NIGHT/SHADE: You’re the Drug is best described as an adult, visual novel where a young, spunky protagonist by the name of Sasha is thrown into the middle of a war between two crime syndicates, all while dealing with the fact that he is surrounded by hot people. Oh and there’s probably going to be a lot of crying, too. Sex also. But mostly crying. Grief does that.
Quirky introduction aside, the demo of NIGHT/SHADE is what I’ve chosen for Gayme of the Week, and for a very good reason. The Kickstarter has just edged its way onto the scene, and after reading more about it, it may be the futuristic tale of queer love that we’ve been searching for, Cyberpunk 2077 be damned.
You play as Sasha, a drug dealer who lives a cushy lifestyle alongside best friend Mishka. In the impressive opening sequence of NIGHT/SHADE you learn that, in spite of this fairly comfortable friendship that Mishka and Sasha share, they both have their secrets. Mishka for example is an assassin who hides his lifestyle in order to protect his friend and potential love interest – if you play your cards right, that is.
After that thrilling introduction of the neon city of Sobene, you’re thrust into the demo to watch Mishka take down a drug dealer. It’s a small scene, but the art is slick and stylish from the very beginning and builds atmosphere from the glow of the phone right to the bustle and lights of the city below.
Once you see your best friend cut down some random dealer, you finally take control of Sasha. Instead of the rough and tumble environment of an assassination scene, players are allowed to breathe by picking Sasha’s order in a burger joint. Already we’re allowed to see a little more of his character, someone who is indecisive, a little selfish, and who wants more from their life but unable to push themselves to make that change. He is, ultimately, a character who many of us can relate to, though I’m not entirely sold on what him being a drug dealer adds to him and the story so far. Unfortunately, the demo doesn’t do much to answer that question, either. But I remain curious rather than put-off.
Something as simple as buying a burger and heading off to eat it at the local park may not sound like a big, explosive opening, but it helps in easing players away from the already larger-than-life city of Sobene and into who Sasha really is. A quiet moment in a big world.
The quiet of the world quickly falls away when Sasha gets home to reveal that someone is inside his home. Sadly this is where the demo cuts away, and we’re left with more questions than answers. An intense start to a promising game.
It’s a shame then that, despite all of the intensity this game offers, it feels as though the writing tries to give players too much information. While trying to get the story across to players isn’t necessarily a bad thing, too much about how characters are feeling feels very much like telling rather than showing. While a character getting ‘lost in the memories in his head’ is fine, just ‘getting lost in his memories’ works too. That’s a little nitpicky on my part, and considering it’s a demo, I’m sure it’ll improve. That is, if the Kickstarter gets funded. Cough, cough.
If you’re intrigued by NIGHT/SHADE and want to try out the demo for yourself, head on over to the game’s itch.io page!
Gayme of the Weekis a weekly column by Aimee Hart about indie LGBT+ games that she’s played and what she loves about them. If you’ve got any recommendations, be sure to contact her on Twitter (@AimemeRights) or email (email@example.com).