Have you ever felt torn between if you want to watch something on the TV or play a video game? If so, why not combine the two and experience an interactive FMV cinematic adventure, putting yourself in the seat of the director as you control the events and dialogue which plays out before you. We’ve covered a number of experiences in the genre before but this week we’ve taken a second look at Dark Nights with Poe and Munro, which has just launched on both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One (with a Nintendo Switch release coming later this year).
Dark Nights with Poe and Munro is a six-episode TV Series-like FMV game, developed and published by husband and wife developer, D’Avekki Studios. Fans of the genre should be familiar with this developer as they’re the studio behind two previous FMV mysteries; The Shapeshifting Detective and The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker. They even publish their own whodunnit murder mystery party games which you can host (once lockdown is over) with a group of friends.
I played and reviewed this game on PC back in May 2020, yet I purposely only played it once and didn’t go back to see the alternative scenes – so that it would be fresh once I got my hands on the console version. So, here we are, almost a full 12 months later thanks to a certain global event which I’ll avoid talking about! But, did I enjoy the game as much as I did the first time or has it been overshadowed by other recent titles in the genre? Let’s find out…
As mentioned above, Dark Nights with Poe and Munro is made up of six 30-40 minute episodes which all have their own self-contained story. However, there are a few elements that follow through, referencing previous episodes and characters as you progress. In a way, based on the theme, protagonists, and subject matter, the entire mini-series feels like the UK version of The X-Files, only with less dramatic incidents and British humour. Both Poe and Munro are the local radio presenters in August (the town), finding themselves in the middle of mysterious and supernatural occurrences – are they drawn to the town or our protagonists?
Both Poe (Klemens Koehring) and Munro (Leah Cunard) are also featured within the brilliant The Shapeshifting Detective, yet no prior knowledge is required due to Dark Nights with Poe and Munro being a prequel. If you’ve played the former game and gone down a certain pathway then you’ll understand why it’ll be impossible for this to be a sequel, unless we presume certain events didn’t happen.
This game is different to the developer’s prior FMV adventures, as mentioned in my PC review. The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker had you manually type in your questions as you interrogated patients to discover who killed the doctor, and The Shapeshifting Detective was similar to this game but more linear (although it had a cool mechanic where you could shapeshift into anyone you’ve spoken to then go back and talk to the other people, as that person). Dark Nights with Poe and Munro has a lot of missable scenes, with your choices sending you down different paths that change the narrative and information you gather.
In order to see everything, you’ll find yourself playing through each episode multiple times – not just for the trophies, but also to see what happens and how our quirky duo react to one another with their entertaining banter.
Most of the episodes are more akin to an interactive FMV adventure, having you pick what objects Poe and Munro interact with, how they’ll respond to a scene, or what they’ll do next. These choices are presented as non-descriptive icons or symbols over the choice – for example, sometimes you’ll be asked to pick one of the protagonists to either speak or react, yet you don’t actually know what they’ll do or say until you pick them. Although this sounds a little cryptic and mysterious, that just makes it more replayable as you literally don’t know what’s going to happen if you pick the other options.
There is an episode that is more interactive than the rest, you’re looking for a boy who has gone missing after school. In this episode, you’re literally in the driving seat as you get to pick who the pair go and talk to and who does the talking. In this chapter, we’re also introduced to a recurring star of D’Avekki Studios‘ games – Aislinn De’ath. All three of their games are linked in the same universe, but Aislinn plays two characters within the DDCU (the Doctor Dekker Cinematic Universe); she plays Violet, the owner of the Guest House in both Dark Nights with Poe and Munro and The Shapeshifting Detective, yet she’s also Marianna in The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, a disturbed young lady who often finds herself naked in the sea when she wakes up in the morning…
Speaking of Doctor Dekker, Munro has a mysterious past which is brought to light in one of the episodes as the two titles merge perfectly, seeing the return of the fan-favourite leather sofa. I love how the tone of the game shifts from the sarcastic and timid personality of Munro to the dark and troublesome persona, it brings back lots of memories from when I first played Doctor Dekker many years ago.
Do the choices matter?
Each episode gives you multiple choices which can change the narrative, the events you see, and even the ending of that particular chapter. I’m not sure how many (if any) of your choices filter through to the other episodes, but in one something happened which led to a person dying, yet this was brought up and referenced in a later episode. Had I not experienced that, would it have mentioned it? I’m not sure, but I’d like to think that the game remembered my choices and adjusted certain scenes and the dialogue around them.
At the end of each episode, you get a Telltale-like infographic of how your choices look in comparison to everyone else who has played the game (if you have the feature enabled). It’ll tell you the various options you could have chose and the percentage of people who picked each one, so you can see if you’re thinking the same as everyone else or being completely unique. I tend to pick the options which I feel will distress and annoy the protagonists the most, so I found myself in the minority on most occasions!
If you’re playing the game for viewers on a streaming platform, or you have an issue that stops you from reacting quickly, you can stop the timer which usually counts down when given a choice to make. This means you can take your time and discuss it with your viewers, if applicable.
One of the big reasons for picking different options, outside of simply wanting to see how the duo react within the game, is to obtain the various trophies which are based on picking certain things. The trophies in Dark Nights with Poe and Munro aren’t too hard to figure out, there are a few guides from the PC release which you could follow. But, I’d say simply play it naturally without a guide, to begin with, exploring the various things you want to see – then come back to it via the chapter select in order to clean up later on.
Is it funny or serious?
The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker was quite serious, bar the responses you get for asking silly questions, and The Shapeshifting Detective was more light-hearted with a serious concept (investigating a murder) yet it contained characters with humorous personalities. Dark Nights with Poe and Munro doesn’t take itself seriously, with the duo often cracking jokes when on the urge of death or being sarcastic to one another despite the situation they’re in. I found myself laughing a lot throughout the game, despite knowing what was going to happen next due to playing it last year.
I love the small things, such as having mugs with their names on, only to have Poe’s replaced with “(Not Edgar) Poe” after an episode where he’s mistaken for Edgar Allan Poe. The cast all played their parts perfectly, slipping into the skin of their casted personas and providing comedy and high quality acting throughout. From the seductive and malicious nature of Violet in the guesthouse to the insane Millicent who invades Poe and Munro’s charity event, an event which sees the two of them share a bed on stream and raising a massive amount of money in the first 12 hours!
The game does switch over to dark humour as it enters the cross-over with Doctor Dekker, but it’s not anything that will trigger people, there’s a bit of gruesome imagery within the dialogue but no images. If you’ve not played The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker then the shift may confuse you at first, but I’d also highly recommend you pick up that game, and The Shapeshifting Detective – if you like this game then you’ll love them also.
I found a scene which I’d not seen before, in which Poe and Munro sing to each other because they’d been told to stop talking. I found that so out of place and hilarious – the singing wasn’t bad, it was just so strange what they were singing about. However, this does mean that I now want more duets with the two of them, I know Tim and Lynda (the creators) will be reading this, so let’s make it happen!
As this FMV adventure is all filmed video, there’s little to talk about in terms of visual quality. The video looks nice on my 55 inch TV, despite being in 1080p (I believe), and the UI is nice and crisp with no sign of any stray bananas (a glitch the developers posted on Twitter a few months ago). However, there was one scene that was far too dark for some reason, I can’t remember the episode but it’s dark and you have to pick Poe or Munro, but you can’t even see them to know which is which (Poe is on the Left). Other than that one moment though, the rest of the game is shot perfectly and feels like you’re watching a TV show with a high production budget.
The music is great, the acting is perfect, and the volume levels were all spot-on. It’s a shame the soundtrack isn’t on PSN or available to listen to via the main menu (so we can sneakily record it), but maybe that’s something which’ll be considered when the inevitable limited run physical edition is created?
Also, on your first playthrough, you can’t skip any videos or dialogue, but when you replay the chapter you can push Circle to do so. However, it skips all dialogue if the option is enabled, rather than just what you’ve seen previously. I’d prefer that option as it means you won’t accidentally skip something new – a feature Wales Interactive uses in their FMV games.
There are two things that I wish were a little different/updated. First of all, all the trophy images are the same icon (the image of the duo stood back-to-back). On Steam, which has the same trophies, all the trophies have their own image. So I’m not quite sure why they’re all the same on PSN – maybe they were a placeholder and not replaced? Second, Sony needs to let developers know how to add title music to their game so that it plays when highlighted on the PS5. It’s very hit or miss at the moment with this as even some AAA games don’t have any music playing.
Yes, I’m being very picky with the above paragraph, but it’s because it’s hard to find fault or improvements for this game!
Dark Nights with Poe and Munro is a brilliant FMV cinematic adventure, putting you in the driving seat of August’s answer to Mulder and Scully (Post X-files when they’re forced to run a radio station talking about dreams, nightmares, and the supernatural). Each episode has its own self-contained story, offering choices that will not only alter the dialogue and scenes, but also the ending of each one. There’s replayability for those who wish to grab all the trophies and/or see what the other choices lead to, often resulting in more quirky banter between our protagonists or a random piece of dialogue you’d never have expected. If you like FMV games where you’re in control of the events, you need to pick up this game today – also, go and buy The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker and The Shapeshifting Detective whilst you’re at it!
Additional on-screen cast
VIOLET GALLACHER… Aislinn De’Ath (Doctor Dekker, The Shapeshifting Detective)
QUENTIN WATTS… Andre Lecointe
HENRIETTA… April Moon
MISS CLAY… Ashleigh Cole
MILLICENT… Ayvianna Snow
WESMARIE BOLTON… Effy Willis
DALLAS UMBER… Ingrid Evans
MADAME BARATSKY… Lara Lemon
CURATOR TOOMS… Peter Revel-Walsh
ROSE… Rachel Cowles (Doctor Dekker, The Shapeshifting Detective)
CURATOR JONES… Rick Romero
KASPER LIGHT… Vincent Gould
JOE WATTS… Warrick Simon
FRANKIE… Justin McElroy (MBMBaM, The Adventure Zone)
BECK… Joseph Beacham (My Time in Portia)
ERIC PLANNER… David Homb (Phantasmagoria)
CALLER 2… Barry Aldridge
JAZ… Jessica Kinghorn
ISI… Joe Maw (CBBC’s The Dumping Ground, The Shapeshifting Detective)
EDDI… Bobby Sixkilla
QUEENIE… Alex Furness
HELENA… Kimmy Mauldin
ARVIN… Jesse Cox (Monster Prom, The Completionist, The Shapeshifting Detective)
Q… Eli Diaz
Dark Nights with Poe and Munro£9.99
- - Six interesting and replayable stories
- - Great acting, music and cinematography
- - Funny and light-hearted
- - Anyone can pick up and play the game
- - The choices can change the scenes, dialogue or ending in each episode
- - I wish the episodes were a little longer, giving the supporting cast more screen time
- - The PS5 tile has no music and the trophies are all the same image (I'm being very picky here)
- - There's no included soundtrack containing duets with Poe and Munro singing about mundane things together!