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About the Story
The Night Market is an interactive fiction novel in which you awaken to a lantern filled world with no memory of how you got there. Desperate to get home, you must find the gate that leads back to your world, while navigating a foreign land, rife with political intrigue, arbitrary rules and secrets designed to keep you distracted. Nine barons rule the market , a place so vast that not even they can truly know its scope. But, one baron holds the key to your safe return home. Yet, no one has seen or heard from him in over a decade.
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This review is about the released version of the Night Market.
It's a high-fantasy interactive story set in the Night Market, the nexus of all worlds, where one, usually, can't enter easily without someone having invited them there. The main character however, finds themselves in this very nexus, forcefully pulled, and to make things worse: not remembering a single damn thing about themselves. By the end of this first book, this identity amnesia is over thanks to the help of several important characters, with whom you can build meaningful relationships, be it friendships or romantic ones.
Aesthetically pleasing UI, dope-looking logo, good story pacing, interestingly complex characters, plot twists galore and multiple story branches that lead to a cliffhanger ending. What could anyone want more from a game of this genre?
The final version, released just yesterday, has a far better writing flow than before, on the first draft that most fans have read about.
There is one thing to be kept in mind for those players which are used to games having a stat page (stat-heavy IF games): This game doesn't have one. At least not in the traditional sense. You don't have stat bars for the relationships, as they are being tracked as hidden variables, though you will be able to understand your standing with the characters from the way they respond to your choices. But, it's worth noting, that the character sheet does hold the general information about you (the choices the player has made through the diverse list of costumization options).
As shown on the free demo and in the final version, there is a "Notable Achievements" page and a "The Barons" page which tracks which barons of the Night Market you have met.
The worldbuilding is astounding, beautifully shown rather than told by the writer in the form of a codex, by making use of the characters to reveal details of the Night Market, and of events where MC plays a crucial role in. This is what makes the narration engaging.
My sole dislike here would be how a poly route (Milo x Malcolm) and solo route (Belladonna) are being written, with two of the characters in this relationship being for open relationships. Alas, it's my personal dislike towards such relationships, but everyone has their own taste.
It doesn't have noticeable grammar errors nor does it have problems with pacing, but for some it might be a little too fast-paced, if they are a fan of those slice-of-life moments in between the chapters.
As stated before, all the characters are interestingly complex. Not only their personality or their backstory, but the relationships they have created with each other too. So messy! Both their friendships and previous romantic ones, with the latter having been damaged due to the poor decisions one party or the other has taken. Take Gabriel and Belladonna for example, where the desire to protect him, but the cowardice of hurting him directly, led her to doing something that made Gabriel make the decision of distancing from each other, damaging their relationship permanently... or at least until MC arrives, who has the opportunity to help them repair their relationship.
Each and every character has been carefully crafted and written in such a way that they are fiercely independent and faithful to their desires/themselves. Unlike most choice-based games, where every single decision and reaction they make, revolves around pleasing MC, here, even if you are very close to each other, they will respond accordingly if you do or say something they don't like. For each of them, in a romantic relationship, healthy communication is key to everything.
I'd like for my dear Hazel to gain more popularity in the upcoming books though ):
Overall rating: 9.66 (5/5 in IFDB rating scale)
I'd recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre (it has a free demo available if you want to give it a try) and those who have enjoyed romance games like Wayhaven Chronicles (in spite of my opinion on the third book). You can play the free demo and buy it on steam or itch.io. It's available for Windows, Mac and Android/IOS.
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