A Near Dawn Preview

Posted in Kulturecade by - November 13, 2017
A Near Dawn Preview

A Near Dawn is a point-and-click adventure game from Far-off Daydream Games currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. The game promises to be a fun and dark tale of a man struggling against forces both all-too-real and seemingly supernatural. The brief prologue I played left me interested in the final product, but unable to tell just how consequential my choices would be in the finished game.

A Near Dawn casts players as Sam Nichols, an attorney at a failing law firm who also seems to suffer from some serious psychological issues. Sam is haunted by dreams of a malevolent figure, all while trying to handle his most important case yet at work. Sam also likes to narrate everything, describing his surroundings and actions in extraneous detail. My hope is that as the cast of characters expands (there are only a few speaking characters in the demo), the game will become less reliant of Sam’s narration to further the story because it feels overwrought in its delivery here. Aside from my gripes with the overdone narration, however, the voice acting is pretty good for an amateur production. Some characters could stand to be a little louder, even at maximum voice volume, but there’s a confidence to the delivery here that helps sell the events that transpire.

The main thrust of the game seems to be choosing whether or not you will lean into your darker urges as Sam’s story progresses. There’s really only one instance of this kind of choice in the prologue, a situation in which you can choose whether or not to chew out a clumsy waitress for her ineptitude. The scene afterward diverged considerably based on my choices (I played through the prologue a few times to see what could be changed), but it remains to be seen just how much your decisions will impact the story as a whole. Also, it’s worth noting that there was little compelling reason to treat the waitress horribly. I’m optimistic that the drastically different outcomes shown here indicate that decisions will have consequences down the line, but I didn’t feel at all compelled to choose the “dark” route in this situation. If players are going to be given the option to choose between being an altruistic do-gooder and a selfish prick, there should be compelling reasons to pick both sides so the aspect of choice doesn’t feel tacked on.

All in all, it’s hard to get a read on A Near Dawn from my short time with it. The prologue is free to download, so if the promise of a “charming yet devastating psychological thriller” sounds intriguing to you, it might be worth looking into. This game will live or die by how meaningful it makes player choices, and while the demo inspires confidence, it’s ultimately a bit too soon to see how well the game will handle these decisive moments. Here’s hoping the game capitalizes on the positives from this prologue to create a satisfying interactive narrative.

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