Nightlong: Union City Conspiracy (1998, Team 17) is a science-fiction adventure game created by the Italian developers at Trecision. It's neo-noir leanings and futuristic city setting evoke the likes of Blade Runner, but how does it compare?
The year is 2099 - exactly 100 years after the game's English language release - and there's trouble brewing on the neon-drenched streets of Union City. A terrorist organisation has been attacking the city streets with a series of bombs causing havoc with the public transport. The governor calls upon his old army buddy, Joshua Reev, to help infiltrate the group and sabotage them from the inside. As Joshua, you are thrown into a conspiracy that challenges your worldview to the very core.
Nightlong is a very traditional point-n-click adventure. There's no attempt to try new things and the choice to use the simplified control scheme of games such as Discworld or Broken Sword keeps things focussed on the storytelling; left-click looks and right-click interacts.
The puzzles are also easy to understand, though are often tough to figure out. They are mostly inventory based, but a couple do require jotting down some notes. There is a tendency towards pixel hunting, but for the most part, I didn't mind it here. Some objects can only be found by clicking on the 1x1 pixel sprite but an effort has been made for them to stand out. For example, the first screen has a bright white dot that represents a metallic gum wrapper. It's small but definitely noticeable and if you're ever in doubt, a handy text description will appear above the cursor when you hover over it.
If there's one thing that irks me about the controls, it's that Reev has an annoying habit of getting in the way. When you come across an unknown object, you would naturally want to look at it first, and in doing so our hairless investigator stands right in front of it. You can still interact with what's behind him, but with everything being so small it's hard enough to find it without the obstruction. It's a minor annoyance as you can easily shift him to the side with a single click, but it happens too often to not mention it here.
The incredibly realised world is alive with activity. Flying cars, holograms and robots exist alongside the strangely ubiquitous fax machine in this highly detailed, neon-drenched future-scape. There's always something going on at the corner of the screen - particularly in the city - that very few adventures from any era feature. Whether it's a human shadow going about his business behind the window of a building, a flying cop car on patrol or an automaton fixing some pipework, it gives the world a grimy lived-in vibe even if there's a noticeable lack of regular pedestrians. The only people you see in detail are directly relevant to the plot. I guess it can be explained away by taking place at a late hour and the recent explosion on the subway.
The computer generated cut-scenes are plentiful and take up the majority of the three discs worth of space. Any conversation, no matter how minor, is presented as a movie which adds scope to an already cinematic game. The only problem with these conversations is that the lip-sync is way off. It's almost like they didn't even bother with it. In truth, the visuals fit more with the Italian voices it was originally designed for but for English speakers, the characters look like puppets with their mouths flapping. At least the script and voice acting is above par for the most point. Whether you can suspend your disbelief enough to look past this is perhaps the single biggest factor as to whether you'll like the game or not.
Beyond this Nightlong: Union City Conspiracy is a handsome production. The story, visuals, gameplay and puzzles all work well with a runtime that doesn't overstay its welcome. Blade Runner is one of my favourite movies, and the belated sequel is still fresh in my mind so Nightlong is a welcome foray into a similarly dense sci-fi world. Highly recommended.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 running Windows '95. Manual included. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting DOSBox. Not doing so could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Press Ctrl-F9 when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 1.49 Gb. Install Size: 1.75 Gb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Nightlong: Union City Conspiracy is © Team17 Software Ltd
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me