By Guy Rainey / October 6th, 2014
Majestic Nights is an isometric, episodic adventure game based on the idea that all conspiracy theories — past, present and future — are all true. I got to play the game’s prologue. Is it worth keeping an eye on, or should you just wait for the next big Telltale game?
As interesting as the story sounds, it makes very little sense. I know that the main character’s name is John Cardholder, but I’m still not completely sure what he does. He might be some kind of government contract killer, but I don’t know. The intro kind of drops you into the game with very little in the way of backstory. For some reason, government agents are trying to kill/capture Cardholder, and you’ve got to talk/stealth/shoot your way around them. I guess you could argue that this is just the prologue, but Cardholder is supposed to be some kind of conspiracy nut. We never really get more than a few glimpses of his personality. I want to have a reason to care about Cardholder’s story.
The first thing you’ll notice when you start the game is the controls, which aren’t explained at all. You move with the WASD keys, interact with the E key, and use the mouse for shooting when the situation demands it. This isn’t really a problem, but it is kind of jarring, since the game never tells you that’s how you move. I spent a good three minutes trying the mouse to make sure it wasn’t broken, then trying a few buttons on the keyboard before I figured it out. The control scheme makes more sense once you get to the action sequences,
Another thing you’ll notice is that the game is broken up into segments, with checkpoints in between them. That actually gets really tiresome in the more action-oriented sections of the game, since there aren’t any user-specified save points. So, if you mess up, you’ll have to go back to the very beginning of the section. This is really frustrating if you get through most of the section, then get surprised at the end, forcing you to go through the whole thing again.
The game is really buggy right now, or, at least, it was when I played it. There have been several big updates since then, so maybe it’s better now. But when I played, my character got stuck in a loop of kick animations, both me and my opponents were able to shoot through some walls, and one enemy didn’t fall over when he died. Though, to be fair, only the first bug was game breaking. And the game isn’t out yet, so it may improve further.
Being an adventure game, you’d probably think there are puzzles. And there are; just not in the standard “rub two items together to unlock progress” vein. The puzzles are more action-oriented. You may need to stealth around enemies, or figure out a way to take them out without getting shot yourself. There are even some conversation puzzles, but, unfortunately, these are mostly guess work (there’s even a joke in the game about them). They’re OK. It is a better idea than adventures games normally use, but they really aren’t interesting. The stealth section is too hard the conventional way, and too easy the “optional way.” The shooting sections are mostly “figure out the way (the developers want you) to go, because, once you figure that out, it’s not hard at all (though this could change at higher difficulty settings).
The presentation is a mixed bag. The visuals are decent, and run smoothly on my laptop, even at full resolution. Since I would rather have a smooth experience than a great-looking, but choppy game, that’s not bad. The music is actually pretty good (as you can hear), but it’s too quiet. I had to turn the volume all the way up to hear the music on the title screen. The volume is a little better in the game, but still pretty quiet. The sound effects are normal, as well, so, if you have the sound from your speakers low, you’ll only be able to hear the sound effects. There’s only one volume option, which is disappointing, since I would have used them here. Hopefully, they’ll add more sound options in the final release.
Should you look into Majestic Nights? I honestly can’t say. The game as a whole is OK. It passes the time. If you want to see for yourself, the prologue episode I played will be available on Steam for free. I’d say that it’s interesting enough to put a couple hours into for free. As for putting money into it? I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to put more time into it. It looks like it could get interesting. We’ll just have to see.
Epiphany GamesMajestic Nights