‘Graphical adventure’ was a description that came back to haunt many games developers in the early years of multimedia, since it almost always meant a sad, clunky excuse for a game with lots of poor quality video footage connected together with the gaming equivalent of bits of string and Sellotape. But there have been one or two gems, mainly those where the developers wisely put gameplay and atmosphere above pretty graphics and video content. Nightlong is one such shining jewel; an intelligent and atmospheric adventure game that makes a welcome change from the current crop of frantic shoot-’em-up titles.
In Nightlong, you play the part of Joshua Reev, a private investigator who’s so cool that he wears wrap-around shades even in the permanent dusk of Union City. Called in as payment for an old debt, you have to infiltrate a dodgy terrorist organisation and stop them from, well, killing people and nasty things like that. Wandering around a well-crafted world that takes more than a few cues from Blade Runner, achieving that goal requires considerable persistence in searching for, and using, clues. You control Joshua using a pretty simple point-and-click interface, complete with the obligatory inventory. It’s well-programmed and highly intuitive.
What sets this game apart from others of its type is the carefully-crafted storyline, which has been combined with some atmospheric graphics and an ambient score. There are over 80 locations and five levels to explore, ranging from an Underground Zoo to the Virtual Fun Fair and even a prison. Since this wouldn’t be an adventure game without a certain amount of mental challenge, there are plenty of puzzles to impede your progress. Some of these are quite easy, and some are considerably less so, but the developers have at least ensured that, if you try hard enough, logic should be enough to see you through.