Made by French developer DeValley, Nowhere is an often overlooked horror game that was only released on mobile phones. It's a top down action/adventure that has its fair share of combat and puzzle solving. It's a lot like Silent Hill, but in 2D. Nowhere also has to be one of the scariest games ever developed for mobile phones.
Nowhere's story is about two parallel worlds, one taking place in the real world and other in a bizarre nightmare landscape that mimics the other. The main character is Lucas in the real world and John in the other world. They look the same and have the exact same sprite. This is important because they're the same people in different worlds. In the real world, there was an earthquake which killed Lucas' wife, Emily. Lucas survived, though, and is trying to move on with his life and is dating a girl in a nearby apartment, Catherine. John, on the other hand, is waist deep in monsters and will stop at nothing to find his wife, Emily, who he refuses to believe is dead. There's also a serial killer, The Woodcutter, who exists in both worlds at once, and specifically seeks out children to kill. About a third of the way through the two worlds merge and things get really, really, weird. It's a pretty confusing story, screwing with your mind almost constantly.
Gameplay is different in each world, too. Lucas segments involve puzzle solving, talking to people, and gathering information while John has to fight monsters in a swamp. The action sequences are overhead and play surprisingly good for a mobile phone game. Enemies are usually pretty slow, possibly to accommodate for the wonky controls. 8 is up, 4 is left, 6 is right, and 2 is down. The 5 button in the middle is the action/attack button, and 0 opens up the main menu. It takes around four hits to kill John/Lucas, though how much health you have is never displayed. You can kind of tell you've taken too much damage if the character is bleeding out of his chest and holding the wound in pain. Additionally, John/Lucas will drip blood when walking, which really lets you know when you're close to death.
As you go through the game you get various weapons, such as an axe, a pistol, a shotgun, and later on, a drill. The axe is pretty easy to use, but has poor range. The firearms are great, but there is not a lot of ammunition to go around, so they end up being emergency weapons. The drill slows you down, but makes it so that you can just ram into enemies and kill them. You're still vulnerable from the sides, though. Hitting enemies in the back does extra damage too, giving combat a strategic element.
While the action is pretty cool, the puzzles are uninspired. Most of them involve talking to certain people or moving boxes into the right spaces. The box puzzles, which were old even back in 2007, can get tiresome. It sometimes seems a little too convenient that Lucas' job is pushing boxes in a warehouse, a skill that he uses throughout his time searching for answers and fighting the outlandish monsters in Nowhere. Other puzzles involve staying in the darkness to avoid being seen or trying not to step on anything that will make noise while going through an area. You could fight your way out of most of these situations, but that's not always a good idea. It's pretty standard 2D stealth gameplay. There is also a timed sequence near the end that can be very frustrating if you don't know what you're doing or where to go, but it's near the end and by that time you should be familiar with the whole world's layout.
A lot of Nowheres horror comes from strange monsters, ominous locations, and disturbing story. The story also ends up getting psychological and messing with your mind as it unfolds. The world around Lucas falls apart when it merges with John's, and you get to see it go to pieces in some very gruesome and disgusting ways. Near the end, the story also hits you with some disturbing sexual themes. There's an undead pregnant zombie at one point, though she won't kill you, as she only wants to talk. The main villain asks you to get in bed with her at one point, and if you choose to stay in bed with her the results are nothing short of horrifying. While the story is pretty good, the dialogue is juvenile at some points, so much that provides some unintentional comic relief. Nothing breaks the mood like the first boss calling you a "numbnut" right before you fight him.
Nowhere is pretty long for a mobile phone game. It takes roughly three days to a week to complete it the first time. A lot of the challenge comes from rationing health and ammunition, saving often, and figuring out those stupid box and switch puzzles. There is a bug that you can work to your advantage. Before the worlds merge, when you switch from Lucas to John or John to Lucas, your health is fully restored. Additionally, when you save, it does not save how much health you have. Your inventory is saved though, so if you ended up wasting all of your gun ammunition on weak green zombies, then you might want to think about restarting. Additionally, the first and last bosses must be killed with guns, as they are impervious to other attacks.
Once you complete Nowhere, you unlock New Game Plus. It gives you unlimited ammo, so it ends up taking away a lot of the challenge in the action sequences once you get the pistol. Since you don't have to worry about rationing ammo and already know all the answers to the puzzles, you can just blaze through the game in a couple of hours. After that, you can complete the game a third time, but with the addition of all enemies having twice as much health. It really does not add much to the challenge, though, as you still have unlimited ammo. Nowhere also has two endings, though you don't need to use the new game plus to see them both. One of Nowhere's biggest problems is that after seeing the two endings, there really isn't much to make you want to come back to it, as its gameplay can get repetitive and its shock value wears off over time. Even so, it's still an awesome game, possibly the best horror game you can find on mobile phones.