NIGHT/SHADE is an indie 18+ futuristic thriller, boys love visual novel developed by Thrill Switch Games. I played the demo last year during the Kickstarter campaign and I fell in love with the story and characters, which definitely gave me some Dramatical Murder vibes. Follow Sasha, a drug dealer who finds himself in the middle of a power struggle between two dangerous and powerful crime syndicates.
- Drama | Boys Love | Thriller | 18+
- Rating: R18 (explicit, uncensored adult content)
- Available on Steam and itch.io
- Price: $29.99
- 10 – 20 hours of gameplay
- Similar Games: Dramatical Murder | No Thank You!!!
Why would a person take someone’s life? To protect? For Love? When you are backed into a corner and have no way out, what will you do then?
Sobena, 2040, the cultural fusion city of neon lights and echoes of discreet underground clubs. Sasha, a 27 year old drug dealer, has found himself in an aimless cycle of indulgences that he has no intention of addressing. He has become comfortable with his place in this city, unaware of the shifting ground beneath his feet.
When he and his best friend, Mishka, are abruptly caught in the middle of a power struggle between two crime syndicates, Sasha is forced to confront himself and his feelings in order to save those most important to him. The two of the must overcome their immense aversion to change or risk losing everything.Official Synopsis
Step into the shoes of 27 year old drug dealer, Sasha, who contrary to his choice in career has been living a pretty lowkey life in the neon lit city of Sobena—eating burgers at the local dive, hanging in his apartment playing video games with his bestie Mishka, hitting up the local clubs for a night out on the town. But, unbeknownst to Sasha, the city is on the verge of a huge upheaval and he and his friends will be caught in the crosshairs.
While making a quick drug run for his boss, Sasha gets his hand on a new drug that threatens to overthrow the delicate balance between two powerful crime syndicates and his best friend Mishka (who moonlights as an assassin for hire) is taken hostage by the Ecto syndicate. With nowhere to turn, Sasha finds himself relying on Strexa, the public face of another syndicate to find Mishka. Along the way Sasha learns that he is just a small cog in the dangerous machinations of Sobena’s underworld and he will have to decide whether he is ready to risk everything to save not just his friend, but change the fate of the entire city.
Characters of NIGHT/SHADE
In the game, only Mishka and Dima are romanceable. Each route has several endings—and yes, there are a few endings where you or others die bloody; so read the content warnings. In addition to the LIs, NIGHT/SHADE does feature a diverse, LGBTQ+ cast of characters that Sasha can get to know and befriend.
NIGHT/SHADE, is a story about facing and overcoming the toxicity within interpersonal relationships as well as within oneself. This character driven plot explores the complexities of love and loss in the form of a romantic thriller. With the colorful aesthetic of synth-wave and the nightlife of a near futuristic city, NIGHT/SHADE will take you on a turbulent, passionate experience unlike any other.
I had the chance to play an early demo last year during the Kickstarter campaign and I immediately fell in love for the whole neon lights and 80’s aesthetic of the game, which definitely has some similarities to Dramatical Murder—a futuristic setting (a fusion city run by underground syndicates), a powerful company that has its hand in shadier enterprises, and Sasha especially gives me diet Aoba vibes (also Mishka is absolutely Kojaku). Having played DMMD, it’s clear that the Thrill Switch at the very least drew inspiration from Nitro+ when creating NIGHT/SHADE. But that said I am happy to say that the devs did do their own thing and NIGHT/SHADE quickly solidifies itself as its own unique experience.
Set in the futuristic city of Sobena, NIGHT/SHADE features a diverse cast of characters (and y’all know I live for melanin in my games), each with their own unique motivations and desires. While the story follows Sasha, there are occasional POV switches that give players insight into the thoughts of other characters and events that Sasha is not present for—delving into the interconnected stories and of the entire cast. NIGHT/SHADE isn’t just Sasha’s story, but everyone’s story. While playing I found myself getting really invested in each of the characters: the history between Dima and Roman, Ada and his one-sided love for Roman, hell, I wanted a chance with Vadim, but he’s already taken and his relationship with Pav is so cute. And don’t get me started on Natali and Indigo, two badass women holding their own in what easily could have been another BL sausage fest.
Of the two LIs, Mishka feels more like the “canon” LI, given his relationship/history with Sasha, usually the friends to lovers romance is pretty played out, but I like that the writers take their time fleshing out the complexities of their relationship early on (they’re somewhere between friends with benefits and besties). So when Mishka gets kidnapped I really felt Sasha’s loss and desperation to get him back. On the flip side, Dima’s route felt a bit lacking in comparison, don’t get me wrong he’s a great character and I like the progression between him and Sasha, but it lacked that emotional pull to really sell me on the relationship. I kinda kept hoping Dima and Roman would “work things out” given their past relationship (but yeah, that’s never gonna happen). Also, can I say I love Sasha?! He is street smart, snarky (when he needs to be) and just an all around chill dude. He isn’t perfect, he makes mistakes, but when it counts he goes hard for his friends. Sasha isn’t afraid of having fun (read: having sex) and anyone who would prefer a greasy burger over a salad is A-OK in my book!
NIGHT/SHADE is an 18+ BL game, so there are a handful of explicit, UNCENSORED sex scenes between Sasha and both Mishka and Dima (separately, sadly no poly options). I do enjoy being able to see peens on full display without any pesky censorship, however not everyone does so if you’re not cool with the hanky panky, NIGHT/SHADE does have an option to turn off the explicit content that skips over the sex scenes without effecting the story. I used the the SFW filter to play the game on Twitch and it leaves all the choices intact it just skips over the sexy bits (I of course turned the filter off when I played on my own). One shortcoming is that you turn on the filter at the start of the game and if you choose to go that route, you cannot change it during your current playthrough, you’ll have to start a new game if you change your mind.
For their first game, Thrill Switch managed to pack in a lot of great features! The game features partial English voice acting which is pretty well done overall (there were a few instances where the voiced phrases didn’t match the tone of the scene, but those were few and far between). There’s also a cool phone feature that you can use to message other characters and make choices to respond conversations (the phone icon actually rings when you get a call or a message). The art is really nice, with bright distinctive character designs and detailed backgrounds that really help give the world a lived in feel. There’s also this really cool animated sequence at the beginning that is a fun and distinctive way to kick off the game. While Sobena’s location isn’t explicitly stated it’s implied to be Russia or at the very least Eastern Europe—so occasionally the characters will use Russian words and phrases, thankfully there is a glossary feature built in that gives a definition for certain words when you hover your mouse over them (so you don’t have to constantly stop to toggle between reading the story and a static glossary).
The Verdict – Is NIGHT/SHADE Worth Playing?
Heck yeah! From the moment I started playing it I couldn’t put it down! NIGHT/SHADE is an impressive debut visual novel from Thrill Switch. With it’s dynamic cast, colorful synth-wave aesthetic, and thrilling character driven story, NIGHT/SHADE is a must buy! It does touch on some heavy topics and situations that may be a bit uncomfortable (drug use and violence being the biggies), but everything is included for a reason and that the writers aren’t afraid to tell the story they want to tell without sugarcoating anything.
Get to know Thrill Switch Games
- Official Site: nightshadevn.com
- Twitter: @NightShade_VN
- TikTok: @thrillswitchgames
- Instagram: @nightshade_vn
- itch.io Page: thrillswitch.itch.io
- Play the Game: Steam | itch.io
Thank you to Thrill Switch Games for providing me a copy of NIGHT/SHADE for this review.