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The Nightjar


For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

In space, no one can see you scream

Product: The Nightjar | Publisher: Somethin' Else | Format: iPhone | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.2
 
The Nightjar iPhone, thumbnail 1
Space, a wise man once said, is big. It's also pretty dark when your life support systems are down.

That's how The Nightjar begins: you, the lone survivor of some deep space disaster, trapped in the pitch black confines of your ship as it plummets toward the surface of a nearby moon.

The Nightjar comes from Somethin' Else, the talented team of 3D audio specialists responsible for the critically acclaimed Papa Sangre - and, as with that game, there's nary a graphic in sight. It spins its dizzying sci-fi adventure through ambient audio cues alone, and the results are spectacular.

Fiend without a face

As the game begins, you're moments away from death as the freezing temperatures begin to take their toll. Thankfully, you're brought back to your senses by a mysterious voice (played with delicious relish by Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch) crackling through your headset.

Whoever he is, he seems to want to help, guiding you through the darkness toward the rescue ship docked at the other end of your vessel. There's a small problem, though: it seems you're not alone, and the ship's distinctly hostile alien stowaways ensure that escape is far from certain.

The invisible monster

What follows is a relentlessly intense game of cat and mouse as you attempt to safely navigate The Nightjar's corridors using your ears alone, straining to pinpoint the steady blip of a distant exit or the guttural growls of your unseen assailants through the clank of metal and the hiss of steam.

Movement is fascinating, with individual footsteps taken by rhythmically tapping your device, while a 360-degree slider wheel controls your direction.

It's a simple yet wonderfully flexible setup, enabling Somethin' Else to craft a surprisingly diverse range of scenarios - from tense, tiptoeing stealth to frantic chases where every thunderous step could send you sprawling to your doom.

The unknown terror

Our only complaint won't apply to everyone, but it's worth noting all the same. Success in The Nightjar relies on some pretty accurate spatial observation - and (as this reviewer experienced) progress can mean frustrating trial-and-error if your less-than-perfect hearing is unable to accurately decipher the 3D audio cues.

Even then, The Nightjar's terrifying, evocative soundscapes, compelling sci-fi narrative, and innovative premise make for a short but uniquely satisfying horror experience. Turn off the lights, plug in your headphones, and prepare to embark on The Nightjar's final journey into the unknown.
 
The Nightjar
Reviewer photo
Matt Wales | 10 May 2013
A uniquely thrilling, audio-only, science fiction horror that proves that, sometimes, there's very good reason to be afraid of the dark
 
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