Majestic Nights – Chapter 1: Covert Genesis

Developer: Epiphany Games

Release Date: October 30th, 2014

Available On: Mobile, PC

Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on the PC. There may be differences between versions.

Sunset After Dark was, hands down, one of the worst introductions to an episodic series that I ever had the displeasure of playing and its only saving grace was that it was free. Trying to give developer Epiphany Games the benefit of the doubt, I moved onto the first real episode: Covert Genesis. But does Majestic Nights improve at all or is it still a mess?

Taking place an unspecified amount of time after Sunset After Dark, Covert Genesis changes viewpoints to a private investigator named Callie. After getting an assignment to find Cardholder from a mysterious man, Callie begins a long search across town that eventually leads her to the mysterious Area 50. I’ll give Covert Genesis credit: It has its hooks in me. I’m interested in Majestic Nights’ story and it does a much better job actually telling its story than Sunset After Dark did. I’m a total sucker for modern day conspiracy theory spy stories, and I feel like Majestic Nights heart is in the right place. I wish the text would scroll slower so I couldn’t miss it, and the game really needs a grammar/spelling clean up, but I can see this working.

Back at this nightclub. Again. Couldn't let that time spent making this map go to waste.

Back at this nightclub. Again. Couldn’t let that time spent making this map go to waste.

What I can’t see working is the gameplay. Still a complete disaster, Covert Genesis manages to be better than Sunset After Dark simply because it gave me more options to avoid the terrible combat. For some awful reason I still couldn’t move while aiming, was still stuck with a cover system that I flat out could not get to work, and still got to laugh at the hilariously bad AI. Unlike the previous episode, Covert Genesis gives me a choice of various melee and ranged weapons to use. Melee combat is just as hilarious bad as the rest of the game and basically boils down to smacking the right trigger and rotating the right stick wildly in the hopes that everyone nearby dies.

Yet what Covert Genesis does improve on is giving me ways to go about my mission. Sunset After Dark had one set path through every scene and it was impossible to fall off that path. Covert Genesis instead has plenty of options and choices. Early in the game I found a bolt cutter that came in handy later on when I was able to just cut through a fence rather than take a long and possibly dangerous way around to my objective. Another level had me trying to sneak my way into an office building, yet when I failed to sweet talk my way in I instead went around the back and found the right equipment to pose as the janitor. One level I could have shot my way through, but I managed to instead find some codes that allowed me to redirect guards and significantly lighten the amount of shooting I had to do. There’s usually something to be gained by doing a little exploration in Covert Genesis.

But your face is on the wall.

But your face is on the wall

Yet while all of this is here, it doesn’t really make Covert Genesis fun. A lot of the talking scenes are basically just running around the environment until I found a highlighted person that I could speak to. There’s nothing to inspect, no hidden things to find, no real point in doing anything besides looking for whatever is highlighted. Also, while I thought it would be a one off problem since Sunset After Dark was a preview episode, Covert Genesis is also extremely short and only clocked in at about a little over an hour for me. Covert Genesis is also glitchy: at one point Callie suddenly floated through a wall and took cover behind it for no real reason. Another time an enemy was able to see me in a shadow area (which should be impossible) and then proceeded to somehow shoot me through a wall. It feels like Covert Genesis needed a little more time debugging.

It’s an improvement. I can give Covert Genesis that, though honestly improving over Sunset After Dark isn’t really hard to do. Will it keep me coming back to Majestic Nights? Well, I already got the season pass, so yeah I guess I’m coming back. Yet the game is still a really tough sell and if the next four episodes come out in this state then I can’t recommend anyone touching Majestic Nights. I’ll at least keep a cautious eye on it though.

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