Review – NightCry (PS Vita)

The fact we’re reviewing a PS Vita game in 2019 is almost making me feel emotional. I love the Vita, maybe even more than its direct competitor, the 3DS. But the poor thing has never managed to live up to its full potential, mostly due to Sony’s lack of faith and continued support. While Vita still gets a lot of Japanese titles, such as NIS America games, you don’t see games like NightCry released very often.

A polygonal blend of survival horror with point and click elements originally released for PC in 2016, NightCry is the spiritual successor to Clock Tower and was even developed by some former staff. Sadly, what could have been a great addition to the Vita’s library ended up being a tremendous disappointment.

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You surely are though.

NightCry takes a lot of inspirations from the worst clichés you can find in B-horror movies. It’s set inside a cruise ship, you play as dumb teenagers or even the fact one of them is a hot blonde with cleavage the size of the San Andreas fault who’s wearing high heels in order to sprint away from danger not easily.

There are a few things NightCry does well. They designed a point-and-click game with control scheme that’s well adjusted less for a controller. The shoulder buttons quickly alternate between interactive objects and with the simple click of the action button your character walks directly to that object. Sadly, this is all I can praise NightCry for. It falls flat on pretty much every other aspect.

Yes, it does a good job in making a point and click game less complicated on a controller, but don’t forget that the Vita already has a damn touchscreen. You can use the screen to click on a few yes/no buttons, as well as a little inventory button whenever you find an item. That is, if the actual inventory button appears onscreen, as it took me three loading attempts for the bloody thing to appear. Otherwise, a key hardware feature goes under utilized in a game it was practically designed for.

NightCry is extremely glitchy and one of the least optimized games I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I have ever seen that many loading screens in a game, and bear in mind I own a Neo Geo CD console. Want to talk to an NPC? Loading screen. Want to open a door? Loading screen. Want to interact with a door just to find out it’s locked? Loading screen before and after the cutscene. Actually important cutscene with one of the few instances of dialogue in the game? A literal minute-long loading screen featuring a trophy unlock message that actually spoils what’s about to happen in the following cutscene.

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Party like it’s a 2003 shovelware title.

Another major point of complaint is the way NightCry handles its survival horror elements. As a spiritual successor to Clock Tower, you also have to run away from a monster wielding a nonsensically large pair of scissors. There are some good intentions in how these sections are handled, as you can look over your shoulder and see how far away the enemy is, but that’s about it. The rest of these sections are completely abysmal, since you can’t run very fast without the risk of tripping and not being able to get back up for some unexplained reason. Or there is the risk of going through some poorly coded touchscreen-based quick-time event in order to escape from the enemy’s grasp in case should it catch you. The framerates in these sections are absolutely abysmal. Couple that with the PS2-quality graphics and glitchy sound department, and you can already imagine the end result.

While I’m glad that there are developers still attempting to bring their games to the Vita, I’m beyond disappointed with NightCry. There aren’t many horror games for the system and this could have been an excellent addition to a library in need, but Vita owners deserve better than this. NightCry has some good ideas but the execution is nothing short of disastrous. It’s extremely glitchy and at times borderline unplayable.

 

Graphics: 4.0

As a positive note, it runs at a decent framerate when you’re not trying to run away from the scissorman. Too bad it looks like an early PS2 game at the very best.

Gameplay: 5.5

There are some great control designs like using shoulder buttons to quickly scroll through interactive objects, but there’s also a lot of missed opportunities to use the Vita’s touchscreen.

Sound: 4.0

The voice acting could have been a lot worse, but the game has an excessive amount of sound glitches.

Fun Factor: 2.0

There are some neat ideas here, but NightCry is too glitchy and unpolished, making it an unenjoyable experience.

Final Verdict: 3.5

NightCry is available now on PC and PS Vita.

Reviewed on PS Vita.

A copy of NightCry was provided by the publisher.

 

 

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