In the 90s, the Japanese Clock Tower series was one of the brightest and most interesting examples of video game horror. Thanks to the eerie atmosphere and an abundance of original ideas, she was able to gain popularity among many gamers who wanted to tickle their nerves. But with the advent of the new millennium, the "Clock Tower" suffered a sad fate. Human Entertainment (which was developing games) ceased to exist, its legacy was torn apart by Capcom and SunSoft (one company bought the rights to the Clock Tower trademark, the other received the rights to games and characters), and then the series slowly faded after the release of the "non-canon" third part.
However, over the years, fans continue to wait, hope and believe that someday their favorite horror will be reborn again. And, oddly enough, they did. In September 2014, Hifumi Kono (creator and) suddenly announced the start of development of a new game called "NightCry", which should become the ideological successor of Clock Tower. Again the maniac with huge scissors returns, again the concept of complete defenselessness, and even the old-school point & amp; click interface is back again. In general, everything is according to the canons of the early parts.
The game was developed with a very small budget and was originally aimed at mobile platforms. But in the end, gamers managed to reorient the developers and make it easier for them to release the game on the PC. And just recently the long-awaited release of the computer version took place. Was the game scary and interesting? How good is her storyline? Did the creators manage to meet expectations and make a worthy successor to Clock Tower? Let's find out the answers to these questions.
Plot and characters
NightCry events unfold in the summer of 2016 on the passenger ship "Oceanus". A quiet, calm tourist trip suddenly turns into tragedy when a terrible monster appears on board the ship, cutting people to pieces with huge metal scissors. Moreover, the matter was not limited to only one monster. Also, a mysterious ghostly girl begins to wander along the corridors, flocks of unusual butterflies with dark red wings flicker in the cabins, and in addition, some people in strange masks appear on the ship. Will we be able to unravel the mystery of the events and get out alive from the ship?
In my opinion, the plot is the strongest side of NightCry. It is not perfect, but it makes you follow the development of events with great interest throughout the game. I will briefly list the main advantages of the plot:
1) Intrigue. From the very first minutes, a large number of secrets and questions arise, the answers to which we have to look for right up to the very end.
2) Interesting scenes. There are many bright, memorable and well-directed moments in NightCry.
3) There are 8 endings in the game. And also more than 15 situations when we can act differently and by our actions influence the further development of events.
4) I liked how the authors create an atmosphere of mutual distrust between the characters. Every time we meet the passengers of the ship, doubts involuntarily arise: is it worth trusting this person? What if he is somehow involved in the ongoing events?
5) The dialogues turned out to be quite curious. You can see many symbolic phrases and hints in them, which become clear only on the second playthrough.
6) There is a wide range of innuendos in the story. Even after the end credits, there are still questions that you can reflect on yourself.
Now about the shortcomings of the script
1) The selection of characters turned out to be rather weak. Of all the participants in the story, only Rooney evokes sympathy and empathy (well, maybe a little more Leonard). And the minor characters are already very flat and schematic. When they die, in most cases you don't feel any emotion. And this is a very offensive defect, because even in a semi-comedic movie, the victims of maniacs evoked more sympathy.
2) Towards the end, the script starts to get pretty crumpled. One gets the impression that the creators did not meet the development timeline and they had to "speed up" the plot by cutting out part of the intended scenes from it (in general, it should be noted that at the end the game looks unfinished).
3) The endings, apparently , were also created in great haste. They turned out to be extremely short (only 15-20 seconds), and in some cases they look indistinct and not too logical.
4) English translation in NightCry leaves much to be desired. Because of this, some dialogue can sound strange and unnatural. Sometimes there are typos. The names of some heroes are not translated correctly. And even in the final dialogue, the localizers managed to miss an important phrase that affects the understanding of the plot (they simply forgot to translate it, lol).
In terms of gameplay, the game follows the traditions of the early parts of Clock Tower. We wander around the ship, explore the world around us through the Point & amp; Click interface, communicate with other passengers, collect useful items, solve puzzles, and periodically run away and hide from the bloodthirsty monster ScissorWalker.
But not without a couple of innovations. First, the heroes can now look back on the run - when you turn around and see how a maniac with huge scissors is chasing you, this helps to make the chase scene more intense. And secondly, now a special item has appeared in the game - a cell phone. It can be used to call different people, get hints for solving puzzles, and in addition, it can be used as a flashlight to illuminate dark rooms. Most likely, both of these innovations were inspired by the game (there were similar gameplay features. And in general SHSM is very close in spirit to Night Cry).
In general, the gameplay is done quite well. Its main plus is an interesting exploration of the surrounding world. The scenes of escape from the ScissorWalker also turned out to be quite fascinating (and the monster itself is very cool and memorable. By the way, the well-known artist Masahiro Ito worked on its design). You can find minor problems with the camera and control in the game, but they are forgivable for a low-budget horror project and do not really interfere.
But what is disappointing is the hide-and-seek system. In NightCry, it is poorly developed and suffers from several significant flaws:
1) Too few places to hide. At one location, there are usually only 3-4 shelters, so there is almost no room for imagination. Apparently, the creators simply did not have enough time to add more shelters to the game.
2) There are almost no "unsuccessful" places for hide and seek in NightCry do not climb). The developers should have paid more attention to this aspect.
3) Now you can hide even when the heroine is right in front of the pursuer (in previous games it was impossible to do this). And although the monster perfectly saw where you were stuck, he will still magically forget about it. On the one hand, this makes the game simpler, but on the other hand, the feeling of realism is lost.
4) All appearances of the ScissorWalker are completely scripted. It can only be found in strictly defined places. He doesn't appear to randomly appear like ScissorMan's, or Maniacs's. This is a significant step back from previous games.
5) In addition, the ScissorWalker appears extremely rarely. During the entire game, you can meet him only 7-10 times (despite the fact that the passage of the game lasts 8-9 hours). Because of this, the system of hide and seek in NightCry actually fades into the background.
Technical implementation and bugs
Perhaps the biggest drawback of NightCry is its lopsided technical implementation. There were only 2 programmers in the development team, and this was clearly not enough. As a result, the game is poorly optimized, has overestimated system requirements, sometimes slows down, and also contains a bunch of bugs. I will list the most unpleasant of them:
1) The game may suddenly crash on the splash screens or when trying to use some items.
2) It may freeze during loading and when inspecting certain objects.
3) Some sound the effects can "stick" and repeat indefinitely (can only be healed by rebooting).
4) You can be locked in the room, because the cursor suddenly stops responding to the door.
5) In the final dialogue, the voice acting sometimes does not work.
6) On the lower graphic settings, all the text in the subtitles for some reason becomes vague.
At the time of writing this review, these bugs have not yet been fixed. But it should be noted that the creators do not abandon work on their brainchild and periodically release patches. Perhaps in a couple of months they will still bring NightCry to a more decent state.
Graphics & Sound
In terms of graphics, NightCry looks like a 7-8 year old video game and looks like a cross between and. Considering that the game is very low-budget and was originally aimed at mobile phones, then such graphics can be considered quite acceptable.
However, the quality of the locations and characters varies greatly. Some of the locations are well designed and fun to explore. And some - clearly molded in haste (especially towards the end of the game). The same goes for character animation. ScissorWalker looks cool and very realistic, but the animation quality of other characters ranges from "good" to "disgusting" depending on the specific scene. Particularly awful are the dialogue screensavers in the third episode - there the secondary characters have unnatural movements, wooden faces and fish eyes, looking somewhere into the void. This enhances the feeling that the game is unfinished.
The sound design also leaves an ambiguous impression. In the first chapter it is done perfectly, in the second chapter - on the four, and the last third chapter evokes sad suspicions that the developers have forgotten to add sound to it at all.
As for the voice acting, NightCry has two dubbing options to choose from. The Japanese voice acting is very high quality, the English one is worse (but you can listen to it). However, even here there were some strange flaws. The fact is that only half of the dialogues are voiced in the game, and the rest are voiceless. What prevented the developers from dubbing all the scenes is completely incomprehensible (especially considering that there are not so many dialogues in the game). In my opinion, it would be much better if the authors made one full voice acting instead of two "half" ones.
NightCry is not a particularly scary game - widespread flaws and bugs do not allow you to plunge into the game so that it really scares. There are tense moments here and in some places you feel a gloomy and eerie atmosphere, but all this varies greatly depending on the specific episode:
1) The first chapter turned out to be the most atmospheric and interesting. This is, in fact, the best part of the game.
2) In the second chapter, the atmosphere sags a lot. ScissorWalker never appears here, there is no danger, so we just wander around the locations and solve simple logic puzzles. In general, the 2nd episode seemed boring to me - only the original setting and the abundance of curious and informative comments by Leonard save it from complete despondency.
3) The third chapter evokes mixed feelings. It begins very well and atmospheric, but then quickly merges due to its frank incompleteness (although it should be noted that the final scene turned out to be really creepy and memorable).
NightCry very carefully follows the traditions of the classic Clock Towers, but is significantly inferior to its predecessors due to its buggy, crooked and unfinished design. Personally, NightCry pleased me thanks to the nostalgic factor (it's nice to see the continuation of one of my favorite horror films and to meet the scissor maniac again), as well as thanks to the intriguing plot - but I must admit that the overall game turned out to be rather weak. Therefore, I can only recommend it to two categories of gamers. The first category is the hardcore Clock Tower fans who have been waiting for the new part of the series for many years and are ready to close their eyes even to very serious flaws. And the second is for fans of "plot" horror, for whom an interesting scenario is more important than anything else.