Birthday of Midnight is a golf-like platformer, with just over 70 levels to play through. It has a Halloween-type aesthetic and has released just in time for spooky season.
Midnight is a little ghost/pillow creature – well, according to the trailer Midnight is a fairy. But they also look like they would go good with some graham crackers and chocolate – smores anyone? But I digress, that’s not important.
What is important is that it’s Midnight’s birthday and they are celebrating it with their parents. But the party stops when the world cracks open and Midnight falls in. Now, to reunite with Midnight’s parents you will need to navigate through a variety of obstacles, climbing your way back up to them. It is this which is the full extent of the plot.
The primary focus in Birthday of Midnight is the gameplay’s straightforward golf-like elements; the only controls required are the A and Y buttons, along with the left analog stick. When holding down the A button, you use the analog stick to direct which way to launch Midnight. The more you push on the analog stick, the farther Midnight is launched. The Y button just serves to reset the level. It’s all very simple stuff.
Each level will have some type of obstacle to overcome, like spikes, fire or falling into the void, and if Midnight hits the edge of the screen it’s also an instant level restart. To progress all you have to do is navigate Midnight to a small hole full of light – after-all, this is a golf game at heart. Overcome the obstacles, and make it through a level within a certain number of moves, and you will be rewarded with anything between one to three stars. But there isn’t any reason to get these stars beside a sense of personal accomplishment.
Birthday of Midnight is about as middle of the road as a game can be in regards to the gameplay. The entire challenge centres around learning the game mechanics, specifically figuring out the power control and how sensitive it is. Many of the levels can be completed by making a bunch of small tweaks instead of trying to make crazy jumps. Since there isn’t a limit to the number of moves you can make there isn’t any reason to not take things slow.
Tactics and strategy can come into play, and each level will typically have a specific wall to bounce off to get Midnight to land in the right spot. There are also stages that require you to launch Midnight very specific distances multiple times in a row, and this is where things get really difficult. Trying to adjust a joystick to the same distance and angle repeatedly is not easy, and there are a few levels that will consist of a ton of trial and error before you beat them. Unless you get lucky or it turns out I’m just bad at this one, very specific, thing.
The short version is, I don’t hate the mechanics that Birthday of Midnight comes with, but I do wish they were a tad less sensitive.
There are some fun elements though; stages full of enjoyable mechanics like fire to dodge, lasers that spin around, gravity changing fields, and some obstacles that need to be cleared by hitting levers. But it seems that throughout spikes are the preferred obstacle of choice. This is a real shame because all of the other elements could’ve made for some interesting puzzle designs. But every time these more complex elements seem to show up, the solution to make it through the level is to either action things faster, or do things in a very obvious order.
I can understand wanting to stay away from complex puzzles in order to keep the game more casual, but things could’ve been spiced up in Birthday of Midnight with the addition of more reflex-based sections. There is a level that works as a pretty good example of what I mean – a series of ramps that have spike balls slowly rolling down them. Midnight needs to jump over these balls to progress and it requires more timing and speed than most of the other levels. If that isn’t clear enough, think of the original Donkey Kong where Mario has to jump over the barrels as he goes up the ramps.
But all in all, Birthday of Midnight is a very simple game and is going to be most suitable for casual gamers, or achievement hunters. That’s right, Birthday of Midnight will give you an easy 1000 Gamerscore if you’re willing to play up to level 50. Each achievement is super easy to complete and if you look at the achievements before getting into things you can easily hit the 100% completion in an hour or two. The really nice thing is you don’t even need to beat the game to get it. The last progress achievement is unlocked after level 50 and the most challenging levels come after that.
If you want to kill some time or you feel like boosting your Gamerscore, then Birthday of Midnight on Xbox One is a cheap buy that will take up a couple hours of your time. It also comes with a very Halloweeny theme, and a soundtrack that fits the vibe, so it could be a good way to get into that spooky spirit. But if you go into the game expecting challenging puzzles, plot, or anything more elaborate than a simple golf-like platformer, then you will be sorely disappointed.