I love a good psychological horror thriller! The constant twists and turns and the repeated jump scares, get the blood pumping. Yes, they can be clichéd, and occasionally the plot can dip into the realms of absurdity, but I still adore them. Night Book ticks all those boxes with its outlandish story and tense setting.
Developed by Good Gate Media and Wales Interactive and published by the latter, this is a cinematic visual novel with limited choices. As with most VNs, you’ll sit back, relax, and watch the story unravel. You have some limited choices to make that influence the story and alter the central path, but the outcome isn’t always clear. It’s very disjointed, has a distinct remote feel to it, but this oddly matches the central concept.
Night Book is a bizarre story filmed during the Covid pandemic.
The Covid pandemic ensured the world came to a grinding halt, but Night Book’s developers bucked this trend. Filmed entirely through remote methods, the team and the actors produced an incredible performance that enhanced the creepy nature of this story. Shown entirely through a selection of webcams and video calls, you’ll sit back and watch the horror unfold. Depicting scenes of violence and suicide, a clear warning is displayed at the start of the action. Depending on your choices, the victims of these horrific ordeals will change and that’s part of the beauty of this game.
You control Loralyn, who is a talented linguist employed to translate a variety of languages. The heroine is heavily pregnant and her partner is working on a remote island on the other side of the world. She is left to care for her “mentally ill” father, who complains of voices and a curse from the island that the plot revolves around. CCTV has been installed throughout the flat and it’s through these lenses that we see the story unfold. Loralyn’s decisions slowly push the plot to its inevitable ending and the Butterfly Effect ripples through the tale.
Great acting tainted by veiled decisions.
With fifteen different endings and two hundred and twenty scenes to witness, this is a short story with plenty of content. You’ll uncomfortably watch the drama flit from camera to camera as the unnerving story trickles away. You feel powerless to direct the tale how you want as the crucial plot points come randomly and infrequently.
When the options to influence the story arise, you rarely know how your decisions will impact the plotline. This was frustrating, especially when you replay the game to manipulate a different ending. Alongside the veiled decisions were the unexplained gaps in the story that were confusing, and this undermined the final product.
Night Book is well written, produced to a good standard, and has likeable, realistic characters.
Using movie-like cinematic at its core will always be tough. However, the blend between live-action and key moments was smooth enough, but it had its problems. With the action hanging slightly at critical moments, it was noticeable, and this impacted the immersion ever so slightly. I was impressed with the use of special effects to highlight the plight of the protagonist and subsequent characters. The presentation via monitors and mobile devices was excellent and added a cold and isolated layer to the gameplay.
Subtitles were available throughout, which helped in key scenes. However, they weren’t always necessary and acted as a distraction. This was no more apparent than the moments when subtitles were used on instant messaging scenes. Having the written words displayed twice was ridiculous, and it made the final product appear unfinished.
When you read a visual novel or watch a film, you want the script to be well written and the characters to be believable. Night Book offers that and much more. The acting is delivered to a good standard and you’ll love and loathe the array of characters. Using haunting music and creepy sound effects helps to create an eerie and dark atmosphere during each scene. You’ll soak up the horrendous twists and turns as you go along for the ride.
Pressurised decisions and ample replay value.
The gameplay in Night Book forces you to sit back and watch it unfold. The controls are therefore understandably basic and easy to pick up. Yet, there are moments where you must think fast and you’ll be pressurised into deciding. Loralyn has some tough decisions to make, and this is reflected using a quick-moving timer. Tick-tock, tick-tock, make your choice and see how it impacts the gameplay.
Having fifteen different endings to observe is fantastic, and it does wonders for the replay value. The developers have thankfully added in a skip button for any previously seen scenes and this mercifully cuts down the expected feeling of deja vu. You observe some grim moments when you experience every finale and the extra effort is well worth your time.
Night Book is a “pleasant” break away from normal visual novels.
I’m not a visual novel aficionado, but I know what to expect when I play one. Night Book was a “pleasant” change from the norm and I was captivated by it. Sadly, there are some unpolished elements, but it’s a well-produced title, mostly. I enjoyed it and I recommend you to buy it here! With an island curse, demonic beings, and tough decisions, a pregnant woman shouldn’t be put under this sort of pressure.