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Midnight Nowhere

A serial killer is rampaging through a city… over 80 dead… population evacuated… killings continue… Midnight Nowhere!

The game’s opening cutscene in all it’s cinematic glory sets a dark and grisly tone, but fails to reveal an awful lot. Where is this city? In which country? How were the victims murdered? What the hell is going on here? The confusion continues as the game begins. You wake up inside a body bag, unzip it and find yourself in a morgue. Who are you? How did you get there? Why are you in a body bag, but not dead? Are you a zombie?

On the face of it, Midnight Nowhere is a point and click adventure viewed from a third person perspective. Your character who has conveniently forgotten everything (also known in the industry as not being arsed to think up a proper background story) and it’s up to you to guide him through the adventure that unfolds. A tall, white American, he has no distinguishing features whatsoever. Should you like him, trust him? A more disturbing question is why he talks about wanting to have sex with one of the female corpses in the first moments of the game. Where is the game going with this? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to find out.

I persevered though and my suspicions were correct; this is one seriously awful game. For starters, the interface is quite possibly the worst you could have come up with given the scenario. When your character enters a room, you move the cursor over objects to interact with them. Done correctly, this would work well, but Midnight Nowhere turns into a hunt for objects which are far too easy to miss in the sometimes dark environments. There are also four separate actions which can be selected, so you’ll have to scan each item you find four times to make sure you don’t overlook anything.

A mechanic more like the console versions of Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon would have suited the game far better, with key items highlighted subtly and the player controlling their character directly instead of via a point and click interface. Broken Sword is a breeze to play and enjoyable even when the puzzles get harder than usual. Midnight Nowhere is simply the opposite of this; about as enjoyable as stepping in a pile of horse manure.

You’ll spend most of your time hopelessly wandering the same old rooms again and again, looking for the clue you’ve missed or the object you were meant to pick up. It’s nearly impossible to complete the game without a walkthrough and although the puzzles are fairly logical, it’s just too hard to work your way through them in the way that the developer meant. All this time, your character is cracking crude jokes, hardly taking the whole ‘serial killer on the loose’ plot seriously. You’ll end up thinking that having the guy killed by the murderer would be more entertaining than actually bothering to progress through the game.

To its credit, Midnight Nowhere‘s graphics are fairly good, setting a dark tone throughout. The background audio also works well to draw up tension, much like in other survival horror games. Sometimes you expect something big and hairy to just leap out from a dark corner and mutilate our poor loser of a character. However, any atmosphere that the graphics and sound create is utterly destroyed by the joke that is the game’s dialogue.

Our character blurts out a mixture of nonsense, crude jokes and poor one-liners whenever he feels like it, with some of them so bad that you’ll just laugh out loud. Take this subtle hint he gives, ìThe local pathologist mustíve had plenty of leisure time if he could spend it on these amateur experiments. I hope he didnít discover some nasty secret that Iím going to come crashing into soonî. Another gem can be found when he has to open a cabinet, “Am I going to have to remember the Pythagorean theorem to open it?” Upon discovering the body of a young female in one of the body bags next him at the beginning of the game, our character comments, ìWow, great tits! Needed some silicone, thoughî. Enough said.

The game’s twisted sense of humour doesn’t stop there though. With plenty of profanity, nudity and even the chance of making corpses dance using electrical surges, there’s plenty of here for those looking for an ‘interesting’ gaming experience. At times, Midnight Nowhere is just creepy and disturbing, but it’s not executed in the way that other games make this type of content more acceptable.

So what we end up with is a poorly constructed, frustrating game with some seriously unsettling content. The graphics are reasonable, but the gameplay interface and mechanic are flawed. The dialogue is plain weird and the replay value diminished by every other element in the game. This is certainly one game to stay away from.

3 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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