Developer: Monkey Moon Games
Publisher: Raw Fury
Genre: Adventure, Other, Simulation
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 24/06/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Welcome to Paris
It is not often that I get excited about a game. Not that wrapped up, clock-watching excitement. Yet that is precisely what I felt from the moment I saw the trailer for Night Call. It had something about it that intrigued me. I had to play this game.
I was delighted when I saw the review code come through and even happier when I was allowed to be the one to review it.
A noir thriller played out from the driver’s seat of a Parisian taxi. Not your average game, but how did the finished product hold up? Was it worth the wait? You will just have to keep reading to find out. Or scroll down to the bottom straight away to see my conclusion and score, but I’d rather you didn’t.
A Perfect Noir Atmosphere
I enjoyed the dark noir aesthetic of the game. The look and feel were perfectly set for the game and was a welcome and refreshing approach. The thing I love about independent games is their fierce conviction to standing out and pushing/breaking boundaries of what a game is.
Is Night Call a wholly unique game? No, it’s not, but it is a breath of fresh air, and the look and feel go a long way toward pulling you into the world. There are mystery and intrigue with every turn of the wheel. The streets of nighttime Paris come to light, yet at the same time, are never really shown.
The soundtrack of the game was equally enjoyable. It was just this relaxing set of background tunes that didn’t necessarily pull you into the cab, the characters did that, but it did pull you out of reality. A move that worked well in combination. Allow the music to pull you away from the world, making you more receptive to the tug of the story.
Explore Being the Eyes and Ears of the Parisian Night
Detective storylines are always a difficult thing to judge. Make the clues too simple, and the game falls flat. Make them too complicated, and the game loses you in its complexity. I was unsure how the game would handle the actual investigative side of things, and now that I have played it through, have some uncertainty as to how well it was handled.
The game is text-based. If you don’t like reading, then you will not enjoy this game. You are a Taxi driver with a shady past. This past is hinted to heavily and slowly explained as the game goes on. I won’t divulge anything, but it instantly made you interested in the protagonist.
There are three different cases that you can take, and while they all play out in the same world, and share the same base characters, their roles differ from case to case. That said, there are over 70 different characters in the game, and each one is rich with story, from the every day to the bizarre. Yes, I have driven Satna to his sleigh and helped a space alien see the sights. There was also a ghost who I gave a lift on several occasions, whose story is an intriguing adventure in itself.
I enjoyed the concept of working a shift in the cab, picking up customers listening to their stories. I liked the different options you were presented. It felt at least, like a break from the standard, happy, sad, defensive style options. Some conversations offered responses that all followed a similar theme, while others offer stark contrasts. They all aided in building the character of your driver, as well as assisting in your ongoing investigation.
Pick Your Own Adventure
You are your own boss in this game. From the moment your shift starts, you have full control over who you collect, and here you go. Choose from driving an old friend for free, but accept a loss financially, to picking up a random stranger and take them across the city just to for the sake of making the drive. Alternatively, you could look for the customers with a flashing yellow outline. These were your core suspects, and driving them would often reveal more clues and help your investigation.
I also like the random information drop where you could sacrifice your work and money – often having to pay for information – but visit a connection or location that would reveal something significant about the case. The choice was yours, and this added a wonderful layer of dexterity to the game. Combining different difficulties with different investigations, and the near open-world style of the gameplay, you have what should be, an unforgettable experience.
However, Night Call just falls short in this regard. There are just a few niggles that get in the way of it being the experience I had hoped for.
The clues you investigate auto-connect themselves to each other and the suspects. This takes away a core element of the story, which is, solving the crimes. I would have preferred that the game made more of a puzzle about this, in some way or another. It just left the entire investigation aspect feeling hollow. There was no sense of triumph in making the right choice and accusing the truly guilty party.
Frequent Crashes but Not on the Roads
It has been a long time since I encountered a game that crashed as often for me as Night Call did. Frequently I would be three-quarters of the way through my night shift, and the game would just crash and shut down. Sadly, the only save point was at the end of each day, meaning I needed to start my shift from the beginning. This isn’t a huge problem, but twice I was in the middle of an interesting conversation with a customer. Seeing how the game is randomly generated, I never got to finish those discussions as the characters never popped back up in a place that made for a convenient collection.
Night Call is a game rich in detail. With so many different NPC characters, there is reason enough to replay the game just to meet each one and hear their entire story. That simply isn’t possible for a single playthrough.
Each case also multiple endings. Firstly you need to deduce the right suspect. In the case I played, it was a clear-cut decision, but again, depending on how you play the game that decision could be easier or harder even if the game does go out of its way to prompt you to make the correct decision.
In any case, the presence of three different investigations gives the player more than enough time to delve into the world, and the role each character plays varies from investigation to investigation. This means that each case gives you a fresh perspective. It’s a clever way to encourage those additional playthroughs while still making the game feel fresh and new.
After having waited so long for a chance to play Night Call, it is possible that the game built up such a weight of expectation that it would never have truly hit what I was expecting. However, the final product was not what I was expecting and ultimately fell short of even the expectations that were set way back when after the first trailer.
It was still an entertaining game, and I enjoyed just driving around and meeting the different characters built into the world. I found more enjoyment in that element of exploration than I did the actual storyline. The biggest disappointment for me was how the clues gathered auto-connected themselves to the suspects. I think the game would have benefited greatly from making more of the investigation than mere dialogue interactions and holding down the A button before you went to sleep at night.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can get your copy of Night Call from the Nintendo eShop today.