This point-and-click mystery game feels like Little Red Riding Hood's somber older sibling, and it hooked me in the first five minutes

The Night Is Grey - Indie Spotlight
(Image credit: Whalestork Interactive)

Only three chapters into The Night is Grey, I'm already sensing heartbreak ahead. Whalestork Interactive's point-and-click narrative mystery feels eerie and atmospheric from the start, its layered hand-drawn backgrounds lending it a storybook aesthetic that entrances me instantly. No voiced dialog clutters these moonlit riverside environs, a twinkling music score my only guide as I hold the space bar to reveal points of interest ahead. With wolves snarling softly across the rickety bridge, blocking me from my destination, there is no choice but to wander into the yawning darkness of the woods instead.

The more I explore everything The Night is Grey has to offer in all its interactive glory, the more certain I am that this fairytale will not have a happily ever after. The reason? It almost feels like a video game adaptation of a children's story as penned by a 17th century Frenchmen – yet even more ominous than its already creepy origins. 

Warning: Discussion of sensitive themes ahead, including domestic abuse

What big eyes you have 

The Night Is Grey

(Image credit: Whalestork Interactive)

I don't know if The Night is Grey is meant to remind me of Charles Perrault's Little Red Riding Hood, but it definitely does. A tale of wolves, a lost little girl, and getting even more lost on the way to grandmother's house? The basic plot points are there, but certain sobering twists to the formula are what makes The Night is Grey feel fresh, unnerving, and quietly bleak.

Let's start at the beginning. After fleeing from a pack of wolves, protagonist Graham finds an isolated cabin nestled deep within the woods. There, he meets a little girl named Hannah. Her mother has not been home for a few days, so instead of leaving the child to her loneliness, Graham offers to take her to her grandparents' house in the village across the forest. At first, Hannah thinks Graham is some sort of monster, pointing out his thick fur (a beard) and shining large eyes (his glasses) as evidence. The player is then instructed to fix a nearby generator and restore light to the cabin, the first of many found-item puzzles that will form the basis of our core gameplay going forward. Graham thereby earns Hannah's trust, and the two venture forth.

With the boat broken and wolves still slinking about the bridge, the task then turns to finding an alternative route. As I start up a conversation with little Hannah, though, the things she tells me about her mother raise alarm bells. 

The Night Is Grey

(Image credit: Whalestork Interactive)

The Night is Grey doesn't cease to surprise and charm in equal measures.

Hannah alludes to being cooped up at home most of the time due to an illness she supposedly suffers from, as her mother fears the "poison" of others might exacerbate her heart condition if she attends school. All the doors are locked inside Hannah's home, except for the front door. There are no toys to be found, no food aside from a burnt stew bubbling over the fireplace, and the supposedly "old and dirty" crayons that Hannah's mother threw away are recovered from the trash can in pristine condition. Something isn't adding up, and my stomach sinks as I piece together that Hannah is most likely the victim of multiple forms of child abuse.

The Night is Grey confronts these themes head-on, but never makes them feel offensively melodramatic or ham-fisted in their allusions. Hannah has the bright candor of childhood innocence, all too happy to tell Graham all about her mommy, her life, and any item the player sees fit to drag over her character model to receive her honest opinion of. The bond between the two characters forms slowly but tangibly, the languid pace of the game itself feeding into Graham's gradual feelings of fatherly affection for his newfound charge.

From here on out, The Night is Grey doesn't cease to surprise and charm in equal measures. Dark themes entwine fluidly with the rich sense of atmosphere, the world's lore fleshed out inch by mystifying inch as you investigate the detritus of this eerie place and try in vain to soothe Hannah's worries. I don't want to spoil much more than this, because truth be told, this is one of the most spellbinding and unique indie games I have had the pleasure to experience in months. Just beware of the big bad wolves, and you'll be fine – for now.

Check out the litany of upcoming indie games slated to launch in 2024 and beyond.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.