Try as hard as you like, but some games can be frustrating. Midnight Deluxe tries its very best to not be, throwing virtually everything but the kitchen sink to alleviate your anger; cute graphics, relaxed atmosphere, soft piano music etc. But it doesn’t always work; this is still a frustrating game with a reliance on luck than pure skill.
Midnight Deluxe is the follow-up to 36 Fragments of Midnight and is the fourth in the ‘Midnight’ series, but Deluxe marks the first time it is playable on Xbox One. Midnight is a small square-shaped fairy that players must launch through various levels into the safe zone. If Midnight was a ball and the safe zone a hole we would be calling this a golf game, so for all intents and purposes, this is a golf game.
However, with Midnight being square, this brings a whole new level of difficulty and with it, frustration.
The main problem being that Midnight doesn’t roll like a golf ball would. Having four corners means that Midnight bounces off any surface differently every time, which is where the luck factor comes into play; play a shot one time and have one result, play the same shot another time and achieving a completely different result. In a positive spin, the physic elements work really well because this happens, the minutiae in the change of the shots causes vastly different outcomes. It can still be frustrating though.
This is mainly due to the game not being very difficult in the first instance. Each level has several obstacles to navigate but it is easy to figure out the correct ‘path’. It is the execution that causes the vast amount of retries due to the aforementioned nuances between shots. You need a perfect shot to reach the target, but the game isn’t always perfect in its performance.
Obstacles in the game include saws, spikes and lasers, but there are also ‘friends’ dotted on certain levels. These friends can appear at random times, sometimes just as a bit of a friendly face but can also appear as a hindrance, blocking off your path to the safe zone. Midnight will need to be quick in order to beat them to it.
Your performance is graded by stars; achieve the target low score and you are awarded three stars, the best result. It is usually obvious how many shots are required at the start of the level – though not explicitly stated until you complete it for the first time. Some shot targets can also be more lenient than others; the difficulty spikes in achieving three stars on consecutive levels can be wildly different. There isn’t a gradual difficulty increase like you would expect.
The attempts to quell the frustrations are very appreciated, particularly the piano soundtrack. It can be haunting, calming and therapeutic. It’s very effective when contemplating the most efficient route to the safe zone. But once you have figured that out – and this ties back to the difficulty in execution – you will need frequent retries using the X button. Each retry resets the music though and then starts with another randomly assigned track, so instead of a calming piece of music, you get the same introductions repeated again and again, doing the exact opposite of calming you down.
Another issue are the controls; it’s a very basic game to understand but the controls make it more complicated. It feels like it was originally designed for touch controls and then ported over; flicking Midnight requires holding the A button and using the left stick to choose power and direction, but it doesn’t make sense to hold the A button. It feels surplus, the left thumbstick performs all the actions.
The art style also evokes a haunting yet calming feeling and works well alongside the piano music. The deep black of the levels against the contrast of Midnight, white light emanating from him. The trees swaying gently in the background or a house with a single solitary light on – the intention is clearly there to gently relax you, but the art style is where this is best achieved.
If the frustration is getting too much, you will be pleased to know that Midnight Deluxe is a very easy completion and not all levels need to be completed to get all 1000G. In fact, only the first 40 need to be completed out of the 80+ on offer; best of all, you only need to get 3 stars on one level for an achievement. Regardless of your performance – as long as you actually finish the level – you can move on to the next one. Other achievements include dying at the hands of the various obstacles and progression based ones for completing a set number of levels.
Midnight Deluxe wants to come across as a calm and relaxing game and tries its very best to do so. Unfortunately, it suffers from some fiddly controls and an over reliance on luck rather than a well-placed shot. Still, it’s cheap and if relaxation to you is the sound of an achievement popping, then Midnight Deluxe will offer you one of the most calming experiences you’ll likely find.