There are a lot of issues that people face as they grow up. Family life isn’t always so easy when you’re a kid, being a teenager sucks and being an adult is even worse – believe me, I know. Between Me And The Night explores these aspects during the life of a young boy, showing the trials and tribulations he faces and the relationships that grow around him as he reaches adulthood.
Between Me And The Night begins by placing you in the role of a child who witnesses a few weird going-ons along with the appearance of somewhat ghostly apparitions. It’s a bizarre intro that doesn’t really offer much context, but you’ll slowly realise that each eerie encounter you face is meant as a metaphor for something else; what exactly, you have to discover yourself.
Whilst it appears innocent enough, there are a lot of dark undertones to everything going on around you. Even things like performing simple chores are twisted – for example, feeding your cat is a deadly experience given that the cat is almost the size of the room it inhabits and willing to strike you down unless you approach it bearing its favourite food. Even mowing the lawn is a death-defying experience, but I’ll leave that for you to witness yourself…
You begin as a child, but as you progress through the game you’ll play through your teenage years in high school and then adult life in your own apartment. There’s a definite change of attitude to your character’s analysis of things as they grow older; you’ll notice things that he appreciated when he was younger are merely considered as ‘junk’ in his older age. I couldn’t help but to relate to these instances – it hit a little close to home when I consider there are so many things that I cherished in my younger years that I’d never take a second glance at now.
Whilst the narrative plays a big role in Between Me And The Night, it doesn’t feel like there’s a focus on telling a story. Whilst being a child, a teenager and an adult could be interpreted as a story’s beginning, middle and end, there’s no actual story being told – it just feels like a series of events that have shaped the character’s life. I personally had no problem with that and enjoyed the dark interpretation; just don’t go into the game expecting a full blown narrative.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Between Me And The Night’s strongest feature is its graphics – RainDance LX have done a fantastic job of creating a world that’s both beautiful and interesting to explore. There’s a real sense of surrealism in your environments; whilst things appear somewhat normal, you can tell that something isn’t quite right. It’s all very Tim Burton-esque in a way, something you’ll especially notice when you come across some of the characters (and monstrosities) you encounter in the game.
I’ve always been a fan of 2D art and Between Me And The Night features some fine work. There’s plenty of colour, the weather effects create a great atmosphere and even the lighting effects are utilised well. Environment design even plays in well with the premise of the game too, with levels feeling less bizarre the older your character gets – perhaps referencing the differences between a child and adult’s imagination. Either way, the game is consistently gorgeous throughout.
The gameplay on the other hand is a bit hit and miss. Between Me And The Night essentially plays out like a point and click adventure, offering an assortment of items to collect and then use to interact with objects to complete puzzles. Everything takes place on a 2D plane so it’s fairly easy to explore – you’ll need to move around a lot of furniture if you’re going to find everything though.
The puzzles are generally enjoyable and quite clever too. Point and click games are often guilty of featuring puzzles that have a somewhat convoluted solution, but that isn’t the case in Between Me And The Night – sure, you’ll have to put your thinking cap on to get through a few earlier puzzles, but you’ll never feel the need to try combining every item in your inventory with an object in the hope of finding success.
There are a few red herrings to be found though though. You can pretty much pick up any item in the game, leaving you often wondering what you might use that item for. Nine times out of ten you won’t use it for anything, with it just being there as a decoration that you can pick up. This could feel a little frustrating at times – I was often left wondering how an item may fit into a puzzle only for it to end up having no use it all. You can only carry a certain amount of items at a time too, and I resented leaving something behind knowing I may need to use it at some point. It’s nitpicking, sure, but it’s a frustration I felt – especially in the first level.
There are a few enemies that you have to avoid during the game too. They’re well designed creatures and fit in well with the game world, but they too brought some of the game’s more frustrating moments. Whilst escaping from enemies is common territory in games, I’ve found that it doesn’t always work on a 2D plane – something especially evident in Between Me And The Night. There were moments I needed to get to a room only to find that a creature was patrolling that area. If the creature makes contact with you, you’re teleported back to the starting area of that level. There were too many instances where the creature would be blocking my path and I’d just have to leave the room and stand idle, doing nothing while I wait for the creature to disappear. It wouldn’t have been such a problem if there were multiple routes to work around a level, but with only one way to get from point A to B I was left hanging around just staring at the screen at times. Whilst the danger element of an enemy does add excitement to a point and click style game, it did quite the opposite in this case.
One of Between Me And The Night’s neatest features is during your interaction with one of the many arcade cabinets you find. You don’t just play on the arcade cabinet, though; you get sucked in and actually become the hero in the medieval style game that’s featured. There’s no collecting items anymore but instead you face foes in combat on a dangerous, yet beautiful, mountain top. I’ll admit, the combat is a little clunky and enemies never really offer that much of a threat, but it was a decent way to break up gameplay.
It won’t take you long to complete Between Me And The Night – I managed to complete it within around two hours and that’s including all the time I spent waiting for that damn monster to disappear. Unfortunately, there’s nothing really on offer to encourage you to return for additional playthroughs.
I have mixed feeling about Between Me And The Night. Visually it’s stunning, offering bizarre yet beautiful landscapes for you to explore. The narrative is intriguing too, allowing you to explore the traumatic events a child faces as he grows up and becomes an adult.
However, there were moments that were so frustrating that I simply couldn’t let them slide – in particular the patrolling monster. Never before in a game have I been sent back to the start of an area so often. I know you can just be patient and wait, but there were instances when I’d be caught as soon I walked into a room too. Believe me, it was annoying. Add to that the abundance of useless objects in the game that distract you from what you actually need along with the short playtime and lack of replay value and you’ll realise there are quite a few flaws to be found in Between Me And The Night. If you can look past them though, there is an enjoyable time to be had with the game – it just may not be for everyone.
– Stunning visuals throughout
– An intriguing narrative
– Enjoyable, clever puzzles
– The annoying, patrolling monster that stops progress
– An over-abundance of useless items to find
– Short playtime
Developer: RainDance LX (www.raindancelx.com)
Publisher: Lace Games (www.lacegames.com) Kiss Ltd. (www.kiss-ltd.co.uk)
Release Date: 22/01/2016
Format(s): PC (reviewed), Mac, Linix