If you've ever waited for the last minute to buy a gift for someone, you know it can be a bit of a stressful situation. Trying to find that absolutely perfect item while running out of time to do so can be a bad sign. Dépanneur Nocturne emulates this experience, by having you shopping at the only place left open on the way home. Can you find the perfect gift for your love?
The story really is that simple. It's 10:50 pm, you're on your way home, and you need to get your significant other a special gift before you get there. There is exactly one place left open, and it's the titular Dépanneur Nocturne. So you dip inside, for that gift. You can't leave until you've found it, and pretty quickly you realize this store is just as weird as you'd expect. There's a good chance the food is haunted, the owner is a witch, and the cat teleports. The perfect place for a gift.
It only took me about half an hour to finish Dépanneur Nocturne's story, and I could see dropping another hour into the game if I wanted to find all of its weird secrets. However, just because it's short doesn't mean there isn't a lot to love. The store you explore is stock full of weird items, each of which seems to have some bizarre history behind it. Why are there tons of the same DVD? Is the turnip in the back really possessed by a spirit? What's behind the door in the back of the fridge? I loved exploring the place, and I couldn't wait to see what each new interaction would bring.
Often it was humor. There's only really a trio of characters, and the quirky store owner does most of the heavy lifting interaction-wise. She has a great personality, with a large number of quips and descriptive lines for all of the little actions you can take. Actually drinking the coffee and eating the tarts, or dropping everything you find on the floor instead of putting it back, will make her give plenty of different reactions. Before long I found myself putting everything back as best as I could just so I didn't have to worry about ending up in the dreaded black book of cursed customers.
Much of the store's personality also comes from how it looks. Dépanneur Nocturne has a clean art style, one that easily drew me into its world. There's plenty of great little details that you can find, such as a broken ATM with a screen that displays randomized procedurally generated patterns, unique advertisements for things happening around town, and pictures of the owner's weirdly awesome family. There's no voice acting, but it was cool that the game could let you switch between English and French at any time without diving into the options menu. It's the kind of store I would love to lose a bit of time here and there.
That's really the point of Dépanneur Nocturne, a quiet wholesome game that you can relax into. It's a good way to kill an evening, and I can easily see myself returning to the store just to pick up more weird gifts to see the reactions to. Also, no matter what way I look at the game I feel like there's always one more secret out of my view, and that's a great way to keep me hooked as well.
TechRaptor played Dépanneur Nocturne on PC using a copy purchased by the player.