Night/Shift: A Cypherpunk Adventure
for Amiga (AGA)

Mr Creosote:
Company: Eclectic Imaginations
Year: 2023
Genre: Adventure
Theme: Mystery / Science Fiction
Language: English
Licence: Freeware
Views: 462
Review by Mr Creosote (2024-01-06)
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Permanent surveillance by governments and big corporations. Artificial intelligence replacing human operated services. Technology which may have its positive uses, but comes with so much baggage. Doesn't it all become too much? Shouldn't there be a back to the basics trend? A group called Eclectic Imaginations apparently believes so. And made a game sending exactly this message – designed for yesterday's technology, for full enjoyment with no strings attached.

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Night/Shift calls itself an “exploration game”. This pretty much nails it. There is no skill challenge of any kind associated. The player moves the protagonist about until they find the correct place where some plot progress will then trigger automatically. What's more, the game will even tell where to go next. At the beginning, when told to change clothes to enter the nightclub, players used to a little more may actually search the apartment for a wardrobe to open, take out those clothes, put them on. Until they realize that indeed, just visiting the apartment has been sufficient.

Walking around, at least, is made pleasant through the game's use of moody still pictures. Using the HAM8 screenmode, the (AI generated?) illustrations are often beautiful and show a great consistency. As expected from a HAM-mode game, there are no animations. The price seems to be occasionally noticeable loading times.

Though of course, beautiful illustrations are not sufficient to hold today's audience's interest. The narrative follows cyberpunk-ish motifs. Though beyond the basic ideas, it can hardly be called strong. Even though there is a big conspiracy to be uncovered, it never feels like there is any significant impact or danger. The protagonist attends secret meetings in underground locations. Though why, when there is nobody on his trail? The writing does go through the motions, but it lacks the evocative power usually associated with this genre. The narrative rhythm is equally bumpy, especially towards the end when there is just a bit too much back and forth.

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Having a sympathetic agenda certainly counts on the plus side. Though first doubts creep in when the big exposition dialogue literally ends in an awkward “but you already know all this”. Why did you tell the protagonist, then? Was it actually all just for the player and you didn't find a better way to transport this knowledge? And when the ending is literally a reproduction of the Cypherpunk Manifesto, a several pages long text dump, coupled with Stars and Stripes waving patriotism and kitsch back-to-the-basics imagery while referencing another failed idealistic social movement, it all feels desperate and a bit sad rather than convincing.

Oh, well. Night/Shift isn't a bad package overall. It is ambitious and respects its player's time. In terms of narrative technique, it does feel like someone's first attempt. Though everyone has to start somewhere.

Comments (1) [Post comment]

Mr Creosote:
Have you heard of Cypherpunk? Yes, this is not a typo. Night/Shift is aimed at all those who don't feel comfortable around today's world, with surveillance tech everywhere. Appropriately, it is also nostalgic for past tech which was (so it claims) not used for evil yet. It even namedrops Speedball. This must be great, right?
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