icon Author: Alexkayl
El Paso, Nightmare Review

El Paso, Nightmare works both as an appetizer for the upcoming game El Paso, Elsewhere and as a throwback to old-school shooters. You may have heard this one a lot already, with many games that sell themselves as tributes to the bygone era where Doom and Quake were all the rage. Unfortunately, there is so much to choose from nowadays that it’s hard to ignore some glaring flaws and lack of polish, despite a catchy oddball attitude and almost nonstop gameplay. El Paso, Nightmare tries hard, but like its protagonist Luis Rojas, it becomes trapped in a maze of inconsequential shooting.

The Quest for a Bucket of Ice

There’s an attempt at a story during the first moments in El Paso, Nightmare, and it turns out to be the best part of the game. As Luis Rojas, unlucky IT programmer, you grab some pills and venture out of your motel room with an empty bucket of ice. Clumsy as you are, the door closes behind you and now there’s no turning back. What seemed like a normal motel quickly turns into a multi-dimensional hub of nightmares, as you stealthily try to avoid monstrous creatures, pick up hearts to open doors – because reasons – and outrun bloodthirsty demonic knights.

This first section is stealth-based, with no weapons at your disposal – you only carry your innocuous and empty ice bucket. Learn enemy patterns, avoid direct confrontation, and get lost in the maze that the motel turns out to be. The personal highlight here is the voiceover, as Luis comments on his descent into hell with extraordinarily cheesy and overdelivered remarks. He chews the scenario in a brilliant way, we can almost hear the voice actor grinding his teeth while shouting the lines in his bathroom, making this surreal ice bucket trip more amusing than it should be. At one point, a hip-hop track suddenly starts blasting and it’s fitting to the mood of the game, but your enjoyment will depend on your tolerance for this genre of music.

Sadly, most of the cheesy factor is lost when you enter the next stage of the game, Nightmare. It’s time to grab a revolver and even the fight in more expansive areas, as waves of enemies relentlessly throttle in your direction with an annoyingly repetitive walking sound effect. Find a shotgun and a rifle, pick up ammo and pills in every corner, and repel the enemy hordes while trying to get to other locations by… you guessed it, using hearts in locked doors and finally reach the elevator.

Motel Phobia

Oddly enough for a game where you’ll frequently find yourself trying to flee in the face of danger, there is no sprint option, and you can’t jump; you can forget about aiming down sights with your rifle either. It feels like too much is lacking for a game that should have learned a few lessons from the grandfathers of the genre.

But clearly it didn’t, and that includes the gunplay aspect as well. While other elements could be forgotten, this mechanic should be solid and convincing, but that isn’t so. The shooting feels weightless, and your sensations are the same using a pistol or a shotgun, with hitboxes that are a hit or miss. Sometimes your shotgun misses a point-blank shot, and your pistol is so weirdly suited for one-hit headshots that you won’t want to use other weapons ever… until you’re forced to, because the knights are vulnerable to the shotgun and those flying things are ripe for some rifle shooting. Gunplay is unsatisfactory, unbalanced, and the only way you may get some enjoyment out of it is because you lowered your standards.

One of the faults that you’re going to find the most in El Paso, Nightmare is the frustrating sudden deaths. Foolishly back up into a corner or get blocked in a narrow corridor and you will be overwhelmed by three or more zombies, gnawing at you, taking your health without a respite or a chance to find a way to escape, no matter how many you take down in your desperate last breath of life. Watch your pills disappear and the fallen creatures being replaced by a few more, throwing your brave attempt into the trashcan faster than you can say “what the heck.”

Time to Check Out

El Paso, Nightmare is a little first-person horror shooter that fails to deliver on its good intentions. The extremely low price can’t be an excuse for lackluster gunplay mechanics and an underwhelming feeling throughout, as the expected old-school fun is hampered by obvious mechanical flaws that quickly turn into frustration.

There’s some enjoyment to be had if you can look past these issues, but this nightmare shouldn’t be as literal as it turns out to be.


  • Exceptionally cheesy voiceovers
  • Some intense escape moments


  • Gunplay is extremely flawed
  • Frustrating deaths when overwhelmed by enemies
  • Graphics are middling at best

Rating: 4/10

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