After my positive experience last year with narrative driven games I find myself again playing another one in Night Call, from Monkey Moon and Blackmuffin Studio, which feels more old school in its storytelling approach but wraps it up with some good writing and an appealing presentation. The game plays out like this: you’re a taxi driver in Paris who through circumstance has to help solve crimes by collecting evidence from his passengers. With limited time during your shift and a need to make enough money to avoid losing your job you’re requires to make a number of choices revolving around which passengers to pick up and where you will travel. Hopefully it will be enough to make the right choices in the end!
At it’s core the game is about conversations and getting the best result you can. If you ask the right questions you learn more about your passengers who in turn may slip a little piece of information for your investigations. This is even more useful when dealing with your suspects – at the end of your shift you have a moment to reflect and see the results of your successes with a useful board highlighting what you’ve learned so far. The game makes me think of it as being a modern take on Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective in that the bulk of the game is is around making conversation and finding finding the correct path to a clue but here there are also enough random elements thrown in to make games feel more unique. The three story options provided (The Judge, The Angel of Death and The Sandman) appear to act as additional difficulty options too. It’s a smart evolution of this particular genre of gaming and opens up the potential for additional replays.
In terms of presentation the game takes on a noir graphic novel style using mostly black, white and grey in it’s palette. Animation is kept fairly basic with the exception of a neat effect in the taxi’s background while travelling. Most of your focus is on reading the conversation text anyway so the minimalist approach is probably best so as to avoid too many distractions. Regardless of that the visuals do well to set the right atmosphere. With plenty of light and shadow in the imagery it’s pretty effective and is used in small doses to help push the story along. It might just be a flash of a street corner followed by your taxi’s light but it works well as a transition to the next part of the story you’re playing. The writing is pretty good and I’ve been impressed with the variety of characters that you come across with many becoming regulars who you can encounter numerous times in your play through. As much as I’ve enjoyed the storytelling the one downside I’ve found with the game is that the interactive elements can feel too minimal with most of your time spent tapping through conversations. But if the story grabs you then it’s not that big a deal.
Most players could get through The Judge story in maybe 2-4 hours and you’ll get a good feel for the game from that. For me it’s been a nice distraction from my usual game rotation and I appreciate it for that. Impressions from the achievement list is that there’s plenty to find for the completionists out there too and it’ll probably take a lot more time, even after you get through the other stories. If you’re looking for a quiet game to play late at night you could do at lot worse than Night Call and you may even decide to spend a few more late nights playing it too. 🙂
Night Call is out now on PC, Xbox and Switch. Played on Xbox Series X via Game Pass.