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Night Call

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
Night Call Game Poster Image
Great Parisian storytelling, but clunky mystery solving.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

While the basic plot revolves around hunting down a serial killer before he can strike again, the conversations that happen in the cab between characters express hope, determination, courage, love, and even respect. Topics cover everything from in vitro fertilization and people falling in love to covering humitarian crises.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is a taxi driver that was attacked by a murderer. He reluctantly participates in investigation and has to piece together what happened to him and others. He can be nice or mean to passengers, but it's up to the player to define him. Other characters can be mean or helpful based on your dialogue choices.

Ease of Play

Selecting dialogue options and places to go are simple point and click affairs, although your cab sometimes gets confused if many fares are close together. Uncovering the mystery and selecting the right suspect can seem completely hit or miss.

Violence

While there are descriptions of the attacks on the player and other victims, and some silhouetted images of violence, nothing graphic or bloody is ever shown.

Sex

Some conversations revolve around sex – one character is a porn star, another couple are looking for a hotel. While dialogue can be suggestive, nothing is seen or pursued.

Language

Some instances of strong swearing throughout dialogue, including "f—k" and "bitch."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Discussion about characters being drunk, but virtually nothing's shown. Characters do smoke, though.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Night Call is a mystery adventure game for Windows PCs. Players take on the role of a nameless cab driver in Paris who's the lone survivor of an attack by a serial killer. Players will drive the streets, collecting fares and talking to people in an attempt to find the person that assaulted them, but while the navigation and conversation controls are point and click, figuring out the mystery can be a confusing process. There are descriptions of attacks on the player and victims, and some silhouetted scenes of violence, but no blood or gore is shown. Similarly, some conversations revolve around sex with flirtatious language, and some descriptions from a porn star, but nothing's shown. There are also discussions about characters being drunk or smoking, but virtually nothing is shown. Dialogue can be strong, with instances of "f—k" and "bitch" used in comments.

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What's it about?

NIGHT CALL is a mystery adventure that's set in Paris, and casts players as a cab driver trapped in a seemingly impossible situation. A serial killer has been racking up a body count in the streets, and you were one of his latest targets, but unlike all of the others, you managed to survive. Unfortunately, since the police haven't been able to catch the killer, a number of them believe that you, an ex-con, may be the killer himself, trying to throw them off the trail. As a result, one of the detectives gives you an offer that you can't reject: either you help them with their investigation into who the real killer is, or they'll arrest you and charge you with all of the murders. You'll receive a basic set of clues, but you'll also need to gather hints and leads from the fares that you pick up, trying to make enough money to keep your cab in operation so you can pay your bills. It's up to you to figure out which riders have info to help you catch the killer, and which ones simply have interesting tales to tell. Can you catch the killer, or will your luck run out?

Is it any good?

While the stories in this mystery are very compelling, the crime solving and detective work leaves much to be desired. You're not an elite soldier, a superspy, or a skilled assassin in Night Call. Instead, you're an ex-con trying to put his life back together by driving a cab. That's where the incredible stories start – you wouldn't expect it during the night shift, but you're exposed to lawyers defending terrorists, political firebrands, police officers struggling with personal secrets, and much more. Those are just the tame tales you'll encounter, without including the supernatural experiences that the cabbie seems to go through (are they hallucinations, or is something actually going on in streets?). Plus, as you start picking up the same fare, they'll open up to you more, sharing their stories in a kind of mobile therapy session. It's striking to see people unburden themselves like this, and fascinating when you can suggest something or make a comment that helps them with their problems, especially when the content is handled in a respectful and fascinating way.

Unfortunately, the crime solving isn't nearly as engaging or as intuitive. It feels like it's a stretch that random cab fares will have any sense of what's going on in an investigation to give you the clues you need to pin down the murderer. In fact, the clues that do pop up seem so disconnected from some stories that it's hard to figure out why they might be relevant. On top of that, manipulating and interacting with your clue board in your apartment feels so confusing that it can frequently be easier to just let the game make connections on its own. Also, the killer for a case doesn't seem to be randomized from case to case, so once you discover who did it (often by chance instead of by deduction), you won't return to play apart from learning more of the stories. It's unfortunate, because Night Call has intriguing stories to tell, but the mystery misses the mark.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Night Call affected by lack of visual violence in the game? Would the impact of the violence be intensified if the violence was shown instead of only described?

  • Why do you think people sometimes talk to strangers during travel situations? Is it trying to be empathetic to other people, or is it a way of passing time?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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