Usually, I like to do these little write-ups just after playing something new so it’s all fresh in my mind. With Night Call, I deliberately waited until the next day because I knew I was going to be thinking about the experience for quite awhile after closing the game.
In Night Call, you play as a taxi driver in Paris who has just returned to work after nearly dying at the hands of a serial killer. Instead of just returning to work and getting on with your life, you are also trying to figure out who almost killed you.
I played through the first of three cases – The Judge – in about two hours. While the experience as a whole was really engaging, I have to admit that the “solve a mystery” portion was comparatively weak. In the course of the game, you come across clues which are added to your board at the end of each night. The game automatically connects clues to some suspects, and it cuts down on the amount of deductive reasoning needed. I faithfully checked on any investigative points that came up, and was fairly confident when I made my accusation, but it also feels like it’d be easy to miss important context and make the wrong choice.
But the most engaging part of the game is not the mystery. It’s in the passengers you pick up, in the conversations you have with them. Sometimes, the most interesting thing you can do is say nothing over and over and let them unburden themselves. I would have gladly played for hours, just picking up fares and learning about the people of Paris, and by extension, my character.
Night Call is a brilliant slice-of-life sort of game that’s bogged down by unsatisfying mechanics (like the need to stay profitable or risk losing your job), and limited by the scope of only three scripted investigations. I want to know more about the people without being bogged down by the tediousness of “discovering” a killer whose identity I already know from the first play through. I was hoping that playing all three cases would unlock some sort of endless mode, but that doesn’t seem to be an option.
I don’t expect Night Call to have broad commercial appeal and be wildly successful, which is a shame, because what it gets right is mind-blowingly good. The tiny epilogue you get after completing the Judge was flawless. I absolutely plan to play through the remaining two cases, and am still debating whether or not to purchase the game outright, as I discovered it on XBox Game Pass for PC. I definitely want to see more from this developer.