Friend. Confidant. Therapist. Voyeur. These are the many identities you will assume whilst driving your cab throughout the quiet, yet interesting streets of Paris.
Night Call – Review
Night Call is best described as a noir-styled, non-linear, narrative-driven investigation game that allows you to interact with the many faces of Paris. These faces will allow you to form a connection on an emotional level, some will annoy you with their arrogant or sterotypical views, and some people will just plainly make you laugh. Who knew the streets of Paris could be this entertaining at night?
Night Call revolves around Houssine- a cab driver that has a unique gift, the gift of making people to talk. You begin the game in a hospital bed as the latest victim of a mysterious serial killer. You didn’t see his face, you were lucky to survive, and the lazy French police need answers.
In typical French tradition, the Police want to take the easy option and pin the murders on you. And why not… you’re an Algerian immigrant living in Paris, there’s been a number of recent terrorist attacks, and you have a mysterious past- the perfect scapegoat for the case. This is where you’re introduced to Busset- A hard-arsed Detective in charge of the case. She’s uncovered your mysterious past and blackmails you to help track down the serial killer. Busset has done some investigating of herself, shes narrowed down the suspects to 4 people and hands you the evidence they have. It’s up to you to cross-reference this police evidence and use the remaining time gather further evidence, build a case and reveal the actual identity of the serial killer, easy right?
There’s an element of micro-managing to Night Call, you simply can’t spend all your time hunting for clues and investigating potential leads. Similar to Papers, Please you still need to earn money to cover your everyday expensives- food, rent, gas for your cab. This means each night you balance your time between business and pleasure, so to speak. This is where your gift of making people talk really shines, use this gift correctly and some passengers will disclose valuable thoughts, stories or secrets that will benefit your case, along with paying your rent. Of course, there’s still plenty of meaningless conversations you will encounter, but some of them can be quite amusing- I had a drunk Santa Claus trying to find where he parked his sleigh, a cat that seemed to understand English, a lesbian couple discussing a potential sperm donor, and an elderly lady that has a slight case of Tourette’s. All conversations are text-based, so if you dislike reading then there’s a high chance Night Call isn’t for you.
At the end of each night you retire back to your studio with more questions than answers. You update your investigation board with notes you’ve uncovered from the previous night’s work and from here they’re automatically connected to the corresponding suspect. No link? Then you’ll either have to discover the connection the following night or the clue is a dead end. By the end of the week you should have enough evidence to convict one of the 4 suspects, get it wrong and you will assume the legacy of the serial killer, forever.
Each game is unique in the way that the serial killer is never the same, however the each passenger’s story has remains the same regardless if they’re the killer or not. This is slightly disapointing, but it does allow you to dig deeper into the conversation and ask different questions to learn more about them, but after one or two cab rides you learn all there is to know about them. My first playthrough I encountered a homeless man who couldn’t pay, despite an apparent friendship between us. I booted him back onto the street, turned up the heat in my cab and looked for my next potential customer. Next playthrough I encountered the same homeless man, instead this time I let him in and he opened up to me, promising to ask around to help my case. I picked him back up a few days later and he gave me some useful information regarding the case. I earnt $0 for both trips, but his information was priceless towards the case. This is a classic example of how asking the right questions, for the right customers can impact the game.
There are 3 different investigations to choose from- The Judge, The Angel of Death and The Sandman. Each investigation varies in the way of motives and victims, but all investigations begin with you in a hospital bed as the latest victim. Before you get the chance to begin the game you must select from 1 of the 3 difficulty settings. These settings impact the game in the way of your finances and time required for each passenger. I honestly found playing Night Call on its easiest ‘Story’ mode difficulty the most enjoyable. This allows you to fully engage and at times, get lost in conversations. It also allows you to utilize your time investigating clues and not have to worry about your finances. A game primarly based on interacting with people shouldn’t be clouded with meaningless tasks that only prolonge the game.
I would of loved to see voiced lines included in the game, it would of been hillarious hearing a bunch of drunk Superheroes trying to locate their missing friend or how surprised a mother got when she discovered a ‘a big old hard-on’ while she was bathing her son who was in a coma. This is no criticism, but as Night Call is somewhat of a niche game even the option of voiced lines may of enticed some gamers who are on the fence. Night Call is still a good and fun experience that delivers on its vision, but with some small improvements it could of been a much more memorable cab ride!
- GAMEPLAY - 75%75%
- GRAPHICS - 72%72%
- AUDIO - 63%63%
Night Call is a clever game that does a great job telling a story of its people, the more time you invest in getting to know the people of Paris, the more enjoyable the ride!
For more on Night Call, check out our previous coverage.