I’ve finished my 239th video game. Here are my thoughts:
Night Call is a short game about a taxi driver named Houssine who is investigating a serial murder case in Paris. The game plays in two phases. The first is a taxi management simulation, where you pick from the available fares on a map, and then chat with them as you drive them to their destination. The management simulation is a fun—though simplistic—gamified loop. The conversations play out like vignettes that range from silly to somber; from social commentary to sincere comradery. They are the highlight of the game.
The second phase involves using a bulletin board to arrange clues that are attached to suspects. As Houssine hears rumors about the killer, the bulletin board gets populated with more clues. After about a week, you must pick one of the suspects to arrest. This part of the game doesn’t really require any decision-making from the player, at least not at the normal difficulty level. Rather, you’re watching Houssine put the pieces together. This recurring segment of the game serves as a framing device for the rest of the game. While it may not be very complex or compelling on its own, it doesn’t get in the way of the game’s charm. And I think the ending of the case payed of nicely.
If you really enjoy the first case, there are two others that you can play. However, the inciting event is reused for of each of the cases in the game, which makes subsequent playthroughs feel like alternate versions of the same narrative… rather than multiple parts of a single story. It seems as though Night Call was intended to be experienced as a single case, played once and only once.
Night Call benefits from its brevity. The charm and style of the game’s writing and atmosphere are perfect for 4 hour game.
I’ve tentatively ranked it 172 out of 239.