Night Watch (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, February 26, 2006

It’s been a busy time for Nival Interactive recently. Having shipped both Blitzkrieg 2 and Hammer and Sickle for CDV last year (H&S being a bit disappointing unfortunately), the company is busy working on two new titles. The first one that we’re able to take a look at is Night Watch, which at this point in time isn’t currently scheduled for a North American release. However, an English demo is out and judging by the quality level of the demo, it would be great to see the game make it out to these shores.

Night Watch is a turn based RPG based on a popular Russian movie/book series. While I don’t believe that much of that series has made it over here, perhaps the game could be the first. One of the nice things that is immediately apparent about this game is that although dialogue choices and plot lines seem fairly linear (you have some choices as to what you want your characters to say, but not too many), it is the versatility in character development that will make the game shine. There are three different character types to choose from, and each one has completely different abilities to gain. When you first start out you will have the option of making your character a Shapeshifter, Enchanter, or Mage. Each one gets completely different abilities, although Enchanter and Mage both focus around spells. Shapeshifter was a neat option to toy around with in the demo as your character could turn into a vicious dog that could take out enemies with relative ease.

One complaint that many people had with the last game of this style by Nival was that the graphics weren’t the best they could’ve been. Fortunately, it appears that the development team for Night Watch has put a lot of effort into this area, as the game looks great. Character models are a lot smoother and have more depth to them, and the environments look great. It can also be assumed that some of these areas may match up with the movie the game is based on, although that can’t be known yet because the movie hasn’t hit our shores yet.

Battles are completely turn based and use action points just like any other game of this genre would. In addition to spells, various weapons can be used during battle in order to further help your characters out. These include flashlights (one of the things introduced in the movie, as since your enemies are of Dark alignment the light will hurt them), and various clubs and bats. Typically you’ll be managing more than one character at a time, and Nival made it easy to switch between them with the click of a button. By clicking each one’s character portrait at the top, you will automatically select them. This makes it easy to move from character to character while deciding what you want to do against the enemy.

Another unique element of Night Watch is the Dusk. This is an alternate layer of reality that your characters and enemies can jump into and out of in order to enhance their spell casting abilities. While enemies are in the Dusk and you aren’t, you will not be able to see them or attack them until you go into the Dusk yourself. However, your life is drained slowly for every round that you are within this alternate world, so players will have to manage between using this to their advantage and having it slowly killing them.

The final big improvements in regards to the game engine from past titles to talk about would have to be the dialogue system and environments. Although the dialogue can be seemingly linear at times, the system provides a fair number of branches and options to explore as you make your way through the game. The story is very unique and fun to go through, so this should make the title even stronger. Finally, destructible environments are included. This adds an extra layer to the combat as you can attack enemies and have them collide with and destroy certain objects, causing additional damage. This element will add additional strategy to the game, and it comes as a welcomed addition.

Night Watch the movie is currently showing in select areas throughout the United States, so hopefully the license will gain a bit of popularity and encourage a publisher to pick up the game. The demo shows that the translation is already pretty well done (with decent voice acting to boot), so it shouldn’t be too hard to finish localizing. Night Watch appears to be a solid PC game that will be one to watch for, and here’s hoping that we see it in North America before the end of this year.

Leave a Reply