Nightgate Free for a Week – A 21st Century Rabbit Hole

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The premise is simple, although I’m only a short way down this beautifully presented rabbit hole, and I suspect there might be some twists ahead in this story. It may yet turn out that things are not as they seem. Set a few hundred years into the future, Nightgate is all that’s left of life on Earth, if you can call an intelligent network of computers life. A message invites players to step inside the system.

Accepting the invitation opens up what is essentially a game of avoidance, controlled using the Siri Remote, with obstacles increasing in complexity as nodes are activated that take you deeper towards the core. It’s a simple style of game, more often associated with a mobile game than console, but as I wrote in my opening, Nightgate looks and sounds amazing.

I’ve called it an electronic rabbit hole because it’s a trip. An entrancing journey that draws you down and in, with the sense that you really are going deeper in towards something thanks to the depth the visuals create, with their faux-3D depictions and backgrounds. Each successful level has players hitting a pad that continues ever inwards to the next challenge.

As you progress, the music builds. Initial washes of synth pads evolve into beats and rhythm, becoming more active depending on the context. The partnership between the visuals and soundscapes heightens player involvement, elevating Nightgate’s simple gameplay.

Developer Semidome Inc. have shown with Nightgate its capable of adding enough intriguing layers to the simple genre of obstacle avoidance with imagination and creativity, to make it worth playing on a big screen as a main focus, rather than as a mobile distraction. Hopefully being singled out as Apple’s Free App of the Week will gain the studio some much deserved attention, and I look forward to its next project.

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