Also On: PC
Developer: Nude Maker
I really don?t want to criticize NightCry. I mean, the Vita getting a console exclusive in 2019? As someone who still loves and plays Sony?s ill-fated handheld years after most people gave up on it, that warms my heart. The thought of criticizing a game that was intentionally ported over to the system seems like heresy to me. This many years in, I want to take whatever I can get on the Vita.
But…man, NightCry is bad.
Some of this may be by design. After all, NightCry is intended as a spiritual successor to the Clock Tower series of the mid- to late-?90s, written and directed by very same person who masterminded those games. While I never played any of them, I have played games of a similar (if slightly more recent) vintage, and I wouldn?t exactly say that those have aged all that well. If NightCry looks and plays and sounds like some of those games from 15-20 years ago, in a certain respect, you could say it succeeded.
But in another, more accurate respect, you?d have to say that this game is terrible. Just atrociously bad in every respect, with zero redeeming qualities whatsoever.
You?ll realize this about five seconds into playing the game for the first time. NightCry is basically a point-and-click adventure game with a few action sequences scattered throughout. The very first thing you encounter after starting the game up is a brief cutscene, followed by an opportunity to explore a small room. During this brief sequence, you learn that:
a) the voice actors sound about as natural as, say, porn actors — which, quite frankly, is probably unfair to porn actors;
b) they?re reading a script that sounds like it went back and forth through Google Translate one too many times;
c) they sound like they all read their parts completely independently of each other, and then someone with no audio editing experience spliced the audio clips together;
d) you have no control over the game?s camera, and instead you?re at the mercy of someone who is actively trying to make you throw up from abrupt shifts in perspective; and
e) literally everything you do will cause a loading screen.
Just to remove any hint of drama: it doesn?t get any better the further in you get.
The loading screens are probably the game?s most egregious sin — which is really saying something, considering how bad NightCry is at literally everything. The loading times rather from acceptably brief (i.e. when you just want to examine a highlighted object, they?re over in a relative flash) to so bad, you think the game may just never come back. Unfortunately for the game, these latter examples seem to come at the worst possible times, like when NightCry is trying to create tension or drama. Like, the first time the game?s main monster, Scissorman, shows up, you can tell the game is trying to gross you out with some gratuitously over-the-top gore. Unfortunately, the impact is lessened when it?s immediately followed by a loading screen that just goes on…and on…and on…for what feels like a few minutes (but may, in fact, just be one minute). The game never misses a chance to kill its own momentum, which may explain why everything else is so grating.
Then again, plenty of those other things are bad enough on their own that they?d probably be grating even with perfect load times. One of the other big offenders, for example, is the nausea-inducing camera. You never know when moving to a certain place will trigger a sudden shift in perspective, and bring with it a sudden change in walking direction. Given that a considerable portion of the game is spent running from Scissorman, you can see why running one way only to suddenly have the camera shift on you and send you running in the wrong direction would constitute a major flaw.
Also a major flaw: the horrible running (which is probably more accurately described as ?wobbly lurching, but I digress). Your character has a limited amount of stamina, which is fine — except, near as I can tell, it doesn?t give you a stamina metre. It?s just up to you to figure out, without anything in the way of clues, when your character will suddenly flop to the ground and give Scissorman ample time to catch up to you and slice you to death. And as a bonus, you never know when Scissorman will show up, so the game will just kill you off whenever it feels like.
The crazy thing about NightCry is that it?s not hard to imagine a world in which it actually turned out okay. It?s got an impressive pedigree, and manages to be a little spooky in spite of itself, so if it had been made a little more expertly, it could easily have lived up to its promise.
It wasn?t made any better than this, though, and we?ve got to grade NightCry on what it is, not what it could have been in some fantastical alternate universe. And the sad truth is, in this world, NightCry is one of the worst games I?ve ever experienced.
Playism provided us with a NightCry PS Vita code for review purposes.