The Nightmare Levels
Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: GT Interactive
Released: August 1, 1999
Genre: First Person Shooter
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
Platforms: Windows 98
ESRB Rating: M (animated blood and gore, animated violence)
"We didn't want the add-on to be as serious as the original game, so the storyline for the add-on is there more for setup and humor's sake than anything else. The add-on picks up where the first game left off, with the Chosen stranded in the Ancient One's realm, trying to make their way back to Earth. They set up camp one night and begin to tell scary stories about their past around the campfire. This attracts the attention of the Nightmare, a creature that inhabits the Ancient One's realm. The Chosen are then subjected to their greatest nightmares one-by-one before Caleb finally faces off with the creature itself."--James Wilson III
The Nightmare Levels is the sole expansion pack for Blood II: The Chosen, as Blood II: Revelations was never released. It adds a new six level single-player sequence, some new BloodBath maps and options as well as bug fixes.
The Nightmare Levels takes place shortly after the ending of Blood II. Although never explicitly mentioned, Caleb succeeds in binding the realities and the Chosen are trying to find their way home to our reality. They stop to make a campfire and pass the time by telling scary stories, until suddenly Caleb disappears, and finds himself in each of the Chosen's tales.
In certain levels, the player has the ability to play as each of the Chosen within the context of the story, as each narrates his/her tale. Each level contains different weapons and abilities that cater to the Chosen's strength and weaknesses. For example, Ishmael and Ophelia's story have more magic weapons, while Caleb and Gabriella contain more firearms and ammo.
Like the Plasma Pak, the expansion pack released by Monolith Productions for Blood, the game includes new weapons, new enemies and new maps for BloodBath. This is the last offical Blood product and the last ever made by Monolith as there was no "Blood III" ever created, so this is where the canon ends. However, the Blood community to this day continues to make non-canon fan advancements to the Blood universe.
New Chapter: Nightmare Levels
Following the defeat of The Ancient One, the Chosen begin the long journey back to their own reality. Gideon, the primary antagonist of Blood II, has been watching all this from his own unique vantage. After being bested by Caleb, Gideon's soul did not in fact perish; instead, it was trapped inside his skull. Making the best of things, Gideon decides to recall one of the adventures he has witnessed, which begins with the four Chosen sitting around a campfire. Although capable of handling the odd demon, they were unprepared for the arrival of a physic beast called The Nightmare, which they inadvertently call to their campfire by telling scary stories.
The introduction cutscene opens with a shot of a grave as Gideon narrates.
"Oh yes, hello. Surely you'll remember me. The power-mad and vainglorious Gideon. Once upon a time I pretended to the throne of the gods. Well, I suppose I got my wish. My undying soul is bound to this cranial prison for all eternity, no thanks to Caleb and his Chosen Ones. Anyway, there's no sense being bitter about it. I imagine one day I'll serve as a muse to some unfortunate playwright who wanders this way. Until then, gentle player, I will amuse you... with this little anecdote. After defeating the Ancient One, the Chosen had a long walk home through the otherworld. They were able to handle the odd demon or two that came their way, but what they were not ready for was the powerful psychic terror that stalked the wastes -- the Nightmare. Fools that they were, the Chosen practically invited a visit from this devil when they decided to tell scary stories during one of their repasts. Little did they know that each one of them was about to be transported to their personal hells. Observe, and be entertained, dear player."--Gideon, opening Nightmare Levels narration
Chapter 5: The Nightmare Levels
Caleb tells of his experiences in the arctic north, heading to the Lair of Shial. He is interrupted by a green vortex, which proceeds to whisk him away. The other Chosen react nonchalantly and continue roasting their weenies. Caleb then finds himself acting out his tale (C5L1: Cold, Cold Grave). He eventually discovers a blue portal, and grudgingly heads through it. Meanwhile, Ophelia starts to tell her own story, describing how she first met the Cabal when they attacked her sorority house. She decided to abandon her sisters and join them, but first she needed to destroy all evidence of her sorority past. Ophelia then too finds herself to be inside her story (C5L2: Iota Eta Pi). Caleb appears at the end, and after discovering her secret, is taken through another portal. Ophelia returns to the campfire, and Ishmael's tale begins. He relates how he was once JoJo the Idiot Circus Boy, condemned to spend the rest of his life as a freak. In the midst of this Tchernobog appeared and bid him to kill his captors and escape the circus (C5L3: JoJo's Big Adventure). Ishmael once again makes his escape, and is joined by Caleb at the end, who is amused by the truth. The other three Chosen then listen as Gabriella tells of her time spent at a spooky mansion, which she also relives (C5L4: Spooky Mansion). Caleb again appears, and wonders where he will be heading next, now that he is all out of Chosen to visit. He then finds himself deposited in an Old West town, eventually finding his way to an old underground mine shaft (C5L5: Westworld). There he battles numerous otherworldly creatures before being brought to an open arena to face off with The Nightmare itself (C5L6: Caleb vs. The Nightmare).
Caleb defeats the creature, after which Gideon returns to his narration.
"And so our story comes to an end. Caleb is victorious yet again. It seems nothing can stop him. At times it is almost as if the unseen hand of some otherworldly being is guiding his actions. But it is best for me not to dwell on such things. For now I will content myself with observation. The Chosen have many adventures ahead of them -- stories to tell, battles to fight, and empires to forge. Perhaps one day, I will find a way to make my return. And on that day, I assure you, Caleb will burn!"--Gideon, closing Nightmare Levels Narration
However, somehow, Ishmael interrupts him, asking who has taken the last marshmallow. An annoyed Gabriella demands that they all shut up before she kills them both.
Although this expansion gives more storyline in one chapter than any of the original chapters of Blood II, it introduces several glaring omissions, inaccuracies, and continuity details. Some of these may be fabrications by the Nightmare, but some of them are blatant anachronisms. A possible explanation is that the original memories have faded too much from time, death and resurrection, forcing the Nightmare to use images of the modern world to construct its imaginary world, in which the Chosen would relive their past.
- Gideon's skull, in which his spirit resides, is on top of a hill near some ruins, but Caleb defeated him inside a stone temple during Blood II: The Chosen.
- The urban backgrounds are in the 20th/21st century style.
- Ophelia would have gone to school around 1847. Typical attire for women of the period involved floor length dresses, petticoats and other Victorian wear. The girls in the sorority are wearing jeans and sweatshirts more common in the 1950s.
- Ophelia's tale is also supposed to take place before she met Caleb, and he is not supposed to know she was in a sorority, yet on the second floor of the house is a modern style dry-erase board with a message for Ophelia to "call Caleb."
- There is a modern lawnmower in a garden shed on campus.
- There are washing machines in the basement of the college.
- The dorm rooms usually contain computers.
- The dorm has electric lighting.
- Caleb appears in Ophelia's tale, but Ophelia recognizes him, so it can't be a flashback. However, Ophelia was not whisked away through a singularity at the beginning of her tale, so neither can it be real. Gabriella has a similar reaction to Caleb, referring to him as "you!"
- There are modern cars in the parking lot of the carnival. "JoJo's Big Adventure" must have taken place at least before 1847.
- Ishmael calls himself an unemployed "evil cultist", but is not part of the Cabal at the time of "JoJo's Big Adventure" (although he seems not to be surprised by Tchernobog's presence). He might be referring to another cult, but there is no evidence of this.
- All sorts of modern weapons and ammo can be found around the levels, even though they are supposed to take place in the distant past.
- Gideon's narrative is somehow interrupted by Ishmael and Gabriella. Though this is an attempt at humour by breaking the fourth wall, it is also inconsistent.
- Where did they get the weenies and marshmallows?
- Flayer - A hook on a chain that creates tiny portals that hook into the victim's flesh and cause damage.
- Combat Shotgun - A single barreled shotgun with a tighter spread and less recoil than the Sawed-Off Shotgun, alternate fire shoots out a gas bomb.
- Robed Cultist - Caleb's old enemy from Blood. Wields a shotgun.
- Gremlin - A small impish creature that throws dirt clods and taunts
- Clown Guard - A Blood II cultist with a different skin.
- The Nightmare - A large quadruped demon that resembles an undead dog. Final boss.
- Sorority Girl - An innocent with a different skin.
It should be noted that the gremlin, the brown-robed cultist, and the Nightmare were not developed exclusively for The Nightmare Levels. They can be seen in the original code for Blood II. There is an unused map in the game that features these three models, although they lacked any AI programming at that point.
New Multiplayer Maps
The Nightmare Levels, although disliked by the mainstream press (by GameOver, Game Genie, GamesMania, MeccaWorld and The Adrenaline Vault, for example), was generally well received by Blood fans. Critics of Blood II were pleased to see a return of a more Gothic atmosphere and the much beloved Robed Cultists (which, if there had been time, would have been in Blood II proper), and those who enjoyed both games simply liked the look back. The new Combat Shotgun was also liked by fans, with the the much anticipated Flayer receiving a mixed reception. The expansion was criticized however for being short, consisting of only six single player levels, and despite containing patches for the rushed base game the expansion itself was still widely considered underdeveloped. As such, many people complained it was not worth the price; a moot point now that it is included as a charge free extra on GOG.com and other digital download services. The Nightmare model and lack of a more substantial ending was also not well received, especially since it ultimately serves as the conclusion to the entire series.
The credits for Blood II: The Nightmare Levels can be found: here.
See also Credits for Blood II
- The Nightmare Levels development
- The Nightmare Levels promotion
- The Nightmare Levels design
- Cutscene Image Gallery: a gallery of cut scene shots, including those from The Nightmare Levels.
- "Nightmares for Ten Years" Blood Wiki banner for the game's tenth anniversary.
- The Nightmare Levels old GT Interactive page
- Planet Blood Nightmare Levels Feed Back Part 1
- Planet Blood Nightmare Levels Feed Back Part 2
- Announcement at The Adrenaline Vault (January 8, 1999)
- Nightmare Levels Overview - Russian Blood Community (Russian)
- Nightmare Levels Overview - Russian Blood Community (Translated)
- The Nightmare Levels on Wikipedia