Search for my childhood nightmares

Started by WHAM, 05 Oct 2021, 00:26

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WHAM

Back when I was a kid, maybe 6 or 7 years old, I spent some time at a daycare while my mom was at work. That daycare had some older kids, and they had a PC, and they played games on it. And I watched.

Now sure, they played cool games like Silent Hunter and Heroes of Might and Magic, and I loved those, but there is one game I remember most vividly. And here's the kicker: I have no idea what that game was. Or even if it was just one game or two. What I do recall was that it was a point and click adventure game. And I'm hoping someone might figure out what game it is and tell me so I can go back and see it with my weary adult eyes and put this bogeyman to rest.

I can recall three scenes:
- A scene based on a large boat, where the male protagonist could walk around and enter the boat. I seem to recall that the boat could be explored both externally and internally, and that the side of the boat would be cut away to reveal the interior.
- A scene in a kitchen of some sort. There was a severed head inside the fridge that freaked me the hell out.
- A scene with an NPC, most likely a cannibal of some sort. This one got to me the most. The protagonist entered through a door to find what I seem to recall a room with a bed, and atop that bed was a bloody corpse. Hunched over it, and animated in the act, was a character (I seem to recall thinking it looked like an old lady, but this might not be accurate at all) eating said corpse. This character would turn, approach and kill the player character, at which point I fled the room so I have no more details to offer.

Any ideas would be greatly welcome!
Wrongthinker and anticitizen one. Pending removal to memory hole. | WHAMGAMES proudly presents: One More Fathom!

Stupot

Can you remember anything else about the tone, graphics, style, etc?
Was is cartoony and humourous or serious and dark?
Was it 2D or 3D (or something in between)?
Was it set in the present day (or what counted as present when you were a kid)?

Mandle

The head in the fridge and the old lady eating the corpse give me major Ex Mortis vibes, and oldish horror flash point and click... about what year or decade are you talking about though?

heltenjon

The two last examples remind me of Manhunter: New York by Sierra, even though I can't remember scenes exactly like that.

milkanannan


Stupot

It certainly helps to keep a cool head.

WHAM

#6
Ah, sorry, I should have described the visual style better. This was in the days of Windows 95 and I think the visuals were going for a very realistic 2D sprite based look. It was definitely set in a modern setting, and the tone of it felt grounded, horror-oriented and serious. For the human characters at least, it might even have used digitized actors for the sprites, though my memory is a little hazy in this regard. I also THINK the game used a variable cursor type, so the cursor would cycle between modes for walking, interaction and examining things.

I think Ex Mortis is too new, and Manhunter: New York looks too old. There was definitely a player sprite on the screen for most of the gameplay, though the fridge I seem to recall being a closeup.

This is all very hazy, but the reason all of this has stuck with me is the fact I had nightmares for a solid week after that experience, so a whole load of little details, like the stilted animations of what I believe to be a cannibal character of some sort, are imprinted in my memory.

I've been digging around for old adventure games, but can't find anything that would seem to fit either the boat scene I recall, or the kitchen / cannibal scenes, though the more I think back to them, I have a feeling the boat scene might not be the same game at all. Or at least it was from a far less moody and scary part of the game, if it was the same game. There is also the added challenge that if there was any text, I was too young to know a word of english back then, so I can't say what was going on.
Wrongthinker and anticitizen one. Pending removal to memory hole. | WHAMGAMES proudly presents: One More Fathom!

Danvzare

#7
Could it perhaps be Harvester?
(Throwing in some other potential games, how about Sanitarium or Dark Earth, the latter of which is highly unlikely to be it, but also quite obscure, so who knows.)

heltenjon

Quote from: Stupot on 05 Oct 2021, 13:27
It certainly helps to keep a cool head.
(laugh) (laugh) (laugh)

I didn't get this until the second time I saw the post.

Mandle


Mandle

I remember the Friday The 13th game had some pretty disturbing digitized graphics and one was a decapitated head. I don't remember if it was in a fridge though. It may have been.

WHAM

#11
I went over screenshots of the suggested games and don't think any of these fit.
The 1989 Friday the 13th is too old and crude visually. Harvester feels a lot closer visually, but doesn't match any of my memories when it comes to the scenes, perspective etc (I watched almost the entire game played through on Youtube, though. That was... an experience.) Dark Earth looks too fantastical, as the game I recall was definitely grounded in modern reality. Sanitarium I've actually played much later, but the perspective and style is off. I am 99% sure the game I saw as a kid had a more traditional adventure game perspective with lower fixed camera angles.

EDIT: I know I'm grasping at straws in trying to find this game. I've looked at a ton of games already and none seem to match, so either this game is really obscure or my memories are too off for me to match them to an actual game. If it makes you folks feel any better: this thing has haunted me for almost 25 years now, so if you feel annoyed at trying to guess this, guess how annoyed I am with the whole thing!  :-D
Wrongthinker and anticitizen one. Pending removal to memory hole. | WHAMGAMES proudly presents: One More Fathom!

milkanannan

Could it be I have no mouth and I must scream?

milkanannan

#13
Or Personal Nightmare? Or one of the Elvira games?

Danvzare

Quote from: WHAM on 06 Oct 2021, 09:55
I know I'm grasping at straws in trying to find this game. I've looked at a ton of games already and none seem to match, so either this game is really obscure or my memories are too off for me to match them to an actual game. If it makes you folks feel any better: this thing has haunted me for almost 25 years now, so if you feel annoyed at trying to guess this, guess how annoyed I am with the whole thing!  :-D
It's not annoying. I've been trying for years to find a game that's a clone of Solomon's Key (right down to copying levels from the game), but that is made for the PC, has up to three players co-op with selectable characters, and has a level creator. But it's like the game doesn't even exist! But I know it does (and my sister remembers it too, so there's that as well)! I even remember the name, but that only yields me an unrelated DOS/Amiga game.  >:(

So here are some more possible suggestions for you:
The Rocky Horror Interactive Picture Show,
The Alone in the Dark series including Jack in the Dark,
Phantasmagoria,
Laura Bow 2: The Dagger of Amon Ra,
The made for TV movie IT (I know it's not a game, but it does have a scene with a head in a fridge).

Rincewind

I never played it myself, so I might be remembering this wrong, but isn't there a "severed head in the fridge"-scene in Police Quest: Open Season? (1993)

WHAM

#16
Quote from: Rincewind on 07 Oct 2021, 14:56
I never played it myself, so I might be remembering this wrong, but isn't there a "severed head in the fridge"-scene in Police Quest: Open Season? (1993)

I thought I knew of all the Police Quest games, played them myself, but I seem to be wrong since none of this game looked familiar. Well, at first.

THIS IS IT! This is the game! I remember that walk-to icon, and the severed head in the fridge, and the "lady" (I thought it was a scary old lady cannibal type thing) hunched over a body, turning to face the player character and I think there is even a fail state where she kills the player character. Looking at this now, it's a lot brighter and lot less scary than it was back then, but if you think about a little kid who doesn't understand the language being spoken, seeing context-free glimpses of this on a flickering CRT monitor in a darkened room, you can probably imagine how this might have had an effect.

A lot of my memories are a little off, and I think my imagination filled in a lot of stuff, much of which I must have made up during the following week of nightmares and sleepless nights. But that all makes sense now.

Based on a skimmed longplay of the game, I don't think the boat scene I remembered is in this game, but I feel like the cursors and UI icons were the same, so perhaps a different game in the series I have missed or forgotten since then.

Thank you so much for this!

Also: holy hell that is a long time for a person to be burning alive. Not sure I ever saw that bit, but if I did, that probably didn't help.
Wrongthinker and anticitizen one. Pending removal to memory hole. | WHAMGAMES proudly presents: One More Fathom!

Stupot

Well done, detective Rincewind.

I just had a look at a long play too, and I now want to play it.

WHAM

#18
It's not quite how I remember the scene, but...

A side path of the Police Quest games: Blue Force, has a scene on a boat and even a cutaway scene that shows you the interior: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb4Ydw5smt0&t=618s

(Link has timestamp)
Wrongthinker and anticitizen one. Pending removal to memory hole. | WHAMGAMES proudly presents: One More Fathom!

heltenjon

That's great! And now, let's help out Danvzare finding the Solomon's Key lookalike.  (nod)

Rincewind

Quote
THIS IS IT! This is the game!

Haha! Yay! As I said, I haven't played it (never really got into the Police Quest games) so it really was a shot in the dark! I just remember browsing through screenshots from it years ago and that particular scene with the head just stuck with me... Obviously did for you as well! Glad I could help you find your childhood nightmare, anyway.  :D

Cassiebsg

I thought it sounded like a Sierra game (with the cycling cursor), however I don't remember ever playing that game (though the graphics look awfull anyway). Nor Blue Force for that matter, and that one looks great. Need to get my hands on it now.  (laugh) The last Police quest I remember playing was 3.  (roll)
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