Picture the scene, it’s your birthday, you are sitting at home with your parents enjoying a lovely celebratory tea, and suddenly the earth splits open. You fall through the gap and start an adventure to make your way through the darkness and back to where you belong. This happens to our square hero “Midnight”. Birthday of Midnight has been developed by Petite Games and published by Ratalaika Games. It’s a platform puzzle title with a golf style movement twist.
You are asked to move “Midnight” from his start location to the beacon of light that is shining from the floor. You are not free to move in the traditional sense, instead, you must set your trajectory path by lining up an arrow and holding down the A button to decide the level of power you place into each move. This golf style swing will have you leaping, flying, and bouncing around each level. At the start, each stage is simple; there are no obstacles to overcome, and little danger to be faced. As you progress, the difficulty increases, and you will have to navigate; spikes, fire, teleporters, crushing cogs and more.
The game begins with a lovely cinematic cut scene that sets the tone. From here you can choose the option to play, or select any levels you have unlocked. The puzzles are broken down into categories of; easy, medium, and hard. Each is numbered, and depending on how well you fair, you will receive a rating between 1 and 3 stars. The grading is easy to understand, though you won’t know how to get the maximum score until you finish a level which is a little frustrating. Ultimately, the fewer turns it takes to move “Midnight” to the light beacon, the higher the score you will receive. Sometimes gaining 3 stars can appear impossible, and there were several occasions where I was just glad to pass the stage, and didn’t care about what my score was as it didn’t affect my ability to progress.
I love a good indie title, but even I get to a point where I feel the developers have gotten lazy with their approach to gameplay mechanics and story lines. Luckily, Petite Games have created an interesting, fun and simple concept that keeps you wanting to play. I lost track of the time as I kept wanting to play a level just one more time, forever hoping that I didn’t make the same mistake for the nth time. This basic approach makes this a perfect casual experience, and with 70+ levels to master, it’s ideal to pick up and put down between major titles.
What really surprised me about Birthday of Midnight was the level of quality in both the visual and the audio presentation. Both were very unusual, and of a very high quality for an indie title. They weren’t on par with a AAA game, but it would be unfair to expect that from such a small team and budget. It had a sense of “Ori” about it, and I was impressed with the design variation on each stage.
Playing out on a fixed screen, you can see all the obstacles in front of you with ease. The developers define their ideas with the use of dark and light tones, and incandescent lights gave this title an eerie feeling. It added an ominous undertone which inspired me to want to get “Midnight” out of the darkness and into the light.
The sinister nature doesn’t end with the imagery, it also forms the backbone of the melancholy piano music that accompanies all the action. You know it’s going to be a bit of a sad tale when the game opens with a slow and sombre piano version of the song Happy Birthday on a repeat loop. The music complimented the concept and the gameplay perfectly.
I really enjoyed my time with “Midnight” except for one area that really got on my nerves, and that was the control system. No matter how gentle I was with the analogue stick or the A button, “Midnight” would still shoot off like a rocket. This made the most minor of movement impossible, and most of the time you would die, which would undo any progress made in the stage. What compounded the issue was the inability to move our hero other than to leap in the air. It was infuriating when you landed a millimetre from the hole, and there was no way to tap yourself in. If I could change anything about this game, it would be that you could move on the spot as this would overcome this issue immediately.
With 70+ levels available, 210+ stars to collect, and a relatively simple achievement list to unlock, it would be fair to say that this has some replay value. Like most puzzle/platform titles, though, once you’ve gotten to the end game, there is little to make you want to return. But for the cost of the game, it really is good value for money, and will have you coming back for more (at least until you complete it, that is!)
I installed this with minimal expectation of what I was going to be playing. The game description gave little away, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found the action to be; fun, challenging, and addictive. This was then complimented with simple, yet beautiful graphics, and a sombre and apt audio. This is a great title to have in your collection. If you are looking for an inexpensive, casual indie game, then I can’t help but recommend that you try this. Remember that not all birthdays go to plan, and when you fall into the darkness, head for the light, no matter the risks.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One 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 - 7/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 6/10
User Review( votes)
Remember that not all birthdays go to plan, and when you fall into the darkness, head for the light, no matter the risks.
- Nice use of shade and tone.
- Beautiful, melancholy and sombre audio.
- 70+ levels to play.
- A fair but challenging difficulty curve.
- The controls could be a little more precise and forgiving.
- No nudge facility, meaning all your hard work can be undone.