NightCry (PS Vita) Review

By Albert Lichi 07.04.2019

Review for NightCry on PS Vita

Clock Tower was a landmark horror game on the Super Famicom. It combined elements of a graphic point-and-click adventure with branching paths and survival. Pushing some of the most detailed sprite animations seen on 16-bit hardware, there was nothing like it at the time, and would never be officially released in the west. It wouldn't be until the PlayStation where the sequel would gain a cult following. The sequel, Clock Tower was a victim of hitting the polygon ceiling pretty badly. Its visuals may not have aged all that well, but the core gameplay can still be enjoyed by horror gamers today. After Clock Tower 3, and its spiritual successor, Haunting Ground, abandoned their point-and-click roots, the original director Hifumi Kono sought to revive what made the first two Clock Tower games so special, and even bring in some star talent to realize his vision. NightCry on PS Vita should have been the ultimate in portable terror. Instead it is just terror-able.

Everything was seemingly perfect. Hijumi Kono had already proved himself with the original Clock Tower games on Super Famicom and PlayStation, as well as working with Platinum Games on Infinite Space. He recruited the masterful creature design Masahiro Ito of Silent Hill trilogy fame, and designer Chris Darril, who would go on to make Remothered: Tormented Fathers. Kono even got Nobuko Toda, who is best remembered for composing Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, to join forces with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night's composer, Michiru Yamane, for the music. As if that wasn't enough, filmmaker Takashi Shimizu, who was best known for directing The Grudge movies, was on board as one of the designers. The absurd pedigree that NightCry had working behind it was seemingly bullet-proof. Where did everything go wrong?

Somewhere deep inside NightCry is a good game screaming to get out. It is buried under the tons of Swery-like junk, and a lack of polish that sometimes breaks the game to an unplayable state. Perhaps at one point during development, funds completely ran out, and nobody could hire play-testers or keep the programmers on staff to squash bugs and glitches. The frequent and often lengthy load times? Small potatoes in the grand scheme of NightCry's issues. No lip flap when characters speak? A minor nitpick compared to wall textures strobing and scrambling. Low resolution and ugly muddy textures? A petty complaint next to the woefully low and erratic frame rate that drops to single digits while being pursued by a one-hit kill monster. The list of issues can go on and on. The inventory tab breaking and not working to a point where the game needs to be closed and restarted is an unforgivable bug that happens too often.

Screenshot for NightCry on PS Vita

The whole things feels like a glitch because of how choppy everything is; characters popping into view like a slide show as the game's architecture makes the poor PS Vita cough and wheeze as it's stressed to get this game running at all. This is not really a demanding title at all, since most of the environments are simplistic and do not look far off from being an early Dreamcast title. There are only a handful of models seen in any given area, none of which are elaborate by PS Vita standards. Textures are often a blurry and muddy mess that barely resemble what they are suppose to represent. The best looking elements are the character models, which wouldn't be out of place in a PlayStation 2 launch game. Often it feels like walking on glass bare-foot in the dark when playing NightCry; no matter how carefully you step, it is always painful and things go wrong.

Gameplay is made up of two phases: chases which are frequently amusing trials of error and the traditional adventure game format of finding key-items. Chases can be triggered in various ways; exploring, investigating or pushing the plot along. These moments would be very enjoyable if NightCry didn't become an epilepsy inducing slide-show. Walking around to examine objects is perplexing because users have to cycle through the intractable points of interest using the Vita's shoulder buttons and then press circle. Having the player-character in close proximity and examining would have been too logical and simplistic. Later in the second chapter some stealth gets mixed in with dire results, and the third and longest chapter feels the most thought-out in terms of puzzle design and characterisation in a game that is almost exclusively full of unlikeable characters. It is not a good sign that a survival-horror's most sympathetic and likeable character is the monster. Monica is a drunken superficial floozy who has the most "blonde" flavour text ever written for a female. Leonard is an old bumbling stooge, and Rooney is a very stereotypical mousy girl who barely has any backbone. It would be so bad it's awesome, if only the game wasn't choking on itself to breath.

Screenshot for NightCry on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

2/10
Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

NightCry should have been classic, instead it's an acquired taste... too bad the taste is rot. If it weren't for the outrageous density of technical issues, this would have been a very enjoyable guilty pleasure horror title. Even as is, the core content is substantial, and even has a Zero Escape style flow chart that tracks the various branching paths and bad endings. The kills and creative deaths are actually very entertaining, and even the bizarre acting ends up working for the lack of budget. Maybe one day it can be salvaged into the cult hit people would love, since it is very clear that the ones behind NightCry really did care about what they were making. It is a shame that their vision is suffocating under the weight of so many technical flaws.

Developer

Nude Maker

Publisher

Playism

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  2/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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