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Review: Night Call

Night Call places you in the shoes of Houssine, a Paris taxi driver with a murky past. You wake up in a hospital bed and realize that you have narrowly survived an attack by a serial killer. Once released from the hospital, you must use your interactions with your passengers to uncover the identity of the killer.

The premise of Night Call is an interesting one, and the game thrilled me at first. However, the weaknesses became more apparent the longer I played. Reviewing Night Call presents a challenge because there is a sharp dichotomy between the game's strengths and weaknesses. Some aspects are phenomenal, and others are quite lacking.

The game deserves perfect scores for characters, inclusivity, and style. Your passengers will discuss anything and everything with you: relationships, home lives, political opinions, even personal tragedies. These conversations are without a doubt the highlights of the game. The passengers also come from all walks of life, hence the high inclusivity score. Passengers vary widely in terms of ideologies, skin tones, sexualities, genders, socioeconomic statuses, lived experiences, and occupations, which makes for an endlessly interesting and inclusive cast of characters. Night Call's noir style and soundtrack also stand out as points of strength.

In terms of weaknesses, the story and mechanics leave something to be desired. As I'm writing this review, the game has 3 storylines: The Judge, The Sandman, and The Angel of Death. Each storyline has a different killer. However, the overlapping dialogue between the three stories becomes stale quickly, especially if you decide to replay any of them as I did. Even a little bit of variation in the base dialogue of each storyline would have been refreshing. I also found all of the killers' identities to be predictable (although this may not be true for all players). The recently added Free Roaming option is a welcome addendum, since it allows you to interact with the passengers without being forced to solve a case. Unfortunately, the mechanics are infuriating. Sometimes it takes an eternity and a half for the taxi to reach its destination. Running out of time each night is especially disheartening, because the map displays the passengers you would've been able to pick up if you had more time. Each investigation plays out over the course of 7 nights, but I was able to identify all of the killers by the fourth or fifth. As much as the passengers make great conversationalists, the cases drag on for a bit too long. Once you've met most of the passengers, the desire to keep driving fades.

Ultimately, Night Call is an enjoyable experience, but it isn't good enough to justify its $20 price tag. Many superior indie games cost less. But if you're intrigued and manage to snag Night Call on a sale, I recommend trying it out.

Story: 0.5/2

Characters: 2/2

Mechanics: 0.25/2

Inclusivity: 2/2

Style: 2/2

Overall Score: 6.75/10

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