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Deep and Approachable, November 24, 2008
Perhaps the best compliment I could give to Nightfall is that playing it never once felt like work. The prose is concise, the puzzles (which are more like semi-realistic obstacles) are simple and straightforward, and there are a number of handy features to keep you on track.
Nightfall is primarily a game of exploration. The nameless main character has remained behind in an evacuated city to try and find his aloof and alluring female friend, and as he proceeds through the eerily deserted streets, bittersweet memories of his (until now, platonic) relationship with her come flooding back. Intriguing things are also afoot in the present, as you follow one step behind this mysterious woman, pondering her possible involvement with or against the strange powers at work in the city - and wondering just how much the PC is right to admire her.
Nightfall flows very easily. For the most part, I think this is simply the result of good decisions at the most basic levels of design and writing. But it helps that the author has also gone above and beyond the call of duty to add advanced features to help players get into the story. The player character can THINK about what he's learned and what options that knowledge points towards - and if you're stuck he can THINK HARDER (a nice phrase to type when you're lost, I feel) and come up with more explicit pointers. As a resident of the city, he can also GO TO locations - something that perhaps is more useful than it should be, given the realistically convoluted depiction of typical urban English geography.
Sometimes I think that IF authors forget that the vast potential for their games to accept varied and subtle commands, even those commands most commonly used by other games, can leave many players throwing up their arms in frustration - can turn away everyone not completely used to (or fond of) the crossword-narrative hybrid that some consider intrinsic to the medium. With Nightfall, I think that we have a nice example of an IF game that makes it easy to take part, while still providing the challenge of exploration and the involvement of decision-making.