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Published on September 29th, 2014 | by Chris Scott

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Majestic Nights Preview: Bright Lights and Big Hair

Though I was a teenager of the 90s, the music, movies, and television of the 80s always resonated more with me. Flannel shirts and grunge just never clicked in the same way that Aliens and Guns N’ Roses did. Because of this, I always look forward to new experiences set in or modeled after that earlier decade. And Epiphany Games is promising just such an experience.

Their game Majestic Nights is set to take us back in a Delorean to the 1980’s bright lights and big hair. That said, Epiphany’s version of the 1980s isn’t the same one we remember and hold dearly to our hearts. The game is set in a weird alternate reality where every crazy crackpot conspiracy theory to come out of that decade is actually true. I recently had a chance to sit down with an early build of the game’s first episode, Chapter Zero – Sunset After Dark, to see where Epiphany is taking their title.

Majestic Nights is an isometric action-adventure game where players take control of Cardholder, an intelligence operative working in LA. Cardholder has seemingly gotten himself into some trouble and due to past transgressions: nobody wants anything to do with him. In essence, he is your prototypical 80s action hero.

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After Cardholder is told to clear out of his old office space by his buddy, he heads to his home to find it being torn apart by government types. His need to get into his house and retrieve his stuff allowed the game to lay out its stealth mechanics for me. Without a gun, I had no choice but to sneak in but the game allows for multiple solutions to the stealth puzzle.

My first attempt saw me try to sneak in the front door. I managed to get all the way into Cardholder’s entry way before I was spotted and promptly killed. My second attempt saw me enter Cardholder’s neighbor’s house and try and gain access that way. But, after some poor dialog choices on my part, he wouldn’t help me and I was left trying to go through the front door again, where I was, again, promptly killed. My third attempt had me convince the neighbor to give me my spare key, which I used to enter a side door to the house, retrieve my things and beat a trail out of there.

I hightailed it directly to one of LA’s famous night spots, the Whiskey a Go Go. Here I was tasked with talking to folks, gathering information, and sneaking into a secret base below the club. As you would expect from an 80s-themed production, it was awesomely corny, complete with bright neon, big hair, and great synth music. While there seemed to only be one direct line through this section, the game smartly made it seem like I was in complete control and that my decisions for Cardholder were what was pushing things forward.

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Once in the secret base, the game showcased its combat mechanics, which, like many games involving guns required me to find cover and kill all the bad guys. Each room was something of a puzzle, although like I generally do, I solved these dilemmas by using a weird combo of upfront brute force and running away. I’m sure others will find it a bit more tactical than I did. I should note though that the game boasts full controller support but I had more than one instance where things just didn’t seem to register properly. That might be chalked up as pre-release bugs that will be ironed out in the final release.

I hope they do iron those minor bugs out because I really enjoyed the hour or so I played as Cardholder and want to see where the crazy narrative takes him over the seven episodes to come. Majestic Nights hit a lot of the right notes for me and I’ll be checking the game out again when the first episode releases in full sometime in October.

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