Review: Reminiscence in the Night (Nintendo Switch)

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Reminiscence in the Night is a somber visual novel, thankfully with welcomed choices. Actually, it’s more of a visual short story. It’s not a long title, and the narrative is often single sentences. Does it work? In certain respects, but overall its execution is mediocre.

You play as someone who has lost their memory, a thought-provoking premise. You awake in a two-room apartment consisting of your living room and bedroom. With the bulk of the art limited to this locale, you’d think a bathroom and kitchen would’ve been included. At least the music seems to mesh with what’s happening in the story, so I’d say that’s an aesthetic success. Ambiguous at the start, picking up in intensity as things are learned, but always melancholy.

On paper, you should connect with the lead, whom you can name, thanks to the largely second-person perspective. But there are missed opportunities to develop back or side stories. While I can’t say the writing is bad, it’s cryptic in a way that doesn’t prove beneficial. While the devs have pulled off enigmatic, it comes at the expense of taking me out of the story.

Part of that might stem from the title’s brevity. In theory, this could’ve broadened the appeal, as you don’t need to be a bookworm to appreciate Reminiscence in the Night. But the mature references actually make this approach more narrow in my estimation. The traumatic writing (that I won’t spoil) needed more time in the cooker. Don’t be fooled by the E10+ rating. This game has some strong content, for sure. Anger, crying, and sadness are all mentioned in the intro alone, even before the first visuals are displayed.

At least this brevity means avoidance of issues concerning pace; this title moves at a good clip. And multiple choices lead to numerous endings. I was let down by the first ending I got; poorly written, with little thought evident. But others answered some (but not all) of the questions I had. So collectively speaking, I’m content with the multiple endings, uneven though they are.

Replays fall into a pattern, although Reminiscence in the Night can’t really be called repetitive as it’s so short. It does feel undeveloped with its plot themes, attempting to tackle serious themes that deserve more time than is given here. But, while it’s not very memorable, it also doesn’t wind up being a frivolous tale. If you can accept the real potential for unresolved issues, it will likely leave you with questions, which is something. Although, I’m not sure it gives you enough details to make a truly informed interpretation.

I have a couple of ideas that I think would benefit future visual novels from this developer. While their M.O. doesn’t call for comedy, a bit of dark humor could work in context, potentially lightening the mood to some degree. Also, more characters (with even limited vocals) would be beneficial, lending some gravitas.

To elaborate, in this title, you have an unseen mother with who you chat over the phone. But your limited exchanges make her feel insignificant. More front and center is Sophia, a childhood friend. But she’s just sort of there, feeling underdeveloped like much of Reminiscence in the Night. The romantic element that most VN devs can’t resist feels cliched and shoehorned in. These tie into the missed opportunities for story development I mentioned earlier.

Reminiscence in the Night doesn’t offer much to keep you occupied, albeit at a modest $4.99 price. Choices that lead to different endings hold some appeal, but certain aspects of the script seriously lack. There’s also little balance between being cryptic and offering clarity. This release leaves you with questions but feels more rudimentary than sophisticated. 

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