A Massacre of the nuns review wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the rise of VHS nostalgia. There was a golden era in the 1980s and early 1990s when video rental stores were an enticing curiosity where kids could stumble upon an R-rated hardcore horror movie, rent it, and watch it.
Everyone who grew up in those days knew that impressive cover art and high conceptual premise was the only way to a winning film. There was no internet at the time so everyone had to carry on was the premise and how sordid the coverage could be. Massacre of the nuns taps into that aesthetic and that time when you could find a transgressive slasher movie and secretly watch it when your parents weren’t around.
More than just style over substance, Massacre of the nuns is also a harrowing horror experience that borrows some elements from fan-favorite survival horror games of the 32-bit era. How does this bite-sized terror title cause dark spots? Find out in the Massacre of the nuns review!
Massacre of the nuns
Developer: Puppet Combo
Publisher: Puppet Combo
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (revised)
Release date: March 24, 2022
Fans of classic survival horror will feel right at home with Nun Massacre. The object screen is very similar to that of silent Hill on PlayStation, but with a strict limit of three items. Haggard, chunky pixelated textures and low poly count models are true to the aesthetics of 32-bit games.
The foggy, rugged cathode ray tube of CRT displays was a mainstay of the horror gaming flavor of the mid-1990s. Massacre of the nuns relish that aesthetic, as well as the sleazy slasher movies that many millennials grew up with.
This style reinforces the strangeness of the games that hit the ceiling of the polygon. In many cases, non-horror games would sometimes take on scarier characteristics due to dirty and rough image quality. Massacre of the nuns relies on the eerie atmosphere to make the simplistic gameplay utterly captivating.
Nun Massacre is an indie game created by a very small but talented group of people and the team kept the scope small to match their abilities. The premise is simple; Ms. McDonnell must solve puzzles and navigate an abandoned Catholic school while avoiding a happy killer nun.
There are no cards in the game, Mrs. McDonnell can only fit three items, and the boarding school quarters are cramped. The Nun is the only traveling threat, but she is very capable of sneakily outwitting the player. She can hide in corners, waiting for someone careless enough to get caught by her.
When players have the motion sensor, it only signals when the nun moves. It will not be detected when it is stationary. This can cause a heart-stopping moment when players open a door, where the nun reveals herself in the center of a room. Players can even look her in the eye before she charges forward, knife swinging.
Evasion is tactical cat-and-mouse style gameplay. Avoiding the nun’s line of sight and making tricks to distract the killer from his pursuit is half of Massacre of the nunsexperience. Expect to hide under beds, throw rocks, and squeeze through ventilation ducts to avoid getting cut.
The chases are thrilling and intense. The Nun moves much faster in the harder modes and also assassinates Mrs. McDonnell in fewer moves. She is also able to follow the player through tight vents and is generally persistent when chasing.
Mrs. McDonnell will not only have to deal with this horrific killer, she will also have to find a way to escape. Various esoteric items will confuse players early on and will likely get you killed. There is no way to save progress and dying costs a life, like a good old fashioned game.
Having a system of lives in a game today may seem retrograde, but it makes sense in Massacre of the nuns. The game is too short to warrant a save mechanic, and lives are a fair way to balance the difficulty. Failure Allowance is the best way to give users some leeway when faced with a game that has trial and error elements.
The level design also becomes easy to remember after multiple runs. Object locations and puzzle points become familiar and the real challenge is to play around with the nun’s AI. After many attempts, solving the game becomes easier and easier. It can take less than an hour when players know what to do.
Massacre of the nuns almost looks like an arcade game, but with less explosive visuals and in your face. Survival-horror fans will certainly appreciate what it has to offer, but don’t expect a traditional horror game. Anyone who wants something a little more substantial would be better off with Puppet Combo’s house of murder.
Massacre of the nuns definitely has the look and feel he aspires to. The game design is also laser-focused, but it has some errors. The boarding school environment is very limited with its level design and lacks variety.
Outside of the optional, secure prologue area, most of the school is made up of winding hallways or small rooms. Worse still, the frame is festooned with decorative doors that can never be opened. The idea behind fake doors in games is to suggest a larger world than it actually is, but they end up annoying and breaking immersion.
World expansion might have exceeded the scope of what Puppet Combo was capable of providing. Massacre of the nuns focuses solely on causing the player to be chased and gutted by a nun while trying to find key items. He does as well as he can, given the limitations.
For its price, Massacre of the nuns offers a proportionate amount of pleasure. Its strength is its atmosphere and the way it perfectly captures a PlayStation 1 horror game vibe. It’s also an extremely scary game that’s full of secrets and has multiple endings.
Massacre of the nuns will send shivers down your spine. Like flickering lightning from a knife, terror can be sudden and jump scares are won in this hazy, pixelated nightmare.
Nun Massacre was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Puppet Combo. You can find additional information on Niche Gamer’s Review/Ethics Policy here. Massacre of the nuns is available now for Windows PC (via itch.io), PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.