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Review

The Night Is Grey Review

What could have been

The main ingredients for any point-and-click game are usually the story, art style, and puzzles. Tip the balance on the positive side and the game will likely be a winner. Get all three right and you have yourself a classic. However, doing so is easier said than done, and Whalestork Interactive’s The Night is Grey excels when it comes to the art style but is merely serviceable in other areas, resulting in an experience that doesn’t quite hit the heights it could have.

Playing as Graham, the story begins as he stumbles out of the forest, running away from vicious wolves that lurk in the forest. Soon after, he finds a young girl named Hannah, who is all alone as her mother has not returned home. Graham believes that Hannah’s best chance of survival is coming with him, and after convincing her that he is no monster, the two join forces and set off to leave the forest and take Hannah back to her grandparents.

Let’s survive together

Graham isn’t the most likeable character going around – he’s clearly got some demons due to his childhood, something that’s mentioned several times throughout the journey, which gives the story a dark undertone. He’ll frequently call himself an idiot or embarrassment, and he’ll lose his temper when talking to Hannah if she’s being annoying, which is par for the course when you’re a kid. He’s not all bad though, and you do get the feeling that he is trying his best in a situation where he is well out of his depth. Sadly, the characters aren’t voiced, and I know it’s a decision likely made out of budgetary constraints, but the characters do lose an element of immersion that text-only dialogue can’t deliver.

Despite this, the narrative is interesting and mysterious enough at first, with the game alluding that the wolves are more than mere animals, as well as Graham learning about a tragedy that struck the town and its mine in the past, leaving it now abandoned. But it never really goes into detail about these and instead adds new story twists, resulting in an ending that left me feeling short-changed and confused. It could be interpreted a few ways, and the most logical conclusion I’ve come to is that they’ve taken the generic route (you’ll understand if you play it), which is a shame because I feel like the narrative could have been much more.

The Night is Grey’s story features six chapters made up of small contained levels, making it easier when trying to find solutions for the puzzles given you’ll need to backtrack frequently. Oddly, there are load screens that seemingly linger on for longer than expected for a game of this ilk, which can be annoying at times. For the most part, the puzzle design is pretty sound. You’ll get a sense of what items you need to combine together or require as it’s all fairly logical, and you’ll progress at a normal rate. Where it comes undone is when the solutions feel too obscure or don’t make sense, making it feel difficult for the sake of being difficult and grinding you to a halt. Players can highlight all items in a particular area, but that can only help so much when you’re trying to figure out how to progress. For example, one solution could only be done with the lights on, despite Graham being able to see the item required.

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Forest Grump

What’s frustrating is that there are moments when the dialogue subtly hints at what at to do next, and other times it just leaves you to figure it out, such as when I needed to speak to Hannah to unlock the next step in the story or inspect an object more than once to find an item. All you can really do is resort to trial and error until something works.

I feel like I’ve played enough adventure games to know my way around a puzzle or two, but several puzzles stopped me in my tracks for long periods, and I wouldn’t blame anyone if they hit a brick wall and simply gave up, and one sequence almost made me do exactly that. There’s a section where Graham must make his way through a maze, but he can die if he goes more than four rooms without refilling his oil lamp as it runs out. There are no autosaves in this sequence – die halfway through and you’ll need to start all over again (remember to manual save). The map you have is a rough guide but it doesn’t highlight any oil stations, meaning I had to revert to the old pad and pen to draw my own map so I knew where they were and which rooms could be reached. I don’t mind the old pad and pen tactic when trying to work out clues, but here it felt a little tedious.

We haven’t even talked about The Night is Grey’s remarkable hand-done animations and truly gorgeous environments, which are the game’s best asset. It’s not the most picturesque game, but the tone of the environments coupled with the soundtrack helps evoke a sense of dread and tranquillity that suits the mood perfectly. Seriously, the animations are incredibly done. Graham will frequently wipe his glasses or give Hannah a piggyback, and it’s super slick. However, there is no running animation, which means Graham walks everywhere, so be prepared for that.

The art style is excellent

Final Thoughts

Whalestork Interactive has done an admirable job with The Night is Grey. It’s a decent point-and-click game but it lacks the balance of its main ingredients to take it into the upper echelon of the genre. I can’t speak highly enough of the art style and animations, but sadly the narrative doesn’t capitalise on the premise its trailers teased and the puzzles can feel like a chore at times. If you’re a fan of the genre I would at least encourage you to check out the game’s demo or YouTube playthroughs before pulling the trigger.

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Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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The Night Is Grey Review
Where Wolves?
The Night is Grey is a serviceable point-and-click experience that sees its gorgeous art style and animations overshadowed by a disappointing ending and frustrating puzzles.
The Good
Gorgeous art style and animations
Soundtrack compliments the atmosphere well
Some puzzles are smartly done
The Bad
Disappointing and confusing ending
Some puzzles can be frustrating and not make sense
Interesting story elements (such as the wolves) get left behind
Loading screens can become annoying
6.5
Has A Crack
  • Whalestork Interactive
  • Whalestork Interactive
  • PC
  • January 5, 2024

The Night Is Grey Review
Where Wolves?
The Night is Grey is a serviceable point-and-click experience that sees its gorgeous art style and animations overshadowed by a disappointing ending and frustrating puzzles.
The Good
Gorgeous art style and animations
Soundtrack compliments the atmosphere well
Some puzzles are smartly done
The Bad
Disappointing and confusing ending
Some puzzles can be frustrating and not make sense
Interesting story elements (such as the wolves) get left behind
Loading screens can become annoying
6.5
Has A Crack
Written By Zach Jackson

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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