HD remakes, remastered collections, and celebratory re-releases are a mainstay of the launch slate these days – love 'em or hate 'em. Usually the retread treatment gets lavished on childhood classics or highlights of the previous hardware generation. It's not entirely clear if anyone predicted that infamous schlock fest Night Trap would make its way to PlayStation 4 in a shiny new wrapper. But here we are and, inexplicably, it's actually good.
A gloriously trashy product of its age, Night Trap is an FMV driven quasi-puzzle game that sees a bunch of teens lured to a lake house so they can be picked off by shambling ghouls called Augers. Unbeknownst to the vampire family that owns the house, one of the teens is working undercover for the Special Control Attack Team (brilliantly shortened to SCAT). Using the surveillance cameras and a series of traps, it's up to you to hold off the monsters until the cavalry arrives. Everything is shot with the production quality of a bargain basement slasher film; the acting is terrible, as are the effects – it’s like the original 1996 intro to Resident Evil, made into a whole game. This is part of the title's considerable charm; it’s goofy as hell and wears the iconography of early 90s mainstream media like a badge of honour.
Thanks to Scott Cawthon's viral horror series Five Nights At Freddy's, the games core mechanic will seem familiar for some. Cycling between cameras and trapping the Auger at the right moment is actually pretty fun for the first few tries. Traps can only be set off when you have the correct colour code active, which changes periodically and is randomly generated after each new game. Keeping an eye on the house residents to listen out for code changes while trapping those pesky vamps is an entertaining challenge at first.
The downside to the main game is its slight runtime. The story in its entirety lasts 25 minutes, while failed attempts can last as little as 5 and it only takes a few failures to learn how to breeze through.
One notable annoyance is the complete lack of any kind of tutorial. Other than the team of gruff commando types barking vague orders at you in the game's cheesy intro, there are no real instructions. Newer players may be completely baffled about how to actually play the game. It’s not complicated by any stretch of the imagination, but a few key hints might have been nice.
Once you find a groove and start to memorize Auger appearances and code changes, you’ll have seen everything the main story has to offer in about an hour. Thankfully, the anniversary edition has some new bells and whistles to extend its lifespan.
There’s a healthy selection of extras that serve to flesh out the history of the game, including the original prototype and an interview with co-creator James Riley. These are unlocked by meeting criteria in the main game, which encourages several playthroughs.
A survival mode throws you into the thick of the action with randomly changing trap codes, a worthwhile diversion that offers a decent short term challenge.
The option to play using every version of the interface, including the original 1992 layout in all its pixelated glory, is a nice feature and it’s worth checking each of them out. The newest version is the best as it’s clear and easy to use, scaling well on modern displays. But beyond that, there isn’t much else to this package.
Bizarrely, it actually looks great for its age. The developers had access to the original master recordings for all the movie sequences and they look crystal clear. Only a minor number of image distortions occur, which serve to add to the retro vibe. The sound mix is a little off in the menus, but once you get into the game it too is crisp and not at all indicative of its two-decade lifespan.
If nothing else, Night Trap is a historic document. A nostalgia trip for some and an insight into a rare gaming niche for others. Presented here with insightful extras and a modern lick of paint, it still stands up as a genre curio. There isn’t much content here and continued enjoyment will rely on how much you are willing to replay the main story. But, if you succumb to its corny charms, this is a game as entertaining to play as it is to watch.