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Review: These Nights in Cairo (Western PC Otoge)

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O-ho! You thought I only played Japanese games? Wrong!

TITLE: These Nights in Cairo
DEVELOPER: 7DOTS
RELEASE DATE: 15th of October 2017
RATING: 16+ (Mild nudity)
GENRES & THEMES: Western otoge; Historical; Supernatural; Mythology; Egypt; Archeology
PLATFORM: PC

Language the game was played in for this review:
English

Margaret Dawson is girl dreaming to become full-fledged archaeologist. Together with her father she departs to the excavations of mysterious tomb in Egypt, but there she faces some oddities.
The director of the museum plainly hides something, the father's friend tries to force them leave the excavations, and Margaret realizes that something unusual is about to happen. Soon after the girl gets in deadly swing of things...
Will she be able to deal with the threats she and the world are now facing, and while at it to date with one of the guys?
Or, maybe Margaret will choose to take the villain's side?

Source: Steam
A young english girl in Cairo obsessed with ancient Egypt relies on the help of a sexy hunk and a mysterious desert man to defeat an evil immortal ancient Egyptian who's trying destroy the world as they know it!! Have you played The Mummy yet?! *cough* I mean, These Night's in Cairo?!
Really though, if you want a more elaborate version of this story just watch The Mummy. The old one of course, not the new one (ew).

Also, once again as with the last review for a Western otoge I made, this game is too short for me to write a full-fledged post, so I'll be skipping a few of my usual sections and condensing my thoughts.


The Story & Writing

These Nights in Cairo is a very short (probably just under 7 hours if you want all the achievements?) Russian visual novel that was just recently translated into English and made available through steam. Now I don't play many Western VNs, but this game is only 8€ and is currently 30% off. Also, Egyptian setting with a female scholar MC? Oh yeah, I'm on.
Despite my earlier Mummy joke, this game is original and interesting in it's own unique way. The baseline is that Margaret's family is struggling from a debt her brother has accumulated, so she's being married off to some rich man she doesn't care for. Thus throughout the game she struggles to persuade her father that her greatest passion is archaeology, not sitting around sipping tea in London. This is the main objective of the storyline (as well as romancing the shredded men here to swoop her off her feet, eyyy), and it's honestly pretty engaging.
Essentially you can divide your choices in two:
  • Choices that influence the relationship between Margaret and her father
  • Choices that influence the relationship between Margaret and the eligible bachelors
Depending on what combination of options you go for you unlock a whole array of different good and bad endings that are actually decently interesting. Plus the path to romancing each hunk isn't a cryptic road of incomprehensible clues: it's pretty straightforward, which means the options you have to pick are obvious. Once you've played through twice, figuring out what you have to do to get the other achievements isn't hard.

Also, this game has sexy scenes. Yes, you heard that right. Censured R16 sexy scenes, but sexy scenes nonetheless! And the men have nipples!!!!!!
GOD BLESS, WHAT YEAR IS IT?!!

However, I advise not to expect too much story-wise from this game. The romance feels rather forced at times, and the mystery itself is pretty lame. Most of the time it's just Margaret going "DAMN" or doing something stupid and thinking "lol that actually worked?" so don't walk in thinking you'll be reading the next nobel prize in literature.
The writing has also a severe case of telling rather than showing. Rather than showing us the time Margaret spends with the guys deepening her relationship with them, it's brushed over with quick explanatory narrations... which is why a lot of the time the romance comes off as forced. The other major-ish issue I had with the writing is that it sometimes feels...awkward. I snooped around the Steam reviews after finishing the game, and it turns out I'm not the only one who's picked up on this. Don't get me wrong, syntactically and grammatically speaking everything was fine, but sometimes sentences felt...weird? Overly complicated and long? There was just something about them that felt off. There were some poor word choices here and there, but all in all it isn't so pronounced that you'd wonder if it was written by a non-native speaker --- it's perfectly legible, and unless you're a fussy linguist I doubt it'll harm your playing experience. As a translator I'm tempted to say the translator is inexperienced and is most likely following the original Russian too closely, rather than rearranging information in a way that comes off more smoothly in English, but I can't speak or read Russian... so it's not my place to judge.

There's no particular playing order I recommend, so go wild and choose husbando at will! However the order in which route options appear is Duncan → Amin → Ramessu, so perhaps that's the easiest order to follow?


The Character Routes

Duncan McKenzie is the sexy hunk accompanying Margaret and her father on their mission. He's friendly and outgoing, speaks Arabic, and seems pretty reliable. In other words, he's got all the boxes ticked to become a husbando, hurhurhur.
Given that Duncan is the first hunk you're introduced to and he spends the most time with Margaret, his content is the easiest to dig and accept. I found his steamy scene with Margaret a bit out of the blue and boom-in-your-face, but he reminded me of O'Connell from The Mummy and lol who doesn't love a reckless adventurer?
He comes off as a bit overprotective and overly mysterious in the other routes, but all in all I think Duncan's route is my favourite in the game. He's also the guy who most evidently cares about Margaret.

Amin is the mysterious stranger in the desert that comes and goes like the wind just to drop in unintelligible warnings. He tries to stop Margaret's father from getting involved in the excavation, but unfortunately he's not particularly persuasive.
This dude is the quiet, calm type. He basically acts as Duncan's antithesis, and Margaret spends most of both their routes comparing them and weighing their merits. I find his happy ending to be the sweetest and his route to be the softest, but... I didn't really care about him? Like, there isn't any real conflict to his character? I guess you could say the same about Duncan to a certain extent, but at least in Duncan's route Margaret struggles back and forth with the idea that she's letting herself be swayed by someone's she's just met.
In the end, all my brain could conjure when I finished Amin's route was "meh."

There's no other way to put this, so I'll just come clean: Ramessu is the bad guy of the game, which automatically bumps his route up a flight in my investment-o-meter. In case you haven't caught with the program, I'm a sucker for enemies-to-lovers routes.
Ramessu's route is probably the most interesting of the three by virtue of Margaret actually having to struggle to take sides. It's engaging and the best part of the game, but unfortunately if we're going by the idea that Margaret's freedom and break from society norms are the objective of the game, then I'd classify all his endings as bad, bader, and TERRIBLE. Yes, he's handsome and super fit and he sort of falls for Margaret? Kind of? But he's still an absolute dickhead. It feels like Margaret leaves with him to escape rather than becase she loves him, truth be told.
I really wanted to like his route, but hated even the best of his endings :(


The System & Artwork

This is probably the most attractive aspect of the game: the artwork. It's absolutely beautiful, and though I sometimes found the camel-like long eyelashes the characters had a bit disturbing, I can't deny that all the character sprites were beautifully drawn. Heck, they have a few different costumes to show, and even Margaret has a character sprite too! All goody-good stuff. If I were to pit-pick, my only negative point is that Duncan's CG persona looked a bit different from his sprite design, but that's a minor issue comparatively speaking.
The system is also very easy to navigate and very clean. It's a pity there was no log function and that you couldn't hide the textbox to better appreciate the artwork, but eh, I'm not too bothered about it. You can also listen to the individual BGM pieces through a function in the main menu, and though the soundtrack is neither here nor there on the spectacular/rubbish scale, it was nice to see that they'd added this function.
Honestly, my biggest disappointment was actually the fat that this game wasn't voiced. I've played voiceless VNs before, but I rarely find myself wishing they'd been voiced (in English). So props to the developers for managing to develop a game good enough to get that out of me!


Conclusions

I know I said the game's story is bollocks (because really... it is. just watch The Mummy instead), but given the length of this game I find that it isn't something that bothered me too much. More than the actual romance I found Margaret's struggle to gain her father's approval a lot more interesting. I admittedly walked in expecting something more along the lines of an Indiana Jones adventure, but the game still delivered. All in all, if you enjoy otome games and don't want to get dragged into a too-elaborate 50 hour-long game, you could do worse than pick up These Nights in Cairo.

The Good

  • Short and enjoyable
  • Plenty of ending variations that are fun to unblock
  • Answers aren't hard to figure out
  • Beautiful artwork
  • It's in English!!
  • EGYPT!!!!!!!!!! (((o(*゚▽゚*)o)))

The Bad

  • Romance can sometimes feel forced
  • Lame and undeveloped end-of-the-world story
  • The English translation can sometimes feel unnatural
  • No voices :(


FINAL VERDICT!

Give it a go(?)

What I wouldn't give for an otoge set in ancient Egypt...

Arabian niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiights ♫♪

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Posted on: 24/01/2018



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