Day Watch Review

Vampires, battling good and evil, supernatural humans possessing mystical powers; sounds like your average fantasy/sci-fi plot, right? But what if all of this takes place present day, and in Russia? Day Watch was developed by Nival Interactive, who is most famous for Heroes of Might & Magic V and Silent Storm. While being based in Moscow themselves, Nival decided to develop the game entirely in Russian, which sounds fine for anyone that is Russian. So what about the rest of the world? Unfortunately, you have to suffer through a poorly translated game with half-baked gameplay mechanics. The plot is pretty neat and there are some interesting magical powers to wield, but everything else is rather mediocre.

Day Watch is based on a planned trilogy of films (which are based on a series of novels) from director Timur Bekmambetov. Night Watch, the first film, was released in 2004; Day Watch, the second, is opening in the U.S. in June. The trilogy is based around a "truce" between the forces of light and the forces of dark, where both sides keep watch over one another to make sure no one breaks any rules. Living with humans are supernatural beings belonging to the two sides, named Others. This is where you come in Day Watch as Anna, an Other who is living in Moscow some years after the events of Night Watch went down.

As an Other, you’re imbued with some magical abilities. First, you have the power to shift from reality to an alternate reality called Twilight. While I’m sure it’s necessary in terms of the magical/supernatural world that the game/movies take place in, it’s pretty unnecessary in-game. To me, including Twilight in the game was just another excuse to add another unneeded element to combat. In the end, while it does add some strategy to how you choose your skills to use, it’s rather unnecessary to be able to fight in reality and in Twilight because most of your enemies will fight only in Twilight anyway.

Luckily, you also get some magical powers, and they’re pretty interesting and entertaining to watch. Starting out, you only get a few weak magic spells but as you level up you gain better ones, and your already existing powers increase in potency. One weak magic spell is called Magic Press — it sucks away an enemy’s health after each round. As you gain levels, it’ll suck away more health after each round and is harder to resist.

Other magic skills include Triple Blade, a ranged attack where you throw three blades; Remorse, basically a thorns attack; and Freezing, which freezes enemies in their tracks. Certain magical powers can only be used in Twilight or in reality, like I stated before, so make sure to choose which ones to use wisely. For example, Gremlin is only usable in Twilight and as the name implies, it summons a Gremlin. As you level up, you can control the Gremlin even longer.

Day Watch is part RPG and part turn-based strategy. You got your NPC interaction, inventory organization, experience gaining, and quests that make up the RPG part while the combat system makes up the turn-based part. You have a set number of action points to use every round of combat so be sure to plan them out. Thankfully, the game labels any/all actions with the appropriate number of action points so you won’t be fooled that you just spent all your points by running up to an enemy to just have him shoot you in the face. However, the point system is rather unforgiving. Just simply turning costs action points, which is pretty stupid.

You’ll be picking up a lot of items during your journeys and at first glance it’ll seem to be just random stuff — apples, dolls, cards, etc. But all of these items are essential to fuel your magical powers. Apples and chocolate bars fuel your healing and magic restoration powers, for example. For whatever reason, you can’t eat apples to regain health; you have to cast a spell on them in order to regain health, which seems impractical since you have to use energy to eat something that’ll refuel your energy.

While the gameplay itself is rather stale and nothing new, the game’s weakest point is by far is the translation. Since this game was developed by a Russian team, the translations to English definitely hit bumps on the road; no, not even bumps: complete and utter disastrous car wrecks on the road. While I’m used to seeing a spelling or grammar error every so often in an international game, the errors in Day Watch are completely horrendous. These aren’t even minute errors, these are obvious and glaring errors — poor grammar usage, clear spelling errors, and not even a hint of a proofread or simple spellcheck run. All of the in-game dialog is spoken in Russian, so I hope you’re ready for some heavy-duty reading of subpar subtitles. I don’t have any problems reading text (classic 1990 RPGs conditioned my brain) but since most of it is riddled with errors, this opens up some major borefests and confusing moments.

Want some examples? Try approaching a salesman and he’ll say, "What would you like to take," which isn’t too bad — it’s some of the better translating. When Anna encounters a group of Night Watch (light guys that patrol the night), she exclaims, "It is the Night Watch underpaid work performed collectively!" I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what that means. Randomly placed adjectives in sentences, poorly structured statements, and just bizarre quotations made me not only laugh like this is some hilariously bad B-movie, but also sigh in frustration and anger.

Other problems in the game include extremely awkward AI animations (especially in conversations), clipping (due to limitations of the engine), and just obvious graphical glitches. When talking to NPCs, you’ll be treated to random hand movements, awkward pauses and faces devoid of any emotion. It’s things like this that make any game — especially a RPG that relies on interaction with NPCs — unpleasant to play through. In addition to NPC conversations, if you happen to talk with someone but end up standing too close, your hand movements, head pivots, or arm swinging will just clip through the NPC. There was one scene where Anna’s car crashed into another car. Upon collision, the car magically transformed into an entirely different car — make and model and color, which just seemed so weird, and it doesn’t look like a magic spell altered the car at all, if that was the explanation.

Day Watch has an interesting concept and some neat spells, but its buried underneath miles of poorly translated text, poor AI (stupid pathfinding problems — ugh!), lanky animations, obvious graphical glitches, and a poorly implemented RPG system. The two films were hugely successful in their native country and earned some dough and cult followers over in the U.S (such as our EiC Brendon), so instead of shelling out $30 for this game, watch the movies or read the books instead. They’re cheaper, and certainly more enjoyable.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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