Developer: Monkey Moon, Blackmuffin
Platform(s): PC, Switch, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Gene(s): Indie, Simulation
Publisher: Raw Fury
Night Call is a developed by Monkey Moon and Blackmuffin. The game is published by Raw Fury who published other games including Atomicrops and Kingdom.
In Night Call you play as a Parisian cab driver. You are not a detective, nor a cop, just a “regular” cab driver. The experience between a driver and its passenger can be intimate, thus the knowledge that the driver holds from these differing conversations can be the key to cracking the case. Whilst in the midst of everything, you are scarred by an encounter you previously made with a serial killer on the loose. Due to your gloomy past, suspicions were directed at you, but you take it into account to help the police successfully identify the real criminal. You are given five suspects and your task is to gather as much relevant information as you can. This is done by conversing with your passengers, selecting certain suspects, or allocating locations on the map.
The controls for the game are pretty straightforward. There is not much when it comes to the controls other than selecting items or moving things around. The necessary buttons that are needed to continue with the game show up at the bottom right of the screen.
Night Call consists of three different case types. Each case has a difficulty selection that you can pick from. The three different cases all play similarly with some scenes repeating. There are five possible suspects from which you must identify the killer. The game can be difficult as sometimes the clues aren’t helpful as they should be. The selection of the passengers on the map can be puzzling, it isn’t clear what you are looking for to progress to the next step. Judging the passenger on their fare or destination doesn’t always mean you will get some revelation. It’s important to note that the mystery aspect of the game isn’t as appealing after you have just played the game a few times.
There’s also a “Free-Roaming” game mode. Within this mode, players focus on the interaction between them and the passengers without the mystery aspect of the game. This game mode is interesting as you can encounter a lot of peculiar personalities.
The noir art style sets a mysterious, ominous mood that fits seamlessly with the style of the game. The black and white setting of Paris truly sets the atmosphere of the game. Many scenes are located in the cab, but you also have scenes in the studio and the gas station. The screen is cut into half, the bottom half looking like the inside of the cab while the other half is a map tracking the GPS. When you reach your destinations, the background will change, and other times you’ll see rainfall. The subtlety of the art style works extremely well to set the mood of the game.
I do have to say that both the soundtrack and the different scenes in the game very well complement each other. The soundtrack for Night Call is soothing, for some scenes of course. The tone of the music fits well with the scene. Other times you will have scenes where a passenger is nearby threatening you and the music is rougher and intense. The soundtrack and the storyline really accompany one another to create a mysterious ambience.
As stated earlier, this game is narrative-driven, meaning that every time a passenger is encountered or a clue is obtained you play the game with greater knowledge over the same story. This game involves a lot of dialogue, I’d like to see a feature to allow dialogue to continue without the need for pressing a button to progress the dialogue.
Another interesting feature would be the clipart next to certain dialogues that you can pick from. When conversing with passengers you tend to get a couple of options to pick what to say. Sometimes, these options have different clipart indicating the tone that would be delivered. For example, smiling clipart indicates that the dialogue is meant in a funny, not so serious way. This is useful for narrative-driven games as sometimes your choices can have an effect on the other’s response.
Night Call is a great experience for anyone who likes a good mystery. Something about this game that should be applauded for is the narrative and the atmosphere. The in-game conversations flow so well. The authenticity created is immersive, and on top of that having to try to solve a murder mystery sets the bar high. There are certain things that can linger that experience, but nonetheless, the game is beyond compelling. From it’s story to the corkboard full of suspects and clues, the experience really stands out.