Night Trap is arguably one of the most important games of all time. While in the current day, the title just seems like some quaint attempt to prove that interactive films could work, anyone who was around in 1992 could tell you otherwise. Not only was it a launch title for the oft-maligned yet incredibly influential Sega CD, it also nearly singlehandedly created the ESRB and the FMV craze of the mid-90s. Twenty-five years out from release, the title has been remastered for the current generation of consoles. Does it hold up, or does it just suck? Pun somewhat intended.
Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: Screaming Villains
Developer: Screaming Villains
Platform: PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One (Reviewed on PS4)
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Because of the nature of Night Trap‘s gameplay, the game’s ultimate visual quality revolves around the source material used for the footage. While all of the game’s scenes were filmed in 1987 on 35mm film, the original film apparently could not be used. Because of this, the developer instead inserted the scenes from the director’s own copy of the master tapes. While the footage isn’t HD, it still, for the most part, looks nice on a TV.
However, the tape isn’t perfect: it’s seen some damage over the years and is actually missing a few scenes from other versions of the game. The tape damage isn’t that big of an issue, since it’s not very prevalent and can somewhat help immerse you in the concept of you watching a ton of twenty-five plus year old CCTV footage. The missing scenes can be a bit jarring, however, since they use footage ripped from the 3DO version.
While it was the highest resolution release before now, it’s still extremely compressed footage from a mid-90s FMV game. Speaking of old 90s CD consoles, this version includes four different UIs for the game. The default one, which presents the footage in an uncropped 4:3 aspect ratio, and the three other UIs used for the Sega CD, 3D0, and MS-DOS releases. While they crop the image just like their original versions, they all have their own charm to them, especially the Sega CD one.
While Night Trap technically has gameplay, remember that this game is a FMV game from before FMV games even became a thing. All you do in Night Trap is check on eight cameras and activate traps to capture Augers, weird pseudo-vampires who walk like a geriatric gorilla.
Sometimes a security access code changes, but then you just listen in on what it’s changing to on the feeds and change it to the correct color so you can continue to capture Augers. While it sounds extremely boring, Night Trap is a game that requires your undivided attention at all times.
Within two minutes, ten augers would have appeared out of the game’s ultimate total of one hundred. Throughout each game’s total runtime of about thirty minutes, you’ll be juggling between trying to learn more about the game’s story and making you don’t miss enough Augers to get a game over.
Getting a perfect run legitimately took me almost three weeks to complete, and it most definitely wasn’t a walk in the park.
This new version does, however, change up the formula in some pretty influential ways from the original versions. First, the game features four new scenes, including the game’s original intro. While only a couple of them are truly substantial, they still should be enough to throw off fans of the original.
Second, the UI now shows live camera feeds of static room icons. While you can still only listen in on one at a time, it still gives you a quick chance to figure out what room you should be looking in before you miss an Auger. This can be turned off for purists, but you should probably keep it on for your first run.
Third, Theater Mode unlocks after your first completion of the game. After that, every story scene you even partially see in your replays can be watched in their entirety from the extras menu. Not only does it give an easier way to follow the game’s plot, it also lets you focus more on the Augers in perfect run attempts, since you won’t have to worry about missing the plot. Finally, an endless mode is added, letting you play Night Trap as long as you can, scoreboards included.
The biggest draw to this new version, however, is its large amount of bonus content. From when you first start the game, you get access to Dangerous Games, the making-of documentary of the game including with the original PC version, and an interview with the game’s director, James Riley.
As you progress, you slowly get access to more, such as behind the scenes production pictures, the complete timeline of the game’s plot, and, finally, The Scene of the Crime, Night Trap‘s mid-80s prototype. These extras genuinely give an interesting in-depth look at not only the game’s seven-plus year development but its eventual controversy during the 1993 Senate hearings.
While it’s hard to completely grasp at first, Night Trap‘s plot is pretty simple. You play as a member of S.C.A.T. (tee-hee), or the Special Control Attack Team. You’ve been tasked with monitoring undercover agent Kelly (played by the late Dana Plato) and the group of teenagers that came with her using the house’s elaborate, trap-laden security system.
Things quickly go awry when the Augers appear, so you have to make sure Kelly and the others stay safe long enough for the rest of S.C.A.T. to arrive on the scene and figure out who the owners are and they relate to the Augers.
It’s cheesy in classic B-Movie fashion, with ridiculous death scenes, bad effects, and even a musical number. If that isn’t your thing, then you probably won’t find much enjoyment with the game. If it is, it’s a pretty good time.
Audio isn’t much to write home about. The acting, for the most part, is fine, especially considering the lack of talent involved and the game’s B-Movie nature. In fact, the theme song for the game is actually pretty catchy, and the music that plays when Augers appear on camera walks the fine line between anxiousness and hilarity.
The only real issue comes when code changes happen in-game. While I understand that the codes needed to be randomized for each playthrough, and they probably couldn’t do much back in 1992, the sharp audio difference when someone says the new code is quite jarring nonetheless.
Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition may not be a game you enjoy, but it’s still a game worth your time. Even if copious levels of late 80s and FMV cheese aren’t your thing, the game’s cheap and includes plenty of bonuses that give a much deeper appreciation of this controversial classic.
Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition was reviewed on PS4 using a review copy purchased by the reviewer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 8.5
- The master tapes make the game look miles better than it ever did in the 90s
- Doesn’t take itself too seriously
- Added deleted scenes change up the experience
- The bonus material included with the game gives a great insight into the game’s development and impact
- The game’s B-movie qualities are an acquired taste
- Gameplay can get tedious and repetitive at times
- The switch between master footage and audio to another source can be very jarring