Wednesday, 1 November 2017

HALLOWEEN 2017: NightCry

Happy Halloween and Bi-yearly blog update!

This year’s token halloween game is a callback to Clock Tower, which we played back in 2011. Nightcry, aka Project Scissor is a ‘spiritual’ successor, as it were… get it??
So Tobi, anything to say about this before we start? A successor to Clock Tower is all I know about this. I know there's a couple games in between I missed, and that the reviews are ‘VERY MIXED’ on Steam. Anything else?

I guess one thing to keep in mind is that this is a Kickstarter game, so it makes sense that while the main creator is the same, the branding had to be changed. I’d say that I generally expect slightly lower budget affairs from crowdsourced games, but I suppose it’s not going to be that much of a difference for this series. It was always a little janky and weird, but had its heart in the right place. I genuinely know next to nothing about this game, but I suppose the level of mystique is going to be a boon for our Halloween pick.

.......An eyeball??? Hopefully you've used one since.

One session in and so far this game’s a lot of walking and some light adventuring. I kind of like how it’s really more of a P&C adventure with jump scares and chase bits than one of those modern ‘stealth action’ games. It kind of sucks that you either go the exact right way or you run out of stamina and slowly die, but I guess I’m enjoying that it’s more of a casual storytelling game and i don't have to headshot anything or sit in a cupboard for like 8 hours swearing at a stupid flipping Xenomorph- yes I’m still salty.

Yeah, my first impressions are pretty positive. The animations are hilarious, but the gameplay seems solid. The Point and Click Adventure elements work well for horror games, and while I’m not a fan of chase sequences in any capacity, they are always short here. Most of the time you’re left to explore and soak in the atmosphere. The setting of a cruise ship also works well for this type of game, but it does feel a little familiar.

I won't ask what for.

Okay, there’s some pretty funny ways to die. Don’t wanna spoil too much but here’s a few examples of things that have killed me: A tumble dryer, a possessed naked baby doll, and a radio distress call. I should also note, the game takes place from 3 different points of view. What do you think of the 3 playable characters? Monica is ya preppy but spunky gold-digger (who NEEDS to take off those HEELS, girl! Imagine how fast you could run!) Leonard is my dogg, he’s a scholarly father figure who's getting stuff done. Rooney is ya typical 90s horror movie protag - the shy virginal outsider girl with a tragic past. So I mean basically, it’s Buffy, Giles and Willow right?

Hm yeah, that’s basically what they are. I kind of enjoy the characters in this to be honest. They’re simple horror-movie clichés, but they get the job done. One thing I’m really not liking are the camera angles. They’re set to be cinematic, and they work OK in that respect, but they remain that way, even in chase sequences. You’re expected to walk towards the camera by clicking on the single centimetre of floor you can actually see ahead of you, while a monster is right behind you. Then sometimes the camera swings wildly around corners or after opening doors, making the whole process just a pain in the butt.

Finally, a social scene that's right for me.

Ugh yeah! I’m always just mashing the left click until until my hand hurts. So not only does the boat setting give it a Zero Escape vibe, but the game’s structure does too! Turns out there’s alternate endings and the game gives you some handy prompts on what you might be missing. So we both got our first ‘ending’ (and the same one!) within minutes of each other. It’s kinda still hard to have much of an opinion from one of those bad endings that doesn't explain squat. Time to soldier through! I’m gonna try and get as many alternate routes as possible before i get the best one.

Not me. After my first bona fide ending, I plotted my course to the good ending. My journey wasn’t very straight-forward, since it’s apparently quite easy to miss certain key scenes if you’re trying to rush through bits you’ve already played, but I made it there eventually. The game’s actually relatively rather short if you want to power through it and know what to do. That’s one of the reasons why the tree of choices was a good idea. Makes replaying a lot smoother, assuming you still want to do that. 

When u the only cat at a human party.

Ok turns out this is a bit underwhelming in its structure after all. Unlike Zero Escape (last mention i promise!) all the routes are narratively identical, only the final cutscene is different and the gameflow map is just a way to really explain all the dead ends you’ll reach and allow you to not have to fully start over. I’ve really got more than enough of the jist of this game now so heck with it let's just shoot for the proper ending.

There’s some other issues I have with it as well. The game’s kind of confusing when it comes to the simple act of saving. If someone didn’t explicitly tell me how to save my game, I don’t think I would have figured it out. The game does checkpoint you sometimes, but it feels chaotic and random. Another weird quirk is that the pause button pauses everything in the game, including menus and the loading screens. Another bizarre thing was that quite a few of scenes were timed as if they should have had voice acting, but they just didn’t. Normally you can skip dialogue ahead in unvoiced scenes, but not in these ones. Just weird.

Unskippable cutscenes got me like:

Huh… that was it? I mean, I kinda enjoyed the ending on some level but uh… ok.

Short and while not “sweet”, not “bitter” either. It certainly scratched that Clock Tower itch for me. I’d argue that the original Clock Tower is still a better and more polished game, but I guess that was to be expected from a crowdfunded project. At the end of the day though, it’s unapologetically old-school, and I enjoyed several of its scenes. The stuff if did present to the player was fairly coherent.

C'mon Rooney, Springtime by Monet is a CLASSIC.

I do kinda love how unpredictable this game is. Like maybe you’ll figure out the core ‘mysteries’ of the game, but whatever happens in the immediate future you probably won’t see it coming. Because WHAT. That’s kinda what I’ve come to look for in a campy Halloween game experience.

Agreed. Verdict?

I give this game a ‘severed head of a loved one/10.’ It’s not pretty, there’s a lot less to it than you’d hope or expect, but it kind of has the more engaging features that endear you to something.


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