’ll tear through the item searches in mere seconds. Even when they’re not copies of previous levels, the item searches aren’t ever really all that difficult. It’s not as big a failing as it could be, though; the story of Asylum Conspiracy is so good that you won’t mind quick object search levels if the payoff is finding out what happens next.
Asylum Conspiracy makes a great effort to make its puzzles creative and interesting, while also making them (somewhat) make sense in the setting. It’s no great surprise that you’d need an ID badge to get into a hospital pharmacy, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll guess the security guard’s password after just a few letters. Some of the puzzles definitely work better than others – the anatomy jigsaw was a bit trying and a puzzle to unlock a demon door was innovative, but frustrating – but you can skip anything that doesn’t intrigue you enough to struggle through it. Your notebook is a great source of information, not only giving you hints for how to tackle challenges, but also pointing you toward the room you need to visit next.
The asylum is exactly what you’d expect from a long-abandoned mental ward: creepy, dilapidated, broken, and unsettling – a great backdrop for the story that takes some pleasantly unexpected turns. The game even provides some genuine B-movie scares as characters turn up unexpectedly at precisely the wrong moment. The voice acting is, for the most part, extremely well done, and while the characters are cribbed from Horror Movie 101, it’s hard to care when they’re clearly having a lot of fun putting on the creep show. Fifteen audio tapes are hidden throughout the game that do a marvelous job of fleshing out the backstory. You don’t have to find them in order to finish, but they add a great deal to the atmosphere of dread and menace, as well as filling in some of the blanks left by your investigation.
Asylum Conspiracy is a wonderfully spooky mystery with over-the-top characters and a great aesthetic. If it weren’t for the endless backtracking – really, hitting the back arrow twelve times to get from one room to the next is not a recipe for fun – and the deja vu of some of the searches, it would pretty much be a perfect experience. As it is, it’s merely fantastic. One final note: players of Curse of the Opera, the previous Nightfall Mysteries game, will get a real chuckle out of Asylum Conspiracy‘s ending.