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"Dark Nights With Poe and Munro" Review

Passionate about any and all video games. I am willing to give any game a try and play it to its fullest. Proud Trophy Hunter.

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Tune In for the Supernatural, Stay for the FMV

There’s something special about the world of FMV games. It’s a style of gaming that’s worn its campy style proudly all over itself from all the way back in 1992 with the likes of titles such as Night Trap and Corpse Killer. And still sitting pretty in 2021, it wears its campiness proudly on its sleeve with the single exception that this time, we have better cameras. Personally, I cannot get enough of it.

Poe and Munro takes place in the small fictional British town of August, where both John Poe and Ellis Munro are both seemingly self-employed at a radio station aptly named Radio August. They take calls in relation to the supernatural or asking about the caller’s dreams or nightmares. It’s one of those radio shows you might catch whilst driving alone at 2 am. You'll shamefully shake your head at the thought that someone describing their dream of a love affair with the ghostly figure they stumbled upon in an abandoned sunflower field might symbolize our soul yearning for what we don’t have when all it probably means is that they stayed up late watching Ghostbusters. Suffice to say, it’s the perfect setting for a chill vibe with just enough enjoyable cringe for dipping on the side.

Each episode is essentially a penny dreadful, and although that's considered a derogatory term, it really couldn’t suit this game any better in the best way. The story told varies with each episode showcasing supernatural beings such as recently deceased ghosts or demons in paintings or even werewolves. But the real charm of the game is that it never takes these topics too seriously. Each episode teeters between comedy and spooky (as I don’t think this game quite qualifies to the rank of horror). Adding to this, the episodes for the most part don’t connect with each other. Each episode tells its own story, which could be frustrating for some as the consequences and problems that are presented in one episode are completely forgotten about in the next, much like a weekly cartoon show. This means there’s the problem of the game leaving the player confused about the choices that were made and if they actually meant anything. Especially on rare occasions when the later episodes do make a call back to earlier episodes. It’s never really clear what’s canon and what carries over. However, personally, I found that I enjoyed this aspect, as it meant that it was easy-going content to just chill through on a Saturday night. I feel that there will be others that may be disappointed that the game didn’t go full X-Files as the supernatural elements in this game are paper-thin with the conclusions to some of the episodes being anti-climactic. They usually result in something related to Poe and Munro’s odd relationship rather than the supernatural theme itself.

This brings me to my next point of a negative experience I had with this game, Poe and Munro’s relationship. The game makes it very clear and obvious through body chemistry and dialogue that they are very much into each other, with the game having at least one awkward sex innuendo each episode which succumbs to acting usually found on most pornographic sites. This relationship in itself is not the issue, it’s the fact the Poe is married, which means his little tango with Munro is an affair. The reason this is a problem is that I don’t really understand why the adultery plotline was even required, especially seeing as the topic itself was very lightly touched upon throughout the game anyway. There was no deep moral message and it never really played into the genre of the episodes, it’s just kind of there. In nearly every episode, Munro will always make a dig at Poe for not getting serious about their relationship and leaving his wife, to which Poe will always respond how it’s complicated, and then the game just moves on. That is until in one of the later episodes, where Poe states that his wife had cheated on him in the past, but he remained with her and again…. that’s just it. Although the relationship arc did enlighten me to the term Schrödinger’s marriage... which is something… Overall, it doesn’t impact the game too fiercely but the whole thing just seemed wholly unnecessary and bizarre as to why it was written in the first place. You never get to see the wife in person so no emotional attachment is formed from the player, so naturally, I found myself rooting for Poe and Munro as you can physically see the chemistry between the two at all times whilst at the same time being conflicted about the pro infidelity message the game seems to want to promote.

Now shifting my focus over to the real main attraction to this game, Poe, and Munro. Being advertised both visually and thematically as being like X-Files or Twin Peaks (I have never watched Twin Peaks, but I hear it’s weird and spooky) but the actual experience is more akin to Futurama’s ‘The Scary Door’. Still, this being the case it cannot be disregarded that both Leah Cunard and Klemens Koehring (Munro and Poe respectively) have great chemistry together in this game and it really feels like they’re just having fun with their characters and really brings the charm of this game to another level. From the awkward flirting between the characters to the little argumentative jabs it was always a joy to see both characters interact with each other and if not for them it leaves me to wonder if I would have had such a glowing time with this game. Klemens Koehring really brings home an over-the-top try-hard ‘spooky man’ and his style of voice acting is almost reminiscent of the early Resident Evil titles. It’s ridiculous but it was always a joy to hear, which can only be helped by an exaggerated British accent. The other delight, Leah Cunard, really brings forward her character with her seductive and relaxed tones when interacting with the support cast, and Poe which brings some much-needed balance to the Resident Evil styles from Klemen. The supporting cast that shows up in each episode fits well enough within the game some with more amateur acting skills than others but no actor in this game was inheritably bad and was enjoyable enough to sit and watch without the need to wince at every spoken line.

The gameplay is incredibly simple, even a bit too simple. The player is tasked with watching roughly about 5-6 hours of HD content divided into six episodes. At certain points during the content, the player is usually given the option to select one of two presented options on screen with the very rare occasion of being given more than one of two choices and that’s really all there is to it in terms of player interaction, Move cursor + press button.

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Naturally, this means that the player can have the story fold out differently depending on the selected choice, but as I mentioned above, the player is usually only given two options, which generally means that there are only two ways the bulk of the story can go. There isn’t an obvious good or evil path when it comes to player choice, it’s just a different path. So, this means that the player can just choose at their own discretion and just watch the entertainment unfold, which is nice. However, this does come with the problem that sometimes the presented choices are a bit too vague for example the ‘choice’ UI would alternate between Munro’s chest or hand when being asked about a capsule being hidden in the forest or choosing an apple or an orange to forget a memory. With no indication of what these seemingly random options do, it can lead to the player just picking something just to pick something rather than making an informed choice. And although I personally feel the lack of knowing what the choice is going to lead to is all part of the charm associated with this game there are some that may get frustrated with this.

There is no dire consequence or friendship/romance to mess up, so it’s nice to just make a guilt-free, gut feeling choice and then watch the entertainment that comes afterward. However, this does mean that there isn’t a crazy amount of replay value to the game and although the game does indeed play out differently with each choice, I can understand why some might not feel compelled enough to replay the episode to see the difference. As it would mean rewatching previously seen content or skipping through the scenes that have already been seen to watch the five minutes of different content that hasn’t been seen.

The soundtrack present in the game suits the game just fine and does enough to suit its purpose but other than that it’s really nothing worth mentioning and will be forgotten about the moment you close the game.

The games options menu allows you to enable subtitles that are prompt and clear with an option to decrease and increase the size of the text. There is also an option to freeze-frame when making a decision if you feel more comfortable not being under a timer as well as enabling ‘Skip Scenes’ if you wanted to go back and replay an episode and see other paths not taken more quickly.

Overall, my experience with this game was one of a guilty pleasure, although I must admit that I don’t feel an ounce of guilt or shame for my love of FMV games. I feel that games such as these are such eye-openers where I don’t have to have a game that lasts 100+ hours or a budget bigger than a figure I’ll ever see in my lifetime. I just need a game that I can sit, play, enjoy and smile. I’m a huge fan of D’Avekki Studios and the games they have put out in the past, and Dark Nights with Poe and Munro was a delight to play after my many hours in some of the other bigger games I have been playing lately, I especially appreciate some call-backs to their previous games, especially The Infectious Madness of Dr. Dekker.

Was some of the acting over the top…. absolutely! but it’s because of this that I was able to just sit back and watch the performance laid out before me and for the price of £9.99 I’d say it was worth every minute and if D’Avekki Studios make another game, I’ll be there again sat back in my chair with a drink in one hand and a controller in the other.

Overall review – 7/10

© 2021 Ryan Simmonds

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