Home Alone meets Slumber Party
Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition
The return of a cult classic When it was released in 1992, Night Trap stirred quite a controversy, sparking a debate around violence in video games, which would eventually culminate with the establishment of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB). Despite being a pioneer in its time for the use of full motion video, the game received ire from the U.S. Congress for promoting realistic violence and sexual aggression against women. As a result, Night Trap was pulled from the shelves, sealing its place in video game history as a cult classic.
25 years later, the game is back with an anniversary edition, remastered in all its glory. In spite of all its notoriety in the early 90’s, Night Trap is tame compared to today’s more graphic and gory titles, if not more amusing. Playing out like a B-grade slasher horror flick, Night Trap puts players in the shoes of a member of the ill-named S.C.A.T. (Special Control Attack Team), tasked with protecting a group of girls in a home besieged by mysterious creatures known as Augers.
It is a simple premise that is essentially a ‘Choose Your Adventure’ title at heart: players watch over a series of eight CCTV surveillance cameras around a mansion, and activate a series of traps to capture and prevent the Augers from harming the girls. What unfolds on-screen depends on how successful players are in triggering the traps in the right rooms at the right time. Fail too many times at trapping the Augers, and it’s game over. Voyeurism made easy The 2017 release is a massive improvement over earlier iterations; the video quality is a lot cleaner, and the CCTV interface now runs in real time, enabling you to watch the action unfold in all rooms at the same time. This makes watching the movements of the girls and the Augers in the house easier than before, but more than just catching baddies, players also have to pay attention to certain scenes for changes in security color code. Forget to do so, and the traps will stop working at some point. So, while it’s important to stop the Augers, it’s also key to follow the drama.
Clocking in at nearly half an hour of gameplay, Night Trap may seem awfully short, but players are likely to fail in the first few playthroughs until they get used to the system. This eventually means toggling between rooms and launching traps on auto-pilot, which causes Night Trap to lose some of its charm and soul, which is a shame considering there’s much to be appreciated from its campy humor.
With multiple endings, there’s also a lot of replayability, although the game does suffer from repetition after awhile. Extra modes like Survivor add some challenge, while bonus material lets you see the entire ‘movie’ from start to end, play the 1986 prototype that inspired the game, as well as watch a documentary on the controversy that led to the ESRB. Regardless, Night Trap is not for everybody, and while fans and 90’s kids will love the nostalgia, modern gamers might not find this release to be up their alley.
This is like the Until Dawn of the 90’s, except with FMVs and B-grade camp.