Adventure Corner: Evil Tonight
Welcome to Adventure Corner, a column where members of the RPGamer staff can give their thoughts, impressions, and pseudo-reviews for various adventure titles that don’t come under our usual coverage. Adventure Corner is aimed at delivering opinions on a wide range of titles including visual novels, point-and-click adventures, investigative mysteries, and so forth.
In this edition of the column we take a look at Evil Tonight by DYA Games, available on Nintendo Switch and PC.
It was a dark and stormy night, because isn’t it always? No other sort of weather would suit a game with a title like Evil Tonight, a light-horror survival action game from DYA Games. On just such a night, Silvia Bellini slips through the rusted gates of the San Paolo De Rosa Academy for the Performing Arts in Florence, Italy. Once a prestigious institution, San Paolo De Rosa closed its doors a decade ago following a tragic death and ensuing mysterious phenomenon. The place is said to be cursed and haunted, which is why Silvia is there. As a professional psychic and medium, it’s her job to contact the wayward ghost on its own level of existence, in the form of a psychic overlay that restores to the decrepit buildings a degree of their former glory and then populates it with dangerous figments of the imagination in the form of monsters, demons, and murder-dolls. And just to complicate things, a quartet of adventurous teens snuck in while Bianca was setting up, and they’ve gotten themselves pulled into the astral hallucination as well.
The game shows some definite inspirations from such titles as Sweet Home and the original Resident Evil, but its graphical style hearkens back to the late SNES period, with spritework similar to Romancing SaGa 3 or Quintet’s titles. Silvia creeps or dashes around the academy, where every shadow may hide another nightmare ready to strike. Visibility in this game is variable and dynamic, fading with distance from light sources and occasionally illuminated by flashes of lightning. While monsters tend to stay dead, some areas will repopulate at certain points in the plot, generally with nastier things than before, and the shadows help to punish the complacent when backtracking is needed.
What makes this one survival action instead of action RPG? Mainly the lack of stats or advancement systems. Silvia starts with a knife and a handgun, picking up a few other weapons over the course of the adventure, but otherwise there is no difference in her abilities at the start or at the end of the adventure. Evil Tonight is not a long game. In fact, it appears to have been designed with the option for speed-running in mind. But in its short runtime, it presents a large campus to explore, a good selection of unique puzzles, and four boss battles.
Most of the improvement over the course of the game will be on the part of the player as they learn how to navigate the game’s map, how to solve the puzzles, and how best to deal with murderous figments of a tortured soul’s imagination. Some enemies can easily be dispatched with a few slices of the knife, if one minds the stamina bar properly, while others will require seven bullets directly to the face before they slow down. The puzzles may be easy enough to solve once one knows the trick to them, but the clues are semi-randomized so that the player will in fact need to solve them every single time because the actual solutions will be different. The boss battles are clever and frantic, again reminiscent of the SNES titles from Quintet, and they each have elements of problem-solving to find the boss’s weak point.
All in all, Evil Tonight stands as a fun and interesting addition to the indie games scene. This is one of those titles that was definitely made from a place of love for the genre, and it’s telling that the developer credits list is 90% dominated by two guys with the same surname. So, mad props go to the brothers Vilchez, Alberto and Dani, proud indie developers. I will have to check out the other games in their catalogue soon.