“Birthday of Midnight” is a unique mixture of a precision platformer and a mini-golf game. The game, developed by Petite Games, is the most recent entry in the “Midnight” series, which includes “Midnight”, “Midnight Deluxe” and “36 Fragments of Midnight.” The player takes the reins of the titular Midnight, a little pillow-like fairy celebrating his birthday with his family. Midway through the festivities, the earth opens up and pulls him down, leaving little Midnight with no choice but to make his way through a series of deadly obstacles.
There’s not really much in the way of storytelling in the game, with all the information above comes from the opening cutscene. Throughout the game you’ll see security cameras and the message, “they’re watching us,” but no context is given for those. The game primarily consists of flinging Midnight’s square body through the map till you reach the exit. Along the way you’ll need to manoeuvre around ever increasing traps and try to survive.
The only way to move yourself is to aim with the left analogue stick and fire with the X button. The stick can also be used to control the amount of power you’ll put into throwing the little fairy. The basic idea behind the controls are fine, but in actual execution, they leave something to be desired. Aiming properly and controlling power output is a chore, with the indicator jittering back and forth.
It makes anything requiring precision feel like an impossible challenge, especially in some of the later levels. The inability to aim and fire in a consistent manner often lead to it feeling like it’s down to luck whether you manage to get by certain sections. The actual physics of the game are a bit iffy as well. Trying to bounce midnight off a wall can be a gamble, because while nine out of ten time’s it will go as planned, every now and again he’ll bounce into oblivion. This may not seem like a lot, but when you’re potentially going through a level dozens of times, it can be a huge bummer to have a good run killed like this.
Midnight also slides a but more than was necessary. Trying to control the amount of power you put in a put is hard enough, but even when you manage to only go in at about a fourth of your total strength, he’ll glide right across a platform and into death. Once again, this can be a real buzz kill in the middle of a decent attempt. Running into most of the game’s obstacles will result in an instant death, with the player having to restart from the beginning. Fortunately, going from death to respawn is pretty fast, so deaths aren’t overtly punishing in and of themselves.
The level design itself is generally well done. New mechanics are introduced at a decent pace, and by the end they are mixed in a way to keep things somewhat fresh. At the end of each level you receive a ranking from one to three stars, determined by how many puts it took you to complete it. After a level has been completed for the first time, it can be replayed individually anytime from the main menu. This makes going back and getting a better score significantly more manageable.
Visually the game could have done with a bit more variety. All the levels have the same aesthetic, a blue tinted background, usually some foothills and a motel sign, while all the objects in the foreground are solid black. For gameplay purposes, the latter can actually be a bit annoying, as there are a few times where you can’t tell there’s an obstacle there. The best the game had to offer in terms of art is the opening and ending cutscenes, which are actually very well drawn. Perhaps a similar style being used on the actual level environments would have done wonders.
The game’s sound and music are also a bit on the “meh” side. While the piano tracks in the game are nice, they tend to feel very samey, to the point where at certain parts early on I thought there was only one music track. The sound effects themselves are pretty sparse. You’ll mostly hear explosions and the death effect, but neither of these are memorable. In the latter stages of the game certain sound effects also seemed to cut out as well.
The concept of using a golfing esque mechanic to move in a platformer is an interesting one, and the level design in the game shows that there is potential in it. But the issues with the primary controls stand out a lot, with the game feeling like it would have been better suited for a mouse pad than a controller. Combine this with a mixed presentation, and “Birthday of Midnight” becomes a bit of a hard sell. If you’re a fan of the previous entries, this may be worth picking up, but for those more interested in the gameplay side of things, you may want to look for something else.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PlayStation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Birthday of Midnight Review
Gameplay - 5/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
“Birthday of Midnight” shows a lot of promise, but it falters when it comes to certain parts of its execution. While the lack of variety in its presentation could be overlooked, the issues with the primary movement mechanic significantly hurt the game. If you’re a fan of the series, give this one a look, if not, it’s a much harder sell.
- Solid level design.
- Opening and ending cinematics are very wall drawn.
- Rating system gives incentive to replay levels.
- Putting controls are too jittery.
- Lack of variety in both art and music.
- Sound bugs in the latter part of the game.
- Physics can be iffy, with Midnight being a bit too slippery.