If you would have asked me a few years ago which video game console would be my go-to while locked inside during a pandemic, the Nintendo Switch wouldn’t have been first on my list. Well, here we are and no one is more surprised than I.
Initially, The Switch didn’t do much to “wow” me as I’m not a huge fan of Nintendo’s first-party games. Sure, they’re all absolute legends but The Switch for me was primarily a lean, mean port playing machine. I could not WAIT to play The Witcher on The Switch (The Switcher) because it was The Witcher…ON THE SWITCH. Who cares if it was a huge graphical downgrade from the PS4 version? I could now take it with me anywhere I went.
I recently played BioShock and BioShock 2 on The Switch and it most definitely was BioShock…ON THE SWITCH. After two back-to-back FPS games, I desperately needed a palate cleanser and I turned to what I now consider to be The Switch’s best feature: its huge selection of indie games.
Night Call is exactly the game I needed at exactly the right time. Here’s the synopsis:
“Night Call puts you behind the wheel of a Paris taxi cab on the late shift, where a mysterious serial killer is stalking the streets. As a survivor of the killer’s most recent attack, you have seven nights to unravel the mystery by interacting with over 90 potential story-driven characters. Use your limited time each day to learn about their lives, gather clues, and identify the culprit. Whether you’re on the case or not, you’ll discover after-hours Paris is filled with a huge variety of unique people and tales just waiting for a ride.”
The game is a fantastic “narrative-driven neo-noir” detective story that immediately grabbed me with its storytelling. You drive around Paris, pick up fares, and engage them in conversation all the while gathering clues. You get to stop and gas up your cab, take breaks to read the paper (for clues!), all before returning to your flat at the end of your shift to assemble a working theory on who the killer may be.
The writing in the game is top-notch and the brief interactions you have with your passengers are all unique and memorable. At present, I’m still working my first case but I’ve found the world to be incredibly engrossing and the game is hard to put down. The game is heavy on the noir atmosphere and it totally works for it. A lesser production would have come off as a parody of the genre but Night Call inhabits the noir world without falling prey to any of the genres well-known tropes.
Minor quibble time: as this is a port of a PC game I do miss what I would assume would be keyboard and mouse functionality for some of the game mechanics. For example, when connecting clues to characters on your corkboard the left analog stick is used and I found that to be a tad clunky. It’s not unmanageable but I would have preferred to use the touchscreen to make the connections.
Night Call is now available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One & Xbox Game Pass.