Night Call Review (Nintendo Switch)

Game: Night Call
Genre: Adventure, Other, Simulation
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PC and Xbox One)
Developer | Publisher: Monkey Moon & black muffin studio | Raw Fury
Age Rating: US M | EU 16+
Price: USD $19.99 | CAD $24.99 | AUS $ 29.00| UK £17.99 | EU €19,99
Release Date: June 24th, 2020

Review code used with many thanks to Raw Fury!

Paris isn’t Safe

Night Call is a black and white, noir, visual novel-esque storytelling game set in Paris. You are a taxi driver who works the night shift; you see plenty of things, hear all kinds of tales, and drive some of the most eccentric people through the winding streets of a midnight-Paris.

Night Call
Your faithful steed: the taxi cab.

The nights are getting longer and colder, as the winter-time holiday season has recently passed. There is fear, and talk of a serial killer on the loose in Paris. 

Unfortunately for you, this serial killer hops into your cab late one night… and then promptly leaves you for dead.

The next thing you know, you’re blinking away the bright fluorescent lights of a hospital room ceiling, and a concerned doctor asks you if you can hear her and how you are feeling. You glance over at the IV bag helping to keep you alive and pass back out. 

Little do you know, the danger is only just beginning…

Night Call
Turn Paris upside-down in your search for the killer.

Micro In Macro

On the Night Call page of the Nintendo website, it lists: “A vivid and original cast” as one of the key features. And boy-howdy, they are not kidding. 

The game boasts 90 unique characters (their own site says 90, while the Nintendo page says “more than 70”; while both statements can be technically correct, it gave me a confused moment of pause to read, but I digress…), each character has an individual story to share. My very first play-through, I kind of forgot that you only have seven days to collect the clues and figure out who the killer is. As such, I was picking up every passenger who had an interesting photo.

Night Call
I was just as frustrated as my character when I couldn’t have a conversation with this guy!

Heck, my very first passenger was a cat! A CAT! It hopped into my cab and then handed me a piece of paper with the address to a train station on it. When I chatted with the cat, I learnt that it was unhappy and trying to escape a rather smothering owner. It just wanted to go live free in the countryside. I couldn’t begrudge a cute kitty its freedom! So, while I had the option to pull over my cab several times, I didn’t. I took the kitty to the train station.

LITTLE DID I KNOW: later on, in my trials and travels, I would just happen to pick up a sad little girl who was looking for her lost kitty. She sobbed and cried and said she’d talked to someone who swore they saw her cat get into my cab. 

IT BROKE MY HEART! But, I couldn’t betray the kitty’s trust… I had to lie to a little girl, and give her a tiny lecture about how it’s not good to smother the things you love! 

THAT is the kind of game you are in for, folks. Should you decide to pick up Night Call. If I have learnt anything about games Raw Fury publishes, it’s that they are worth buying.

Night Call
This lady literally made me drive her to a park where she could pick some “inspiration mushrooms” and then proceeded to poetry all over my cab.

The title I gave this section is “Micro in Macro” because there is the overarching macro story of trying to find the serial killer who attempted to end your life, and thus bring him to justice. On top of that there are dozens and dozens of micro stories, such as: the aforementioned kitty, the adorable couple looking for a sperm donor, and even Santa Claus himself! 

Lemme tell you a little something about Santa Claus, he is JADED. He really knows everything about everyone, and seems like alcohol is his coping mechanism. Well, you know what they say: Never meet your heroes.

The writing for this game is amazing, every character has a compelling story line – some longer than others – but all of them made me feel. Some I related to, some made me want to cry, and some were just strange and funny. A lot of creative and stellar storytelling went into the making of this game.

Night Call
Every now and then you’ll see the view from out the cab window.

The Mechanics

Night Call is basically a visual novel with a lot more choice. The game is the span of seven days (the amount of time the police are giving you to help them catch the killer). Your best-friend-buttons are going to be A and B for select and cancel, as well as the left stick to make selections. Pretty standard stuff. 

In terms of game progression, there’s your “on-shift” time, and your “post-shift” time. While you’re on shift, driving your cab, you will be shown a map of Paris, and on it will be little points you can select: photos of passengers you can pick up, gas stations you can go to to fill up (PRICEY!), or little eyeballs where you can investigate certain leads. Every time you select one of these options, it will show you how much time it will take from your night. You can even choose to spend some time listening to the radio or reading a newspaper. All of these interactions can add clues to your investigation.

Which leads us to the second part of each night in the story: returning home and compiling the evidence and clues.

Night Call
Riddles inside a game that’s basically a big riddle?! How meta!

You’ll return to your tiny apartment, and you’ll have a bit of time to look through police files (provided by Busset, the rough-’n-gruff cop blackmailing you into helping find the killer), examine any of your own clues you picked up. Each of these things will take time, and there were several times I’d have to leave clues un-read on my desk because my character was too tired and had to pass out. 

At the end of your seven day time-frame, you’ll get a call from Busset. She will ask you who you think the killer is. Then you’ll get to select the photo of one of the suspects you’ve been given. Then, the next time you’re on shift, Busset will hop into your cab and say “Congrats, here’s the plan” or “WRONG! You’re going to jail now!”

Night Call
Busset is a big ol’ meanie stink face!

It’s really a rather nail-biting experience. It’s a slow-burn kind of tension that really makes it feel like I held the life of the protagonist in my hands.

The other really neat thing is that there’s some kind of shady history and backstory with the protagonist (which is the reason it’s so easy for the heat to blackmail them into helping). These details are revealed very slowly throughout the course of the investigations, and even now I am not sure of the exact story attached to my main character’s past. 

I love storytelling like this! The kind where the audience doesn’t know more than the protagonist (in fact, the protagonist knows more, and isn’t sharing their life story anytime soon), and when little tidbits of information are drip-fed to me, it makes the story all the more compelling, intriguing, and my desire to find out the truth is multiplied.

Little Niggles

One time, my game crashed. I have no idea why, it just froze and I couldn’t do anything. I’m sure that it is (or will become) a bug they are aware of, and will be patched. It only happened once, but it’s always worth noting so that it can be fixed and make the experience better.

My other little niggle was the clue-board. I honestly had NO IDEA what to do with it, or what I was supposed to do with it. When you start the game, all of the clues from the top are already attached to a suspect or two via yarn. After that, I was collecting clues that weren’t attached to someone, but I WANTED to attach them. I don’t think there’s any way to change the clue board except to “turn off” the clue, and I couldn’t find a way to attach clues to a photo (which seemed strange to me).

I also didn’t want to turn off any clues because what if I got to the end and getting the answer correct depended on having the correct clues all on? 

That part didn’t make much sense to me. The clue-board you fiddle with at the end of your shift seemed like it was just a placeholder where the player can read all the clues collected (sometimes clues would directly contradict each other too!), but there’s nothing you can do with them. Maybe that was the point, just a cool place to read the things so you can eventually select the right suspect?

Perhaps I felt like a little of my agency as a player was taken away? I’m not sure, it just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

Final Verdict

Night Call is an amazing game, full to the brim with excellent characters, exploding with amazing stories to tell. It definitely deals with some mature themes, and some of the stories are absolutely heartbreaking (and might even perhaps be triggering to some), but I wouldn’t let that put you off.

Rather, I would use this game as an excellent way to look into the worlds of all kinds of people from different backgrounds, races, social standings, genders, relationships, and realize that we are all just people with our own stories to tell. 

Night Call
Even robots have a bittersweet story to tell.

My biggest hope is that someone picks up this game and becomes just a bit more respectful and tolerant of people, or groups, that they may not have understood before. I honestly think that this is the kind of game that can do that. And who doesn’t want a world where discrimination is no more, right?

I’d recommend this game to ANYONE who likes good storytelling, and compelling characters. It isn’t all doom-and-gloom either, there are a butt-load of fun, kooky, fantasy characters as well that are a blast to learn about (I’m looking at you robot-assistant and lady-from-the-future-where-the-world’s-population-has-been-ravaged-by-a-disease… SO TOPICAL AMIRITE?!)

Anyway, as we should all know by now Raw Fury is amazing, they make amazing games happen. Night Call is no exception to the rule. 

Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot

Night Call
At the end, one must always remember to pay their fare.

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