Published on March 13th, 2018 | by Lee Davies
Review: Midnight Deluxe (Switch eShop)
Format reviewed: Switch eShop
Other formats available: PSVita, PS4
Developer: Petite Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Website: Official Website
In this golf-like game with a perpetual darkness setting, your task is to guide a little square-shaped fairy, named Midnight.
Use your controller or touch-screen controls, to launch Midnight into the night sky, but watch out!
The world of Midnight is a dangerous one thanks to the likes of spikes, circular saws and plenty of other dangerous objects and even if you do manage to get Midnight into the safe zone, to advance to the next level, there’s the added challenge of trying to complete each level in the least amount of shots as possible to get all three Stars.
That’s it. That’s all you need to know about this game, review over and done with. Well, there’s not much more to say where your sole objective is to press A, then point in a certain direction with the Analogue Stick that demarcates Midnight’s trajectory and power, and release A to fling through the air toward your glowing target. Pointing in the direction you want to go is vital, this is not Angry Birds where you are required to pull back and let go like a catapult. Which is shame, as when using your finger on the touchscreen you don’t really want to be obscuring any of the aiming direction with your finger, but that’s just what happens. Anyway, the game’s rules are effectively displayed during the first level in a handy informative on-screen text blurb, and the similarity to golf played within a 2D plain is palpable.
Each of the 70 levels look great with a minimalist play on nighttime shadows with Midnight itself a glowing white cube of delight. Simplicity in design allows Midnight Deluxe to run incredibly smoothly in Docked or Undocked configuration. Every level plays in the same way, but the further you progress throughout the campaign, more different types of obstacles and challenges are placed in your way, from seesaws, spring blocks, walls of destructible blocks, lasers, switches, grinding circular saws, rolling saws chasing you to hurry you through a level, and the edge of the screen. That’s right, touch the edge of the screen, whether top or sides and a restart of the level is required. Precision is required to master the later levels.
Therefore, Midnight Deluxe lives or dies by its control scheme, which I’ve touched upon. And, unfortunately it dies in bouts of fiery anger. The Analogue pointing controls are far too fiddly and twitchy for their own good. It’s virtually impossible to get the right amount of power and trajectory for what is required, and the only way through some challenges is to repeat, and repeat, and repeat again. The subtlety required to 3-star the later levels is astounding, and after tens of attempts, you’ll surely stick one of them by sheer laws of statistics and blind luck. With no reference to any previous shot’s direction and power, the difference between a shot too hard and too soft is so absurdly minuscule that it becomes a laughable proposition to determine such a difference. There seems a point along the line of power, where the strength of the shot becomes less linear and more logarithmic. As General Pepper was want to say, “Good Luck”, and by hell are you going to need it here.
The touch screen controls work a little better, but the same rules apply to the power of the shot. It’s impossible to gauge what is going to occur until Midnight goes flying off on its celestial journey, one pixel too much or too little. Fortunately, Midnight Deluxe allows an extremely quick method of replaying levels. Pressing X at any time instantly puts you back to beginning of that level. This button is very well needed, especially on some of the more challenging levels later on in the game.
If you do manage to successfully complete a level you’ll be taken to the Star Rating screen which highlights your reward for how many shots you took to sink Midnight into the glowing hole. Strangely enough, the game doesn’t tell you how many shots you actually numerically took, it just gives stars based on ranges, e.g. 1 star for 5+ shots, 2 stars for 2-4 shots, and 3 stars for a hole-in-one. Did I 2-star this level with 3 or 4 shots? It doesn’t seem to matter to Midnight, only the Stars matter. There’s no shot counter during or after the levels, nor a star rating shot requirement during the level. So, the player is forced to count their shots and remember, and then only after the level concludes are you told of the requirement to 3-star that level. Then, there’s no way to know if you’ve bettered your previous score.
You can’t even play a new level without finishing the one before it, it’s an extremely linear progression. Getting all bonus stars in a level amounts to nothing but bragging rights. No online leaderboards to share your achievements, but you could show the people nearest and dearest to you, if they care.
Midnight Deluxe suffers from a lot of what plagues other low budget eShop releases, and that is a lack of polish. The most telling things are game freezes within a level, that require a complete reboot of the game, and the little annoyances, that could easily be ironed out, of Menu navigation being wonky. For example, in the Level Select screen, you can’t press the B button to quickly return to the Main Menu. Instead you’re forced to scroll through all the levels to get back to the onscreen icon to click to go back. The annoyances in the Menu selection can be overcome with use of the touchscreen, as full utilization is consistent in-game and in-menus. However, this is only ever an option for Handheld play.
Music is based around the virtues of the piano, with such quintessential chill-out classics as Satie’s 3 Gymnopedics #1: Lent Et Douloureaux providing the backdrop for the Main Menu screen. It sets the tone, and in-game music is suitably similar rotating through its repertoire every time a level is accessed, or replayed. Sound effects are the bare minimum fare of hitting and dying sounds. After completing a level, the star system screen plays an elegant piano melody whilst showing your achievement, but then falls strangely silent, very abruptly during the resonance of the last chord. And, the following silence is massively amplified due to the nature of the melody’s finale.
Too frustrating with its unforgiving direction and power detection system, and this is not something you can learn due to the lack of previous input viewings. Each new level seems like a random trial and error encounter until luck wins out and Midnight reaches its goal. Other little glitches throughout mar an already hair-pulling experience. Hard to recommend, so I won’t.
Midnight Deluxe (Switch eShop)
Summary: Just like the piece of piano music played whilst giving you stars, Midnight Deluxe starts well-meaning enough with an intriguing play-style, but falls silent when game freezes and unforgiving trajectory/power controls spoil all fun and replace it with frustrating blind repetition for the player to endure.