Night Call review: Paris Noire

Monkey Moon and Black Muffin's latest sees players balancing regular life while trying to catch a serial killer. Our review.

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Night Call is a murder mystery/simulation game set in Paris, France. In this noir style story, you play as a taxi driver just trying to make it by. A string of murders have been happening throughout the city and tension is rising quickly. You are eventually roped into the investigation as you have stronger ties to the case as you care to admit. Utilize your resources as a cabbie to gather clues and bring the serial killer to justice. 

Crazy Taxi

When starting off in Night Call, you’ll have to select from a handful of different cases. The core story remains the same throughout each case, but the investigation will change significantly. The victims, connections, motives, and suspects will all be different depending on which case you choose to play through. I started with “The Judge” as it’s a simple, more entry level case. From here, players must select between three different difficulties: story, balanced, and hard mode. In story, resource management won’t be as difficult, and it’ll be easier to get to the bottom of the case. Hard mode offers a gameplay experience where money will be tight and hard to come by, while also upping the difficulty in terms of investigation. Balanced mode sells itself as “the way Night Call was designed.”

The resource management in Night Call isn’t too intensive, so I’d recommend hard mode for anyone that really wants to juggle money, gas, and bills along with trying to solve the murder mystery. Story and balanced mode are a suitable option for players who just want to power through the investigation and find the killer.

After waking up from a two week coma, you discover that you were attacked by the infamous killer, and that you’re the only victim to survive a run in with them. You eventually return to your job as a taxi driver in an attempt to resume life as usual. A detective on the case gets her hand on some intriguing information about your past and blackmails you into aiding her in bringing the serial killer to justice. You’ll now have to use your job as a driver to uncover clues and help solve the case while working to keep your lights on. 

Night Call leans heavily on its narrative and storytelling rather then gameplay. Because of this, it feels quite like a visual novel. Luckily, the dialogue and text are possibly the strongest aspect of Night Call. With zero voice acting, Night Call manages to really pull you into this world with engaging dialogue and in-depth details. Every sense, emotion, and feeling is conveyed skillfully. This immersed me into the world and even played a part in my narrowing down of suspects. 

Connecting the dots

The gameplay in Night Call is separated by different days. Each night, you look over a map of Paris and select how you want to spend your evening. Choose between a multitude of clients with their own varying stories. Clients that are close by will cost less time, but won’t pay as much, while those further away will yield larger rewards but kill more time. Not only do you have to choose between clients, you also have to visit a gas station every so often to keep your vehicle running. Each action will take from your remaining time. Once the night ends, you return home and look over your information. Your desk is covered in files with key information gathered from clients and other characters you’ve met, while a cork board hangs on your wall with strings connecting suspects to crime scenes and motives straight up conspiracy style. 

This is a fairly solid gameplay loop. I enjoyed picking up clients and hearing their unique stories. It was cool trying to steer the dialogue in such a way that they’d reveal new information that I could use to solve the case. Night Call actually features a “Passidex” that compiles every character you’ve met along with vital information about your interactions with them. This was helpful log that I often referenced when trying to deduce potential killers. Unfortunately, this nightly routine grew a bit stale. There was a point where I was bored of all the mundane cab driver bits and was just hoping I was close to the next major story beat. I understood what the devs were going for in the balancing of a typical life with trying to catch a murderer, but one side proved to be much more entertaining than the other. 

On that note, the gameplay loop quickly begins to feel repetitive, which would be much more tolerable if it was satisfying or exciting. I would’ve liked to see more go into the taxi driver aspect of Night Call to make it feel worthwhile. Leaning further into the simulation side of it could’ve added needed layers of strategy.

Justice is served

All in all, Night Call sets itself up with an inspired idea and premise. The concept of a man living the simple life as a city taxi driver going through regular life while trying to catch a sinister serial killer is fascinating. When the different systems are firing on all cylinders and you can see the mystery unraveling, it’s a wonder to see. On the down side, the cabbie sim gameplay gets boring and the gameplay loop grows repetitive quickly.


This review is based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. Night Call is now available on Steam for $19.99

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. Donovan is currently studying broadcast journalism at Bowie State University with hopes to join the Shacknews team full time after graduation. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Review for
Night Call
7
Pros
  • Fun investigation system
  • Well written story
  • Replayability
Cons
  • Cab driver aspect is boring
  • Gameplay quickly gets repetetive
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