Have you ever wanted to play an interactive episode of Tales of the Unexpected? If so, then D’Avekki Studios have the game for you! Dark Nights With Poe and Munro is an FMV point-n-click adventure game in the vein of titles such as The Complex, Late Shift, Press X to Not Die and the like. It’s honestly good to see these types of games having something of a modest resurgence in popularity.
Dark Nights With Poe and Munro follows the (mis)adventures of the two presenters of Radio August, Ellis Munro (Leah Cunard) and John “Poe” Pope (Klemens Koehring) as they deal with all manner of strangeness such as kidnappings, time travel, werewolves, and talking paintings. The game is presented in episodic format, with six distinct stories on offer. While some of the stories do feature some of the same characters, there’s no real need to play them in order other than the first and the last one as these are the ones that seem to deal most directly with the relationship between our protagonists.
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The stories are a mixed bag ranging from the seemingly mundane to the out and out supernatural and more than one ends with an intriguing little twist that can cast an entirely different light on what you’ve just experienced. ‘In Bed with Poe and Munro’ is probably my favourite example of that but I won’t stay anything more that might spoil the surprise!
The acting on display is also a bit of a mixed bag and, sad to say, there just doesn’t seem to be that much chemistry between the characters, or at least there didn’t seem to be much on my particular playthrough. Poe also spends just a little too much time chewing on the scenery while Munro sometimes seems a bit too flat, and sometimes their dialogue is just the wrong kind of awkward, but only sometimes. As a whole each episode tells a thoroughly engaging story with episodes two and three being my personal favourites.
The gameplay is fairly straightforward, the story plays out and then the player is offered a number of options to click on to move things forward, from as little as a single button to multiple. Normally there is a limited amount of time that the player has to make their choice, but if you prefer not to deal with the time pressure than you can disable the timer in the options menu and dither away to your heart’s delight. This, though, is one of my biggest gripes with the game – the options. Sometimes it’s simply not clear what each option really means.
Dark Nights is hardly alone in there being vaguery in the choices presented to the player, it’s an issue with plenty of other games that use dialogue systems, but it can still be frustrating to be presented with three different options without really understanding what each of them mean. What difference does it make if I click on a character’s leg or their chest? What’s the difference between clicking on person A’s hand or person B’s?
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More than once I picked what I thought was the option I wanted, only to have the character do the complete opposite. There were even a couple of times when I genuinely think I missed most of the story, or that I did something wrong as things just abruptly END without there seeming to be a real resolution. Luckily once you’ve played through all the episodes once, you can skip through dialogue and credits scenes with a mouseclick to allow you to see different options and cutscenes so there’s plenty of replay value here in puzzling out all the different permutations each story can take.
This is the third game from D’Avekki Studios, following on from both The Shapeshifting Detective (which introduced us to the characters of Poe and Munro) and The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker (a character who gets namedropped more than once in this story). They’re building a solid reputation for these kinds of slightly more off-beat and supernatural/not-quite-horror themed games. Minor quibbles aside, Dark Nights is a genuinely interesting game, with stories that never quite go where you think they’re going to. If you like FMV style games, pick this one up and maybe think about giving the rest of D’Avekki’s catalogue a look. I know I will be.
Dark Nights With Poe and Munro is out now from D’Avekki Studios.