The cab has been converted into a confession cab in Night Call. This noir-style visual novel interweaves a series of murder mysteries into the stories of dozens of ordinary Parisians, where the threads of their lives mingle as you walk through the city streets. Everyone is a little bit vulnerable or vulnerable, just like the structure of the game’s core research, and it’s the insights into people’s daily hopes, fears, and secrets that linger long after the end credits roll. This is our Night Call Review.
Night Call Review: About
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
- Developer: Monkey Moon, BlackMuffin
- Publisher: Monkey Moon, Raw Fury
- Genres: Adventure game, Simulation Video Game
- Release Date: July 17, 2019
Night Call Review: Gameplay
You play as Houssine, an Algerian immigrant living in Paris. Much of his background has been left out or is only revealed in suggestion during the game, but he is Muslim, has a thick, dark beard, and works as a night shift taxi driver. Houssine has recently returned to the wheel after an attack in which he was hospitalized and, because of who he is, a suspect of the crime of which he was the victim.
Houssine knows what it means to feel like an outsider. There has recently been a terrorist attack, the details of which have not been specified, but Arab men such as Houssine have been chosen suspiciously, their presence alone worrying. His attack also resulted in the death of another person, the latter in a series of deaths that the police would like to impose on him. However, a detective disagrees and offers Houssine a deal: if she helps her investigate the murders, he’ll be released.
It feels good that Houssine would be interesting for the police given the political climate (both current and in the game) and the hints to his painful past. And it feels real that someone would pressure him to essentially become an informant, the kind of blackmail that mentions that there is a corrupt black core within the moral gray area of society. These themes – of feeling like you don’t belong, of a rotten system that excludes all but the privileged few – inspire not only Houssine’s personal experience, but also many of the people he encounters, and work well together to create an Otherwise diverse collection of stories.
Houssine takes to the streets every night to track down clues and follow leads while doing his regular job. On a map of the city, select a fare to take and look at a yellow arrow navigating to its destination, with the scene covering an interior shot of the cabin with Houssine in the front right and his passenger (s) in the back seat.
At this point, all you need to do is talk. Conversations are text-based, with you selecting reply options on behalf of Houssine, interspersed with his internal observations. Regardless of being minimally animated, with a handful of poses and expressions each, each character conveys a remarkable range of emotions and manages to bring to life every new person you meet.
It is also a wonderfully diverse cast of characters. In total, 75 passengers can be met throughout the game, from a wide variety of ages, social classes, ethnic groups, sexuality, and, in one or possibly two cases, dimensions. They each have their own stories, and Houssine seems to be the man who wanted to hear them all.
That’s because since he’s an outsider, as a taxi driver, Houssine’s difference is camouflaged. Most of the people he picks up are initially unaware of him. Couples discuss private matters as if he were not there. Single passengers mutter to themselves, seemingly unaware of the possibility of a real human sharing the vehicle with them. When they notice him, a passenger mocks the idea that a modest taxi driver can have useful advice.
Another passenger assumes that Houssine has certain political sympathies because he is a brown, working-class person. “According to the people of this country, you don’t count,” a character tells him, tired and tired. Houssine is both different and invisible, tagged as diverse, and yet erased at the same time. However, some passengers are immediately warm towards Houssine, while others, if distant or careful, are quickly disarmed.
Regardless of their nature, however, they are all willing to reveal the most intimate details of their inner life with often only a little bit of delicate poking. There is a politician who is at the end of his tethering due to endemic corruption begs Houssine to help him leak confidential documents. There is the lesbian couple who are arguing loudly about the earnings of the future sperm donor with whom they have just dated. There is a former porn actress who would like to talk about her new pro-union production company making gender positive porn movies. These stories are often funny, moving, and sweet – but they are always fascinating and exceptionally well written.
Between these rates, Houssine can visit different locations to continue his research. He knows someone who works somewhere and maybe has some information, things like that. But these scenes don’t feel as elaborate as the taxi ride conversations. It has not been made clear how Houssine manages to get to these places, or why many of these contacts can help him. Indeed, many of the things he pursues are unclear, as if essential details have been intentional, frustrated, left out of reach.
When Houssine returns to his apartment every morning and assesses the clues he discovered – presented as handwritten notes pinned to a board – I found it challenging to interpret what much of it meant. By the time Houssine was called up to accuse a suspect, I had made an inconclusive guess that happened to be correct. The structure of this series of murder mysteries is strange. There are three cases to choose from when you start a new game, and each is styled the same way: Houssine becomes the accidental victim of a serial killer and is heavily armed by a detective to support the investigation.
In any case, recurring characters do occur, but if you meet someone in one case, that relationship isn’t transferred to the next. It was bizarre in the second case to give a lift to the same person I revealed in the first one as the killer. I learned more things about him that complicated my feelings about how the first case was resolved, but I couldn’t help but wish I had come across this conversation while pursuing that first case.
Houssine cannot concentrate solely on his detective work. He must also earn a living. Fuel for your taxi, daily car maintenance, and refunds on your taxi permit are all tax bill attacks that can only be taken out by collecting new rates. Your boss says you are like a son to him, but if you don’t make enough money with your service and can’t afford to pay his share, the car maintenance, and the license fees, he’ll fire you on the spot and it’s game over.
I like the theory behind this light economic sim layer. It’s there to make you feel the uncertainty of Houssine’s existence, while also being encouraged to interact with all the characters who don’t have anything to do with the core mystery. But my experience with the usual difficulty was that it felt too punishing. In my first case, I entered an all too real downward spiral, where I just couldn’t pull Houssine out of the red and had to end the game. On the easy difficulty, Houssine still loses money every night, but he starts with a buffer sufficient to run through the story.
Night Call Review: Conclusion
If you are going to play Night Call, play it on the “Story” setting. The average difficulty level claims that it is “the way to play Night Call.” I do not agree. Night Call is at its best when you sit behind the wheel, gliding through the rain-kissed boulevards, lost in conversation with the lost soul who happened to appear in the backseat of your taxi. It presents itself as a noir mystery, but the murders you investigate are the least interesting narrative element.
The real power of Night Call review is in the stories it tells about Paris, the people who live there, and the meaningful connections you can have with them, however short or unexpected. It is these people that you remember once you have solved every case, not the rates you charged them.
This noir-style visual novel interweaves a series of murder mysteries into the stories of dozens of ordinary Parisians, where the threads of their lives mingle as you walk through the city streets.