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Nightfall, by Eric Eve, won second place in the 2008 IF Competition. I played it twice back to back, which I normally don’t like to do. For Nightfall I didn’t mind, mostly because the two play-throughs were so different.

My first run was very short, lasting under an hour in real time, and an hour and a half in game time. Nightfall is timed, with a visible clock and regular time reminders. One of the impressive features of this game is the method of timing- each turn takes a different amount of time, depending on the task. Reading a street sign takes a shorter amount of time than reading a book, for instance. The time is displayed in hours and minutes, and there is an option to also display seconds.

I didn’t choose to view seconds, but I still felt the need to hurry throughout the game. I discarded my usual meticulous exploring in favor of getting stuff done. This was helped along by the fact that the game world is huge- there are a few dozen places to explore, too many keep track of easily without a map. I wasn’t using outside aids for this run, so I mostly relied on the “go to” command. The player character knows the city far better than the player, so the player can simply type “go to [place name]” and the PC will go there. The “go to” command doesn’t skip over the places between point A and point B, but allows the player to interact with each place or not as they choose and use the command “continue” to keep moving in the right direction. I didn’t go off exploring on my own in this run; rather, I went where the game needed me to go.

It wasn’t hard to tell where my next destination was, especially with the “think” command, which essentially reminded me of what I needed to do next to advance the story. I might be making the game sound easy to the point of being boring, but it isn’t. It’s an enjoyable game, very polished, with some very nicely implemented features. I recommend playing it at least once without much prior knowledge; it’s more fun to figure it out, and there’s no need to get everything the first time through.

If you’d like to read about my second play-through and how very different it was, click the link below.

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