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HOUDINI Magazine


Night Runners - A Racing Game Review

About Night runners

Night Runners is a racing game with a grungy, illegal settings and a grungey vibe to it. It was put together by none other than Planet Jem, who is a single dev. The game has been in active development since 2019 and is still being actively developed.

Early game

The game sets you in Japan, in a safe house right by the C1 highway loop. Someone calls you welcoming you to Japan and gives you enough money to buy a decent car to get you started. As of the prologue, there are only two cars available: The Sannis Livisa 180RS (Nissan Silvia 180SX), or the Sannis Livisa 200RS (Nissan Silvia 200SX). It’s quite a refreshing opening compared to other games like Forza, where they hand you top of the line sports car without having to work for it. Meanwhile, in Night runners you get an absolute piece of trash (until you actually upgrade it).

Once you get your car, you exit the garage and a loan shark will call you, give you a betting loan, and put you in debt. You use this money to place wagers, and you can’t race without placing a wager, which is actually done much better than NFS Unbound, considering that you can reject the base offer and bet higher. Since you’re racing off of a loan, if you win 80% of the rewards go to the loan shark until you pay off the loan. Which to be honest, whether you consider this feature to be a total pain or not, it’s actually a very unique take to adding “risk and reward” to racing.

Now once you get the loan, you head over to Tatsumi PA to start your first race. Once you get there, you can challenge either of the two racers apart of G-Company: Daisuke (the easier one) and Haruto. Once you call them and agree on a wager, you then begin to race. By time you rack up enough cash and REP, you can upgrade your car and challenge faster, higher reward racers. And honestly, the scaling system for each racer is nearly PERFECT! Since as you upgrade your car, their cars get just as fast. For example, if you’re running 400-500hp, Haruto will scale up from 300hp~ to around 400hp as well. Even though this may not sound like much, when the prologue initially released, rubber banding was a massive issue and it had inevitably made me soft lock my save. Other than that, the progression was a total breeze in this stage.

By time you reach late early game (around 5k REP), you get to challenge your first boss, S.K. Which to be quite honest, for a boss he was simply too easy to beat (especially if you’re versing him on the track “Tunnel Rats”), and by time you beat him you’re likely onto 700hp+.


The mid-game usually is after when you beat S.K, and start grinding your way onto gathering 10k REP. The mid-game, I could describe to be more of a “transitional phase” to when you prepare to challenge another crew. And one thing I could definitely praise about this game is that it doesn’t feel to grindy in terms of progression, and it’s quite clear Jem knew what he was doing when designing it. Now by this time, you’ve finished racing Toshi for a while (taking his money), and now you’ve hit 10k REP. At this time, is when you challenge the second boss in the game, Star Tamer. And honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever actually felt anxious about playing a racing game. The wager is HUGE at 4.7m Yen ($31,522.70 USD), and Star Tamer was actually a challenge to beat, taking me a couple of attempts (and a lot of anxiety). And it’s not like a painful challenge, it was genuinely just a fun challenge and highly rewarding when you beat Star Tamer.

When you beat Star Tamer, you have the choice to join G-Company or refuse. Although, I would highly recommend joining if you don’t want to grind all over again.

Late game

This part was rather boring, since it was just a repeat of challenging G-Company, but with different cars and racers. It’s the same process all over again except you beat Endless appeal. Even the boss in this section was easier. Eternal Sun drives a Korschen K6 (Porsche-I-can't-remember-the-name-of), which was slower than Star Tamer’s Sannis Skyina GST-R (Nissan Skyline GTST). Overall, this part was okay to play but after you beat eternal sun, that’s where the prologue ends. After this, there really isn't much to do in the game. The most you can really do after you beat eternal sun is do time trials and buy extra cars.


The customization in this game is a total BLAST, considering every single cosmetic upgrade you put on has some sort of influence on how your car handles and performs. For example, adding a spoiler? Adds weight and increases down force. And for a demo, it’s customization is on par with games like Need for Speed: Underground 2.

The performance for this game is also highly intuitive, as stats like “cooling” and “engine strength” are also thrown in the mix. You won't be able to just build a 1000hp rocket in this game without consequences, as things like your engine overheating and breaking your engine is possible in this game. This adds friction to the gameplay experience, instead of progression being a simple case of unlocking the best gear, you need to think about how it all works together.

Final Verdict

To be quite honest, the game is amazing and has a lot of potential. Although, there still are some setbacks, as the game does begin to get repetitive after a while. The buggy A.I is a big issue if you plan to sink more time into the game, as for example you could get sent to the moon and back by the A.I. Other than that, the customization in the game is purely flawless, and the performance upgrades were handled perfectly. I would definitely highly recommend playing this game if you have the free time.