Half-Life 2 is an undeniably great game. Sure, it shows its age, but it still holds up as one of the greatest first-person shooters of all time. And one of the best things about it is that if you have Half-Life 2, it’s like getting hundreds of great games for free. And why is that? Well, thanks to mods, of course.
Half-Life 2 is one of the most widely-modded games of all time. And while there’s certainly those of dubious quality, there are some mods which stand out as masterpieces, rivaling even high-budget, commercially available games. One such mod is Nightmare House 2.
The original Nightmare House was simply a map pack for Half-Life 2, and is actually included in Nightmare House 2 as the prologue stage. The atmosphere is eerie and oppressive, and it only gets worse from there.
But of course, that’s merely the prologue. The bulk of the game takes place within Never Lose Hope Hospital, where things have clearly gone terribly wrong. The Hospital is dark, bloody, and infested with the undead, and your only ally is a man trapped on the complete other end of the hospital.
Nightmare House 2 expertly plays upon your fears. You never know when something might appear behind you, or when you might be suddenly attacked by a horde of the undead. Even your flashlight has a tendency to flicker or shut off at times, leaving you in complete darkness.
The mod pushes the capabilities of the source engine and surpasses what you might expect from a Half-Life 2 mod. Every object, monster, and scare is masterfully placed to maximize your terror. Some events even occur at random, to keep you on edge.
That said, the game IS somewhat derivative. Nightmare House 2 draws heavy inspiration from games like F.E.A.R. and Condemned, and in fact some scenes are copied nearly directly from those games. However, in all honesty, Nightmare House 2 actually does them BETTER. Despite the first-person-shooter gameplay, the main focus of Nightmare House 2 is still the horror, raising it above similar action-horror games which tend to lose their focus and become monotonous.
If you have Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and haven’t played Nightmare House 2 yet, give it a download here. If you DON’T have Half-Life 2: Episode 2, I suggest you buy it, if for no other reason than for fantastic mods like this one. Nightmare House 2 is a masterpiece among horror games, and few others have unsettled me quite as much. I give it 4.5 Hogans out of 5.