Dark Nights with Poe and Munro is more brilliantly insane entertainment from the people behind The Infectious Madness of Dr. Dekker and The Shapeshifting Detective.
I like interactive movies. As a youngster, such a statement would be met with a certain level of derision due to the fact that the mid-to-late 90s era of these games was weak to say the least. In recent years though, this genre has grown and grown into something really quite good. From the choice driven efforts of Late Shift and She Sees Red, to more experimental releases such as Her Story and the aforementioned The Infectious Madness of Dr. Dekker, there’s an ever growing collection of games for those looking for a narrative experience featuring real actors. Dark Nights with Poe and Munro is the latest release from D’Avekki Studios, featuring characters previously appearing in The Shapeshifting Detective.
Taking the form of an episodic TV show, Dark Nights with Poe and Munro features the titular characters hosting their night time radio show in the small town of August. Discussing things from local news to hosting calls from listeners, the pair find themselves caught up in strange happenings in the town over the course of six short, loosely connected stories. Over the course of each episode you’ll follow the pair on their adventures and make choices that will change how the tale progresses before reaching a conclusion that may or may not be satisfying depending on what you’ve discovered.
This being a choice driven game means you’ll only see a portion of what’s on offer in each playthrough. Thankfully, each episode clocks in at only around 25 minutes, meaning that a replay to find out more isn’t going to be too time intensive for those looking for a shorter experience. With that said, much like many games that follow this sort of structure, you can end up not really having a great narrative, or one that doesn’t make a huge amount of sense at times as you’ll only be getting part of the picture. This is clearly designed with multiple plays in mind.
More irritating though, is that some of the choices are really not very clear. At points in the story, you’ll be presented with a split screen view showing the different choices you can make. The problem here is that those choices are often very unclear. You might have Poe and Munro conversing about what objects could be in a mysterious vial before you need to decide between a sandwich and a drink. This makes little sense in the context and the significance of it is quite unclear. Choosing between phoning the police or locking a door could be presented as a phone and a door option, which makes sense, but this felt like the exception rather than the rule.
However, oddities like this do tie in to how quirky these episodes are. I got a sense of late 90s Saturday night British TV shows — who remembers Jonathan Creek? — which for someone my age I found quite enjoyable. The chemistry between Poe and Munro is tremendously engaging thanks to a combination of great acting and fun writing. Every time Poe started on a monologue I was utterly engaged with his voicework as I looked forward to Munro’s next cutting remark. Their relationship was a constant source of interest, as were the individual tales that were spun throughout each episode. From X-Files style investigations to an utterly bonkers Dr Dekker crossover, there was always something to enjoy.
It’s a shame though that the episodes didn’t link together in any meaningful way. Whilst you could see the developing relationship between the two lead characters, the choices you made in episode one seemed to have no real bearing on events in subsequent ones. This can be an issue with games like this, as huge arrays of branching paths can be very complex to bring back together, especially when live actors are involved, so I didn’t look on this too harshly. I did appreciate the (now fairly common) feature that showed how your choices compared to other players. Turns out I was in the minority in most instances. Read into that what you will.
In spite of a few flaws, I really enjoyed my time with Dark Nights with Poe and Munro. The utterly bonkers, almost David Lynch-esque stories kept me quite engaged as I awaited what insanity would crop up next, whilst the wonderful performances from the cast kept everything moving along very well. The excellent music punctuated the scenes well, although occasionally made it tricky to hear some of the dialogue. D’Avekki Studios continue to release fun, mysterious FMV games, and I continue to be keen to see what they do next. If it’s another season of this, I certainly wouldn’t mind spending another couple of dark nights in.