The Night Watch movie set box office records in Russia, but in the United States it's still relatively unknown. Recently the movie was released on DVD in North America, and as you might expect from a movie about vampires, sorcerers, and the supernatural, a video game adaptation has shown up as well. Rather than taking the more obvious route of a standard third-person action adventure game, developer Nival Interactive has created a turn-based role-playing game based on its Silent Storm engine. The mention of Silent Storm is enough to catch the attention of strategy fans everywhere, but Night Watch fails to live up to its pedigree. The game does have a genuinely interesting story that complements the movie well, but it's too shallow and repetitive to satisfy strategy vets, and too ugly and awkward to appeal to anyone else.
It's got the recipe for success: vampires, shape-shifters, alternate dimensions...
Night Watch the game is set in the same world as the movie, but it follows a different story. The game opens with a man named Stas on top of a building with a sniper rifle trained on an unsuspecting woman. Apparently Stas' mother is sick, and he needs some quick cash in order to afford her necessary treatment. He takes an assassination job, but when it comes time to pull the trigger, Stas has second thoughts. Just then, some people appear out of thin air and Stas is informed that he is an "other."
See, in the world of Night Watch, there's a constant struggle that takes place between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. The forces of darkness like to terrorize the human population, so the forces of light have to keep them in check. Each force is composed of an army of people who have supernatural powers. The problem is that the two forces are so equally matched that if they were ever to attempt an all-out war it would end up destroying both forces, along with the rest of the world. So, for the sake of survival, the dark others and the light others sign a treaty that makes it a crime for others to engage in combat. The light others keep an eye on the dark others during the night watch, and the dark others keep an eye on the light others in the day watch. Of course, it wouldn't be much of a story if the two forces always played by the rules, so instead of all-out warfare the others often resort to trickery and deception to get their way.
Stas comes into all of this because he's a sort of undeclared other, which means he's an other who hasn't yet been drawn to the light or the dark. In an attempt to turn him toward the darkness, the dark others set him up on the assassination mission, knowing that he couldn't be a member of the light side if he were a cold-blooded killer. The light others catch on and stop him before he commits the act, thus recruiting him to the light side. Stas then begins his life as a light other, enforcing the law of the treaty, protecting the innocent, and so on. The story in the game actually does a better job of explaining some of the more abstract concepts than the movie does, so even if you haven't seen the movie you'll still be able to catch on quickly.
Night Watch is a modern-day turn-based strategy game involving vampires, werewolves, witches, and a wide variety of other supernatural creatures. You can have anywhere from one to four characters in your party, although your party is determined by the story and you have no say in who you get to recruit. Each of your characters can be one of three classes. The shape-shifter is the equivalent of a fighter due to its high defense and melee attack capabilities; the mage has weak defense but powerful attack spells; and the enchanter can imbue everyday objects like flashlights and apples with magic energy that grants powerful special effects. Each class has around 20 spells and abilities that become available as you kill enemies and earn experience. Even then, the character customization feels extremely limited with only three classes to choose from, and the new spells and abilities you gain access to are hardly worth the effort. In fact, you'll probably find yourself using the same few basic tactics right up to the end of the game.
...but it all comes together in a watered-down and uninspired game.