Midnight Nowhere


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Saturn+, Buka

Publisher:    Oxygen Ent (UK) & Tri-synergy (US)

Released:  2004

PC Requirements:   Pentium II 400, 1GB Hard disk space, 64MB RAM memory, DirectX Compatible Video card, DirectX Compatible Video Sound card, 4X CD ROM drive




by gatorlaw

Midnight Nowhere

This game first surfaced a good year or so back. The graphics looked good and the story line was definitely not a cookie cutter adventure game. A number of preview copies were sent out around the gaming community – but the dialogue was Rumanian with English sub-titles and the documents and signs were un-translated. As best we could tell – it seemed a dark, futuristic game with a great deal of promise.

Having finished the game, I wish I could say the game was good, fair or even just tolerable. Not that case.  Instead, this game gets a big thumbs-down from me. If that is all you need to know – don’t bother with the rest of the review. If you want to know what happened with this game – read on at your peril.

The Good

Yes, I know – it seems contradictory. But, Midnight Nowhere had it’s share of high points. In fact, my initial impression of the game was very positive. I liked the demo and was set to have a good time with this game.

The graphics that impressed me in the demo, in fact were even better in the game. They have a surreal look and feel to them, which is unique and appealing. As you wander through the game, there are a large number of objects and places to look at, interact with that aren’t essential to the plot or game advancement. You get glimpses of violently torn apart rooms and still figures hanging or crumpled in death just out of reach. All of this created a mood that was disturbing – but entertaining. I don’t mind a dark horror tinged game in the least. The look of the game is base line industrial generica, but the posters, their neon swatches of color and other items add a great dimension to the look of the game. The faces of people on posters and photos are all slightly off, nightmarish even. I wondered as I played, if perhaps the whole thing was a nightmare and not real to the character at all. The music added a whole other layer to the atmosphere and I really enjoyed myself, at this early point of the game.

The story was fairly original and at times riveting. There were many plot possibilities, that passed through my mind about where the game was headed and what had been going on in this hospital of horrors. The ending – though rushed was acceptable and made sense.

So the real issue is – with such a unique story line, great graphics, ambiance and other positive factors, how did this game not only lose my interest; but, cause me to dislike it? Well let’s see, where do I start?

The Bad…

In the beginning, you find yourself climbing out of a body bag. You have no memory of who you are, where you are or how you got there. This part of the game was pretty good. With all the obvious carnage and violence, it seemed fairly crucial to figure out fast, who you were and what was going on.  I had a number of tasks to complete, challenges to overcome. It is essentially an “open the door” get to the next level – multi task game. I liked the game at that point and was fairly engrossed. So we get to the next corridor and there are a number of locked rooms. No problem, I figured my way into a few of them, started accumulating inventory items and had a good impression of the game so far.

But that is pretty much where the puzzling stopped in terms of variety. It was not just one door or even 4 doors – but an endless stream of one locked door, broken door, jammed door, tied off door after another.  And there would be multiple locked doors in every new area – so it was difficult to tell which couldn’t be opened til later, or held the keys to the other locked doors or might never be opened at all in this game or this lifetime. I can say that I actually like locked door puzzles, but a whole game of them is a little dull after a while.

Now there is another aspect of the game, that truthfully, didn’t disturb me a great deal or ruin my gameplay – BY ITSELF. The language in the game is definitely on the rough side of the spectrum. Now there are a many adventure gamers who will find that reason enough to take a pass on this game. You definitely wouldn’t want to play this with your kids.  But I suppose I got acclimated after the first 20 times and – well this guy is obviously not a polished good guy. He looks and acts like a soldier or undercover cop out in the field. SO I just sort of shrugged and moved on.  Then there are the soft porn graphic pictures. Again, I went huh? Hmm ok. They were less than what you would see in Playboy or even many fashion mags these days, but they did get more realistic and graphic as the game progressed. There is a chapter where you are in a prison cell with some definite low lifes, so it seemed logical to the plot – if unnecessary. Again, many gamers out there might easily add this aspect to their list of reasons on why not to buy this game.

What did it for me are the ugly parts of this game, which when factored into my gaming mood – made all the annoying stuff go from annoying or noticeable to grating. SO the terrible parts of the game created a cascade effect, where my view on the game got worse and worse til I wanted to stop playing and smash the game.

The Ugly……

Getting back to the interactive part of the graphical environment. Though, I truly liked the surreal imagery and the many items you could look at and interact with. Many of these I could have also done without. The posters themselves were pretty funny. One in particular, dealt with the risks of drug use and had a person who was eventually killed, because a machine operator who hated drug addicts ran the guy over. Juvenile – probably – but I laughed hard at a number of these public service type posters. However, your characters comments were many times stupid and annoying and after a while just started ticking me off.

Which leads us to the dialogue. I have mentioned the choice of language, but what really got to me were the comments the guy makes as he examines his environment. A great deal of your quest for “door opening devices” and/or items that will lead to “door opening devices” involves searching and examining dead bodies. Conveniently – they are liberally strewn about – so you have a lot to look through. What was annoying, became irritating and moved onto obnoxious - were these little comments. One dead woman would have been great, “with a little more silicone.” Another was a princess, but he couldn’t explain that one if he took her home. This guy never ran out of a new way to smack down a dead woman. After the 15th reference to a cold shower, steaming the mirror and whatever phrase, to say the same thing – I just got pretty tired of the lack of creativity in the dialogue. 20 times might have been slightly humorous – maybe – but 100 times and you just want to shoot someone. To get another perspective, I had my 14 year old give it a whirl – and he got bored and cranky sooner than I did. He asked, if 12 year olds had written the dialogue. Hmmm, Maybe they did?

This aspect was ugly, but what really kindled my growing disdain, were the eternal pixel hunts and the interface, which added a whole new level of pain to this endless searching.  

The interface uses a sort of throwback mechanism – like those used in early LucasArts games. Instead of an automatic interactive cursor, you have to manually click up top to change it’s function. If you want to pick up something you have to click “grab” to enable that function. Even that wouldn’t have been too bad, if the interface had been consistent or the cursor would have lit up on items of interest. It did – BUT only if you had the correct function selected. In other words, if there was a close up needed to get at an item and you had “grab” selected, when you slid your cursor over the area – nothing would happen. And what function would get a response - wasn’t consistent. I spent more time trying to figure out which function would allow me to do what the game clues and my own logic told me should be done than I did just doing it. For example, there is a radio in the game. I needed batteries. Seemed like a logical source for such a thing. Except no interface seemed to work. “look” just got the same comments. “Grab” didn’t work. Finally it came down to getting a WT – seeing I had been right for the last hour and using some weird combo to get the thing, and access the battery. And that was just for one lone inventory item and of course you needed two batteries. This occurred endlessly through out the game. A chair had a very important item – but 12 passes over that chair showed nothing there to interact with and I was stuck for quite a while. It wasn;t until I inadvertently had a different function selected fot the cursor – that it suddenly reacted with a glow on that spot. Add in the fact (that should have been a positive) that this was one fairly long game with a large number of environments to access and explore, well it didn’t take long for me to no longer care how or when I got to them.

Not only is there an over reliance on pixel hunting, many of the separate “hot spots” were so close that it was difficult to tell there were more than one in a given location. Even when you ‘knew” there were more items to discover in a given spot – it could take painfully slow panning and clicking over and over again to trigger the right hot spot.

SO for those who think the seedier elements of the game are the reason for my low opinion, think again. They were just the icing on a bad cake. This game could have had a Jane Jenson driven plot and this interface would have made me see red. 

The End of the Road

I would say don’t get this game unless it is bargain basement priced and only if you have a WT in hand to help you find the hot spots in the game. Even then – be prepared to search and re-search the same area to trigger them. However, for people interested in collector’s items – you might get it. I think it will have a hard time getting published in the US, given the language and sexual content. Now I think that should not be an issue – for games have and will be developed for adults only. But if the consensus (right or wrong) is that only kids buy games, then this one will have to have a “mature” or adult only rating here in the states. That will make it a very hard game to carry in stores. I doubt the developers would want or even be able to change the game enough to qualify for a more kid friendly rating – so it likely will be a UK only purchase for those who want the English version. Those quantities dry up fast – so I see this game fetching huge prices on Ebay and the like in a year or so.

Other than curiosity or a collector’s investment – I say save your money for other games.

Final Grade

Graphics, music – A

Story – C

Interface and game play – F

Fun with game – D


Bottom line grade: D-

I played this game on the following system:

Pent 4 - 2.6 GHz

XP home edition

512 RAM

Nvidia Ge Force 5200

128 Mb video

SB Live sound card


design copyright © 2004 GameBoomers Group

 GB Reviews Index