Friday, June 27, 2014

Indie Impression - Night Shift

Night Shift

Now Available on Steam Early Access

from Brandon Brizzi

A dark road lit up only by the lights of a lone driver's car in the dead of night, the pulsing beat and warm synth of the 80's era radio, all haunted with the actualization of surreal entities and glowing white butterflies before you. Whether they are real or a figment of your driver's sleep deprived imagination is unknown. The world you've cruised into is the essence of 80's obsession with a technological dystopia and sunless futures, the soundtrack (by Dance With the Dead) the embodiment of cyberpunk, retro-future values recently re-popularized by the likes of Perturbator or the rest of the artists on the ever-popular Hotline Miami soundtrack. Night Shift caught my attention recently with it's appearance on Steam's Early Access, standing out with it's strangely unique concept and almost Knight Rider-like aesthetic.

The white trees glowing in the night give you their energy.

Night Shift is a decidedly confusing game, pitting your solitary and anonymous retro hero against the empty pitch-black depths of the unknown and ruined roads before you. Many questions are presented without any real explanation, what happened to this world, who are these other phantasms and who is our driver, what exactly am I supposed to be doing? You're dropped into the pitch black land without any clue or indication of what to do other than the trail of butterflies leading you back on the road setting you on the right path for exploration. The gameplay is very straightforward and simple in execution but sprawling and secretive in it's discovery, having you explore and steal light from dimming lamp posts with your seemingly magical high beams while watching your energy closely, which can only be recharged by the glowing white trees that stand out in the darkness. You'll be stopped on your journey to gather and restore the light around you by the ghostly apparitions of other cars, perhaps even previous drivers on the same failed quest to find the sun as you?

These spirits of the past  seem to want to give you advice.

 Night Shift already has an attractively old school and fully realized atmosphere, but in it's current form lacks a narrative as to what you're doing or where you are which while effective in it's mysterious and strange nature is exactly why it's in Early Access. The developer, creator of the puzzle-platformer 10000 Amps, apparently has some pretty ambiguous ideas for where the story is headed in the future of Night Shift and is enlisting your help to ensure it's further shaped into something great with the addition of story cinemas and lots of new plot, new levels, as well as full Steam integration for controller support, achievements, cards and the like.

 Overall, Night Shift is an awesome and quirky concept with a really gritty, dark and retro atmosphere that still has even more distance to cover in terms of the overall experience given, and if you're the kind of person who's keen on watching as well as help an uncommon and unique idea develop into something even bigger you can pick it up for a very reasonable $3.99 right now during the Summer Sale ($4.99 normal). I'm personally pretty excited to see where this one goes.

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