I say this far too often, I know, but a great puzzle game knows that both innovation and depth are two key factors for success. On the flip-side, it can be somewhat disconcerting when a puzzle game fails to evolve past its initial formula and core design. Sadly, Midnight Deluxe falls victim to the latter. Whilst it’s not a bad game per se, it’s not particularly a good one. Players take on the role of the titular Midnight; a square-shaped fairy that you must guide through a series of single-screen locations in order to reach the safety zone of each.
The game’s simplistic concept together with its easy-to-understand controls, make for a very accessible experience. Players don’t have any direct control over Midnight’s movement, instead, you’ll hold down the A button and aim the left stick. Once you release the A button, Midnight will be shot into the desired direction – force dependent. The game does a good job at feeding you into the basics of play, with a solid difficulty curve to lean on throughout the game’s first few levels. You could almost say that Midnight Deluxe is similar to a golf game.
Especially when we take the star system into account. Each level will reward you with up to a total of three stars, with more stars rewarded for completing each level in as few shots as possible; typically rewarding three stars for completion in one or two shots. Starting out, you’ll simply need to blast Midnight into the safety zone without much standing between that and your spawn point. However, before long, you’ll have the likes of lasers, guillotine, spikes and saws to contend with. Midnight dies in one hit, so accuracy is everything here.
Failure will likely come often, but thankfully, getting back in the game takes little more than a few seconds. There’s also a quick restart button that you can hit at any time to refresh the level. There’s a wide selection of levels to work through, each progressively more difficult than the last. That said, the real difficulty in Midnight Deluxe is hitting that fabled three star rank across all levels. Though in all fairness, it’s not too hard to run through the entirety of the game (and mop up all of the achievements) if you’re aiming for anything less than that.
For the most part, the game plays well. There’s some issues with its handling mind, though this mostly falls to sussing out the trajectory you need to take, leading to a whole load of trial and error. The game never really demands too much thought or planning, but perseverance instead. Levels later in become less about getting from A to B, and more about getting the perfect aim to make it through a strictly tight opening. There’s some interesting aspects thrown into the mix too, which tends to rely on timing to get through.
This can be anything from shooting through a group of rotating saws, to working Midnight through some slot-esque moving blocks, the latter making for some chance-based moments. It’s worth noting that physics play a major role here. Midnight, as alluded to above, is a square. Environmental objects are particularly shaped; often slanted or come with pointed tips. You’ll use these to your advantage, either by bouncing Midnight off them to land beneath, by using them to correctly align Midnight for another jump, and so forth.
Nevertheless, and despite its fair level diversity, the foundation of play just doesn’t evolve enough. This eventually makes for a very repetitive puzzler, being that you’re just doing the same thing, time and time again, several times over. It would have been nice to see some more gameplay mechanics put into play, rather than simply relying on its level design, but when all is said done, it’s a passable experience overall. It’s certainly more fun in short bursts, though when you’re an hour in – with all achievements unlocked – it wears thin.
To the game’s credit, the soundtrack does a good job at setting the mood quite nicely. It sits well with the game’s silhouette-like visual design. I wont go so far as to saying that they’re impressive, not even close, but there’s enough detail and differentiation throughout the adventure to warrant a pass. If you on the market for a puzzle game that doesn’t prove to be too taxing, or one that’s accessible and easy to approach, Midnight Deluxe will probably suffice. Just don’t expect to come into this game and find much past its core structure.
Midnight Deluxe’s reliance on its singular mechanic only makes for a repetitive experience overall. The game is too laid back for its own good, so much so that what little creativity it offers is often lost in the midst of its simplicity. That said, there’s certainly some fleeting fun to be had here and I do credit the game for its decent visual and audio design. All in all, Midnight Deluxe is passable, at best.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.