NOCT Preview


-The last survivor I tried to help didn’t make it. I need you to loot the carcass.

-That’s fucked up.

-Don’t make this any wierder than it already is.

Noct is a very, very distinctly grim experience. Interestingly similar to Limbo in that regard, the game places us in the boots of, essentially, two characters at the same time. The above discourse is one of the several that play out every once in a while, as you assume control over a new survivor. Aside from the survivor, whom you as a player control, the game is rendered from the perspective of a distant operator, the mission giver, who contacts the survivors when the need arises.


It’s dead now. Hopefully…

Set in a ruined, desolate and monstrous world that’s – to me – reminiscent of a post-nuclear catastrophe wasteland, Noct is a very deliberately executed horror game. The action plays out from the perspective of a military drone that’s overlooking the currently controlled survivor, which is obvious from the heat-based viewpoint, where you can toggle between black-hot and white-hot as you could in, say, Modern Warfare’s AC-130 mission.

Upon spawning into the game world, there’s no context to go on, aside from the operator I mentioned earlier contacting the currently controlled survivor that he or she requires their assistance. The job is pretty straightforward and simple, in and of itself. The survivor has to run from one place to another, picking items up along the way to serve an end goal of some sort (not yet implemented in the Early Access iteration). From that point on, it’s up to the player – you – to carry out these seemingly random tasks all the while doing your best to avoid the things that go bump in the dark. And there’s a whole lot of those crawling around in Noct.

Gameplay-wise, there’s little complexity in this title. The control scheme is standard for the given bird-eye viewpoint, albeit it takes a bit of time to figure out what’s what on the nicely fitting HUD. Aside from moving around, there’s some additional spatial awareness available in the form of a digital area map, which comes in handy when following the given directions, simply because you’ll often have to scour uncharted areas of the gamemap for ammunition and gadgetry.

To say that the ammunition is scarce would be a severe understatement. The most you’ll ever start the game with is a full magazine. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a sub-machine gun. If you’re luckier, there’ll be a handgun and a grenade in store for you instead – it’s all quite random up until you gain control over a survivor, really. Thankfully, the nocturnal predatory monsters are somewhat rare as well, albeit beefy as all hell. It usually takes about ten-fifteen rounds to down a creep, but depending on their size, some explosives may well be necessary also. For the most part, then, Noct is an atmospheric horror game in which players roam the wasteland in search of key items, or, simply doing their best to survive.


Those sure are guts.

The visible area around the controlled survivor is pretty limiting, concerning the size and speed of the roaming monstrosities, but the controlled character will voice his increasingly fearful demeanor when a creep gets uncomfortably close. Mind you, a single swipe will be enough to crush/shred the survivor easily, so you generally want to keep your distance in combat.

Noct is, primarily, a multiplayer survival game where you definitely will want to find a cooperative buddy to fight through the darkness with. The issue of backstabbing concerned me at first, but the vast majority of active players were ‘friendly’ up until this point. There’s also the matter of actually being able to kill the other guy, because the ammo is as scarce as it is and, upon respawning, you’ll often be better equipped than you were the first time around. Besides, seeing as how the monsters are extremely dangerous in Noct, fighting other players isn’t something you actually want to be doing lest you become monster chow even sooner than you expected.

The thermally-enhanced viewpoint does wonders for what could have been a fairly ordinary monster shooter game. Players are forced to imagine things on the go, because the render is extremely minimal, and our stupid mammal brains are rigged to be scared by our own imaginations. The scene of encountering the barely recognizable corpse of your previously controlled survivor, only to be beset by his/her murderer moments later is chilling to say the least, and the discernible detachment that’s present due to the way the game is played doesn’t help one bit either. The sound design works also, but lacks the oomph the rest of the experience serves up, at least that’s what I believe. The soundtrack is pretty good though, I’ll give it that.

I do have a concern about Noct, however. An average player will see the most of the game’s content in about half an hour, give or take. The rest depends entirely on its multiplayer component. This wouldn’t be an issue per se, since this is only an Early Access release and all that, had it not been clearly stated on the game’s Steam page that it’s almost done, content-wise.

“Noct is in a highly polished beta stage with most of the content already integrated into the game. The purpose of Early Access is to improve and polish existing content, finalize the remaining acts of the narrative, and introduce additional modes and features for players.”

There’s a plan displayed on the site that looks quite promising, with the game slated to release early in 2016. All we can do right now is experience the current build and hope the developers recognize the potential Noct has as it currently stands.