Night Delivery is one of numerous games that have come to my attention through the VTubing community — this is a game that has been immensely popular among both English-speaking and Japanese VTubers, so I was curious as to whether or not there was something special about it.
It’s also cheap, and I like horror games, so I certainly didn’t begrudge spending two quid of my hard-earned Rice money on picking up a copy so I could wax lyrical about it for you lot. Never say I don’t do anything for you.
Anyway, a little over an hour and a half later, and I’m finished with the game. It’s janky and rough around the edges — I suspect deliberately so to a certain degree, aside from a couple of technical issues we’ll talk about in a moment — but it’s definitely an experience worth having, particularly if you haven’t yet spoiled yourself on it by watching the aforementioned VTuber streams.
So let’s take a closer (and spoiler-free) look at what Night Delivery has to offer.
In Night Delivery, you take on the role of a delivery man who has reached the last stop on his rounds. The sun has already gone down, but he’s still got five packages in the back of his truck to deliver, all of which are addressed to various apartments in the Nakayoshi (“close friends”) apartment complex. Your aim is simple: deliver those five packages, and be on your way. Easy, right?
You take control of our hero from a first-person perspective, and can deliver the five packages in any order. It actually makes no difference whatsoever which order you choose to deliver them in, because the game’s story unfolds in a strictly linear fashion; the only option for making a “choice” of sorts comes right at the end of the game, where you will achieve one of two different endings according to the actions you have taken throughout the rest of the story.
Night Delivery describes itself as a “walking simulator” in that there’s only limited interaction with the environment and no combat — but this isn’t a “walking slowly forwards to sad piano music and poetry” kind of walking simulator. No, this is mostly a game about environmental exploration and traversal; in true horror game tradition, the Nakayoshi apartment complex is inconveniently strewn with all manner of crap that makes getting around rather more frustrating than it perhaps could be — and of course, it’s more than our hero’s job is worth to actually move some of those garbage bags out of the way.
Thus, Night Delivery unfolds in a fairly simple structure: pick up a package, find your way to the apartment it’s addressed to, deliver the package, repeat. For your first couple of deliveries, it’s absolutely that simple — though the manner of the recipients makes it abundantly clear that Nakayoshi is not a particularly apt name for this particular apartment complex. From the third delivery onwards, things start to get a little more complex, as the residents start making requests of you beyond simply delivering their packages.
The horror angle mostly comes from the distinctly unsettling atmosphere to the apartment complex, created through a combination of deliberately low-fidelity PS2-style environments and textures, an optional VHS-style visual filter and some astonishingly good sound design. Excellent use is made of stereo ambience to give you a real feeling of being out after dark in a place where you might not be entirely welcome — and at a number of points through the game, the sound is used to provide you clues as to what you might want to do next if you’re not clear.
There is a surprising, more obviously “horror” component to Night Delivery that comes a little later in the narrative. This section also plays host to Night Delivery’s one and only jump scare, and to be honest feels a little out of place, though it does feature probably the most interesting traversal puzzle in the whole game. For the most part, though, Night Delivery’s horror is purely psychological. It provides an unsettling atmosphere filled with unsettling people — and the deliberate choice to present the characters without voices, facial animations or any kind of body language (except in one particularly memorable instance) just adds to this feeling.
It’s a game where the subtle details count — not only does paying close attention to what’s going on around you afford you the opportunity to unlock the “best” ending, but it also provides a few hints as to what you might expect from the narrative in its latter moments. The way in which certain apartment numbers are used symbolically, in particular, is a nice touch.
My only real beef with the game as a whole is that there are a few aspects that are outright broken. I fully embrace video game jankiness in all its forms so long as it doesn’t interrupt the game flow, but during my time with Night Delivery I not only had a complete freeze-up, I also managed to get myself stuck in the environment while exploring on one occasion.
Both of these incidents necessitated a complete restart of the game — there’s no save system, either automatic or manual, and thus if something goes wrong you have to go all the way from the beginning again. Thankfully, with the game’s bite-size length this isn’t too much of a problem, but for some players it will doubtless be a deal-breaker — plus it compromises that atmosphere that the developers have clearly put so much effort into creating. As a relatively recent digital-only release (it came out in early June), it’ll likely be patched at some point — but at the time of writing do be aware of this.
On the whole, bugs aside, I enjoyed my time with Night Delivery. It provides an interesting and compelling story that keeps you guessing until the end — and, unlike a lot of other indie horror games from the last couple of years, it actually provides a satisfying conclusion to the whole thing rather than just fizzling out ambiguously with an unspoken invitation for you to consider “but what did it MEAN?!”
Those who enjoy PlayStation 2-era horror games in particular will get plenty of enjoyment out of this one. Yes, you’ll be done with it in an hour or less — assuming you don’t have to restart twice like I did — but 1) it’s an hour well spent, and 2) it’s two quid.
Developer Chilla’s Art has made a wide variety of Japanese horror games and is supported by folks on Patreon; if you’d like to join them or just find out more about what they’re up to, click here. Night Delivery is available for Windows PC via Steam.
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