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Night Book Review

Official Score

Overall - 40%

40%

If you’ve got the slightest interest in the horror genre, you’ve already seen what Night Book has to offer. The idea of a full motion video tale with multiple endings is a noble one, but the poor acting and breakneck pace ruin its chances of ever standing out.

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The almighty Ash Williams taught horror aficionados to never read cursed books, but Good Gate Media and Wales Interactive must not be Evil Dead fans after releasing their new title Night Book. A full motion video tale about an evil tome, is this occult tale devilishly good or unspeakably bad?

Night Book Review

Things aren’t going so hot for the protagonist Loralyn. She’s struggling with her translation work at Glossa Lingua, she’s getting a little worried about her pregnancy, her partner Pearce is working hard on the Le Pouce development, and her father Alecis is struggling with mental health issues.

However, things quickly go from bad to worse when an ancient book written in Kannar is read aloud. After the words of this tome are spoken, evil spirits possess Loralyn’s father and make her life a living hell.

It’s a tale horror fans have no doubt seen before in classic media, and Night Book does nothing new to stand out. The development team stated that the title was filmed entirely in lockdown, and it shows. Outside of a few special effects, the entirety of the game is shown through webcams on a computer pointing to rooms, apartments, and offices. This isn’t so bad in and of itself – Paranormal Activity used a similar approach to great success – but it just feels amateurish in this case.

The poor acting makes things that much worse. Everybody in Night Book just feels bored reading the script, lacking any sort of emotion with danger afoot. Moments where Loralyn is supposed to be hysterical make it seem like she was unprepared. There are a lot of awkward pauses mid-line too across multiple members of the cast, making it seem like they forgot their lines or the teleprompter acted up. Even moments with possession lack the punch needed to really seal the deal.

As players progress through this FMV adventure, they’ll have a limited time to choose between two different options. Some are a bit more on the tame side, like choosing whether to translate something literally or interpret the general meeting. However, there are other choices that determine things on a grander scale, like whether to give her father a sedative. Every key junction lets players know from the get-go, with a “Butterfly Effect” notification popping up after each major branch.

While these choices help add some variety – there are 15 different endings and 223 scenes in all – Night Book suffers from the illusion of choice. There were times where our choices led to awkward scenarios, making it feel like our decisions really didn’t matter. It’s understandable with a full motion video title like this that has so many different options, but the title should have been more diligent in tying up these loose ends.

It’s not like players will be diving into this title for the long haul, however; our initial playthrough clocked in at less than an hour. While this was no doubt done to encourage replayability, it also forces the title along at a breakneck pace. There’s little at stake when a conflict is solved in 10 minutes, and some of the things that occur will make people confused as to the sheer speed of it all. Some sort of transition would have gone a long way.

If you’ve got the slightest interest in the horror genre, you’ve already seen what Night Book has to offer. The idea of a full motion video tale with multiple endings is a noble one, but the poor acting and breakneck pace ruin its chances of ever standing out.

This review of Night Book was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
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Casey Scheld

Drawn to the underground side of gaming, Casey helps the lesser known heroes of video games. If you’ve never heard of it, he’s mastered it.
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