Disclaimer: This review of Dark Nights With Poe & Munro was written using a code supplied to me by the game’s PR team. This does not affect my judgment of the game and is explained for the purpose of transparency.
Dark Nights With Poe & Munro is a full-motion video-game (or FMV) set in the same world as The Shapeshifting Detective. This is a title I reviewed on the site and had some very mixed feelings about. The game had plot holes and uncomfortable scenes with suggested drugging of women; something I openly discussed and criticised in my review. So when I was approached with a code for Dark Nights, I was somewhat shocked. Yet, I was curious to see what the game had in store.
Dark Nights is a prequel to The Shapeshifting Detective. In that game, it was clear that something was going on between Poe and Munro. They were more than mere co-workers, and so I hoped that Dark Nights would delve into the details a bit more. This combined with the fact that Poe and Munro host a local radio show discussing strange events in their town, as well as other supernatural and paranormal happenings, had the recipe to be an exciting FMV.
The game begins with a short intro, showing the titular characters and the title of the game. The game is broken into episodes which, much to my disappointment, don’t really seem to be related to one another. I was hoping that the game would feature a linear story, however, each episode is more like its own isolated incident. These range from a caller threatening to kill Poe, to the duo helping to find a missing child.
That latter one in my personal opinion was the best story of the episodes. It felt tense throughout and had my full attention the entire time. The other stories fell flat, and not much really happened. Even the story between Poe and Munro was barely explored. There was a lot of very obvious sexual tension between the two characters, and the issue of Poe having a wife is briefly explored. Yet, nothing comes of it. It’s there for that one episode, and then it’s gone. I can’t help but feel that this FMV as a whole is trying to tell too many stories. I much would’ve preferred one set story (personally the missing child), which in turn delved into the relationship between Poe and Monro and showed some form of character development.
In terms of gameplay, Dark Nights plays much like a typical FMV. You watch the events unfold, and then make a choice. In Dark Nights you do this by clicking a circle on-screen. The issue is here that many of the choices aren’t inherently obvious as to what you are picking. The above image for instance. Munro has a capsule in her hand, no spoilers. In a FMV, your choices should be clear. The viewer should know exactly what the choice their making means. There were too many times during my playthrough in which I wasn’t sure what choice I was making, and a few times I was disappointed in what happened. I assumed one thing based on the circle on the screen, yet something different happened.
Earlier I said that the game is split into episodes, with each episode being its own story. I have to mention that each episode shows the intro at the beginning and the end. At first, this is fine, but after two or three times it becomes obnoxious. You feel as if the title is being forced down your throat and that D’Avekki Studios (the game’s developer/publisher) want you to so desperately remember the names, Poe and Munro. Unfortunately, I will. Not because I enjoyed the game, but because it was burned into my memory thanks to numerous exposures.
Next, we have to discuss the dialogue of the game. It all feels so forced. That’s the only way I can explain it. Other FMVs I have played have managed to make the dialogue sound natural, such as The Late Shift. In that FMV, I was fully immersed in the world, but I couldn’t immerse myself in Dark Nights, mainly due to the dialogue. It was painstakingly obvious that I was playing an FMV, rather than experiencing one. This may seem strange to those unfamiliar with the genre, but I personally like to feel as if I am a part of an FMV when I play one.
To sum up my experience with Dark Nights With Poe & Munro I would have to say that it was, overall, a sadly tedious experience. What should have been such a brilliant idea, was ultimately let down by story plots that lead nowhere and dodgy dialogue. The FMV is shot beautifully yet that isn’t redeeming enough. It was such a promising idea. Two local radio hosts who have fallen for each other in a world of paranormal and supernatural mystery. But ultimately, Dark Nights just didn’t deliver. I personally see no reason for you to buy this FMV.