A Night At The Watermill Review – Long Story Short

What immediately intrigued me about Neon Tales’ thriller, A Night At The Watermill, is that it’s advertised as beingonly  45 minutes to an hour long. This is always a risky move for games, as it more often than not leaves more to be desired. On rare occasions, though, a short run time can be just enough for a game. A Night at the Watermill, unfortunately, isn’t one of these. Despite this, I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a bad thing because A Night at the Watermill’s biggest flaw is that I did really want to play more.

A Night at the Watermill is an inventory puzzle point-and-click adventure game. We wake up in a shack of some kind, the door is locked with a coded padlock and we have no recollection of who we are or how we got there. Our main objective in A Night at the Watermill is to find our way out of the shack using the items we can find in the room.

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In its hour run-time, A Night at the Watermill aims to answer two questions: who are we and how did we get here?

The first thing that hit me about A Night at the Watermill is how stunning it looks. It has a hand drawn comic book-style aesthetic which uses cool, moody tones to set the scene. This is partnered with chill music for general exploration, but can turn eerie at the right moments. It’s UI is easy to navigate and it didn’t fall victim to the “pixel-hunting” problem that many point-and-click games suffer from by allowing the player to highlight any interactable objects in the room.

The escape room-style puzzles in A Night at the Watermill are also intriguing and had me scratching my head on a few occasions. The gameplay mainly involves searching the room, picking up objects and then using these objects to find your way out of the shack. I think the puzzles are well designed which only further pushed my want to play more of the game.

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Things aren’t as they seem…

The story of A Night at the Watermill has enough enigma to remain interesting throughout the hour-long playthrough. I was even surprised to find a neat little twist in there despite the short run length. Despite this, I do still feel like the game would have benefitted from an extra hour or so to add more backstory to cover one or two unanswered questions that I still had at the end.

As an adventure game, A Night at the Watermill does have dialogue options and action choices which are supposed to determine the ending of the game. There are three endings in total: a good ending, a neutral ending, and a bad ending. I did find that the desired ending was very easy to achieve and that this had little to do with the dialogue and action choices up until a certain point in the game. It seems that your dialogue choices have little to no impact on the conversations and, despite the choice you make earlier on, the game blatantly hands you a decision at the end regardless of what you’ve already chosen. On top of this, due to the game’s length, the ending you achieve doesn’t exactly feel like an accomplishment.

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Is this our captor, or another victim?

A Night at the Watermill is a well-crafted point-and-click puzzle game, but suffers from its short run length which also impacts the effectiveness of its adventure elements. Its hour-long playtime leaves much to be desired and I do think it could have done with being an hour or two longer.

Jess played A Night at the Watermill on PC with a review code.

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