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That Night Before - Act 1
Developer:Scurvyliver Entertainment
Publisher:Scurvyliver Entertainment
Release Date:2001
Article Posted:June 2006

You are enjoying a wonderful evening in the park with your girlfriend Natasha. The stars are beautiful in the nighttime sky. The entire park feels so calm and soothing. Yet you can’t help being excited. It is the night before the big event. A completely new chapter of your life is about to begin. Suddenly, Natasha exclaims about a bright light in the sky. You turn around to look. In an instant everything goes black.

Confused and dazed, you wake up in your room. Your memories of the previous night are blurred. You cannot remember exactly what happened and how you got to your room. Before you have a chance to recollect yourself, you hear the banging on the front door of your house. Hesitantly opening the door, you are confronted by a police officer. Agent Todd tells you that your girlfriend has been kidnapped. As if that wasn’t bad enough, you are the prime suspect.

Once he is satisfied that he has yelled at you enough, Agent Todd takes his leave. You realize it may only be a matter of time before the detective is back with an arrest warrant. You have to somehow piece together the clues and remember what happened last night. You might be the only one capable of uncovering the mystery and finding your missing girlfriend.

That Night Before is a pleasant episodic adventure game from Scurvyliver Entertainment. The game is divided into four chapters, but the story is structured to make each of these episodes feel like a complete albeit rather small adventure game. The first act of the game sets the tone for the rest of the adventure and gives players a chance to meet the main character Roy Haliway.

During the first act of That Night Before, Roy makes for a great character to control. There is something instantly likeable about his confused state at the beginning of the game. His appearance alone makes him come across as an honest, good-natured, yet gullible character. At the same time, he is gifted with the natural intuition and resourcefulness of an adventure game hero. There is no doubting that Roy will figure his way out of any situation. But the kind of trouble he may cause to himself and others during the process is a whole different matter.

Played from a third-person perspective, the game features a simple point-and-click interface. Three action buttons are placed along the bottom left corner of the game screen. Players can use these icons to examine objects, pickup inventory items, or talk to other characters. Roy’s inventory is also displayed along the bottom portion of the screen next to the action buttons. In order to use an item, players have to click on the use button, the inventory item, and the target object in the environment. If you click around the environment without selecting an action button, Roy will walk to the indicated spot. The mouse icon changes at sections that mark the exit of the area you are currently exploring. A single click will instruct Roy to walk to the exit. You can also double-click to make him instantly leave the location. A map is available to help you travel between different parts of the town.

The puzzles in the first act of That Night Before are fairly easy. Roy has a handful of locations to explore around the town as he tries to figure out what might have happened to his girlfriend. In the process, he will of course run into a number of obstacles. Most of the puzzles revolve around finding and using the correct inventory item. A careful survey of each location should reveal all the items you need. Clues for various puzzles are also provided through notes, conversations, or even item descriptions. Experienced adventure gamers should be able to solve the puzzles and complete the first episode without any trouble.

With its cartoon-like graphics, entertaining story, and light-hearted tone, the first act of That Night Before makes for an enjoyable adventure gaming experience. Even after taking into account that this is first chapter in a series, the game is a little too short. There also seem to be a couple of problems with the interface as the navigation icons do not always work. However, the positive aspects of the game more than make up for these problems. And if that is not enough, the game is available from the Scurvyliver Web site as a free download. If you can spare about half an hour of your time, there is no reason not to try That Night Before. All four acts of That Night Before can be downloaded from www.ScurvyLiver.com.