One Late Night: Ghosts in the Office Make for Creepy Moments
HorrorScope is a recurring feature exploring the horror genre in gaming and drawing attention to its elements, its tropes, and its lesser-known but still scary titles.
We’ve all been there — you’re alone somewhere, like your home or office, late at night; and then you hear it.
Did that copier just kick on by itself?
No, you think. The copier does that sometimes. It’s a thing copiers do. If it were daytime, you’d never even notice.
But wait, what’s that coming out of the copier? A piece of paper with the word “Hello” on it. Is someone else here? No, the office is empty…or is it?
In One Late Night, as you might have guessed, it isn’t. Alone in your office working late, you find yourself beset by strange occurrences almost immediately. Sounds emanate from places they shouldn’t, furniture moves on its own, and dread builds moment to moment as you move around the tiny office space. What threatens you isn’t clear, but it is a threat, and the only way to deal with it is to discover what’s going on by searching out clues.
It feels not unlike a lot of the Slenderman-based fare we’ve been seeing coming out of the indie horror scene this year, but with a greater emphasis on elements like hiding and utilizing tools, similar to Amnesia: The Dark Descent. One Late Night requires you to figure things out in order to progress the game and the scares forward, and that means keeping your wits about you even as the weirdness seems to rise.
For example, the game starts with the player hopping up to head for some coffee in the office kitchen. Upon returning, there’s a strange message on the computer screen you just left. Hop up again to find the copier producing those strange “Hello?” messages; round the corner, and the bathroom door is open. Investigate the bathroom and you’ll find a key to a locked office inside one of the toilets.
In terms of driving you forward and providing game mechanics, One Late Night is coy to an almost devilish degree. For example, you’ll get a small bit of internal monologue explaining that the locked office belonged to Robert, who hasn’t been to work in a while. Spend some time messing with your computer, using DOS-like commands to navigate, and you might discover Robert’s password, which he asked the IT department to reset for him. You might also run down his latest employee evaluation to get some more details.
Finding those hints — which are buried under a mountain of useless, office-like documents and information that effectively hide them — is tough, but rewarding. I spent much of my time at One Late Night’s outset navigating the computer and seeing what I could drudge out of it. I also found myself lost in the early going because there really are so few clues as to where to head next; this is a game that requires some thinking, and that may well frustrate players.