Night Call is a narrative driven noir inspired mystery game developed by Monkey Moon/BlackMuffin Studios and published by Raw Fury. The player takes on the role of a Parisian taxi driver trying to place their life back in to some sort of normality after having spent time in a coma due a brutal encounter with a murderer who is on the loose. Unfortunately, due to a bit of a shady past, the police have threatened to lay the murder charges on the player and the only way out of trouble is to gather enough information to convince the police of the killer’s true identity.The entire basis of the story revolves around the conversations spoken between the player and their passengers.
Set beneath the dimly lit backdrop of a modern day Paris, the player collects various clients around the city and engages in all kinds of different conversations. Throughout the night shift there are clues to be discovered, whether it be through sights of interest, newspaper articles, clients or even service station attendants.
After a short scene explaining the attack, the player is introduced to their boss and he is what I would personally consider a “good boss”. He gives you a very vague run down of what to do and how to do it. However there is not much of a learning curve here, being a narrative driven game the controls are very basic which is fine as this game is not so much purchased for it’s gameplay, rather for its script. After meeting the boss a road map of Paris is presented and the player then decides who their first customer will be. Shortly thereafter a police officer enters the taxi and provides an ultimatum that begins an investigative journey that sends the player on a wild goose chase to clear their name of any wrongdoings.
Now, there are three different case options with various difficulties in this game but they are more or less the same. The player is presented with five suspects and there’s seven nights given to gather information. Unfortunately, in each case the characters are very much rinse and repeat so I found that I was having the same conversations multiple times which made replayability less than desirable.
Money is something the player has to manage during their ventures, although I never came close to having any financial issues. Losses are automatically removed from the profit margin at the end of a shift and these losses are accrued from four categories: company cut, car maintenance, spending and investigation. Customers will often leave a larger tip for an enjoyable ride so there is incentive to decide on the right speech options, and the player can get caught in hot water when customers have a bad experience and don’t pay at all.
It’s easy to lose track of nights and a couple times I was caught by surprise when I had to accuse one of my five suspects. I often went through my clues and even when I had quite a few on my board it was honestly just a guess.. I always found myself unknowingly picking up the wrong clients and simply talking about irrelevant matters and even when I had the clues they didn’t show any hard evidence against any one person. The game leaves it to chance that a customer will land in the back seat of the taxi that even offers information and this can be frustrating when there’s limited time to gather what is needed at the end of the week.
Although I was supposed to be focused on the impending doom set upon the driver, there is not much information to explain who this character is other than vague recollections of his past and I just didn’t seem to be given any chance to help me realise who I was playing as or the opportunity to connect with the character. Nothing really made me want to help because I didn’t know who I was helping. The characters are what made this game enjoyable for me, not so much the investigative plot. There is a wide variety of characters, some with a sad story, some with a happy story and some that are just plain crazy. Everyone seems to have a story and an opinion. Some with a meaningful story to be told, like two women that were a couple who’d just had a meeting with a potential doner so they could have a child. Then there’s Santa, and not a man dressed as Santa… Actual Santa. His belly was completely full of brandy and his ramblings were hilarious.
Overall, Night Call is a game that created interesting characters, but fell flat on the investigation side of things. I enjoyed the political agenda that was often strewn within the dialogue, which would probably be outdated in five years time. I enjoyed the stories and problems that made this world feel real, then the goofy scenes that made me realise it is actually a game. The noir art style and soft jazzy music make for a relaxing experience. The downfall of this game is unfortunately the main aspect of it. The player doesn’t have to work for a clue, they are more often than not learnt through sheer dumb luck. Pick up enough different passengers and eventually a clue will be found, and even once you have a board full of them nothing really gives substantial evidence against any particular suspect.
+ Visually stunning noir art style
+ Interesting characters
+ Simplistic gameplay
– Lacklustre main character building
– Dull investigation gameplay
– Unrewarding story
Brando for One More Game
Night Call was reviewed on an Xbox One X. Its is also available on PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and is currently available on Xbox Game Pass.