Midnight Nowhere

Publisher: Buka Entertainment
Developer: Saturn+
Type: Adventure Game

Murders… Dozens of horrific murders. People are leaving the town in panic.

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The police are bending over backwards to catch the criminal; the military are putting cordons round the town… but nothing can stop the maniac. New corpses are found every day. Horror and death reign over the town…

You wake up and find yourself in a mortuary. The room, which you are in, is a mess. Dead bodies lie scattered all around you… What am I doing here? What happened in this room? You cannot remember… The answers awaits you at the end of your journey…

Horror adventures aren’t scattered too thick. And what�s more, not many actually deserve that name. Only two such games were able to attract my attention, and that were Phantas Magoria I and II. And my god, in gaming terms, that was centuries ago. So when I was asked to preview Midnight Nowhere, yet another attempt to create a horror adventure, I started off sceptical.

And I must admit, as soon as I crawled out of the body bag, I started looking at what was wrong, at flaws, anything to tear this game down. The first thing I noticed was the music. It was perfect. Very simple yet dark and depressing, surrounding me with a feeling of utter desolation. Combined with a morgue that has been torn asunder, blood splattered on the walls and nobody to be seen, no movement … nothing, it did the trick. This, ladies and gentlemen, is an atmosphere that achieves it goal.

This atmosphere is maintained throughout the game, with music varying from location to location, but always with the same effect. Just about every room and corridor is a silent witness of horror with blood on the walls, the floors and the ceilings, dead bodies everywhere and the furniture �slightly moved around�. The character also appears to be somewhat cynical, and the jokes he makes (a bit to many for my taste actually) enhances his cynicism.

The graphics aren’t bad either. They actually remind me of the leaked Doom III demo (that I didn’t see :). Everything is nicely detailed and the shadows look really natural. But here the first flaws do appear. The graphics are really good, but when you �do� something, it doesn’t really show it. Like when I pull out my axe, and use it to force open a locker, you just see the characters hand reach out to the locker (sometimes even that is skipped). It would be better if you could actually see the character take a swing at that locker. And when the character says something, it’s �subtitled� on a rather awkward way, that really needs more attention! Apart from that however, I must repeat myself and say it looks great !

The camera viewpoints are adventure-classic �overview-points�. You see a part of a location (the one with the character in) and moving the character around changes this viewpoint. I think it would have been better if you could turn the camera freely since certain corners of a room are easily overlooked now. If I’m not mistaken, one of the Myst-games allowed this and it came in really handy. It seems that there was an attempt of renewal with these viewpoints though, one that constitutes of add placement of the camera (like near the floor in a corner in stead of near the ceiling, making it look up), I must say I wasn’t pleased with it.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s move on to the adventure-specific stuff. The interface is a very simple point&click; one. 4 functions with the mouse: look, talk, grab and use and a simple inventory. That’s all that is needed. Nothing more to say about that.

So far, this game comes out quite good. Good graphics, excellent sound, superb atmosphere, efficient interface (apart from the viewpoints) and only a few flaws. But what about the aspect that makes an adventure an adventure? A rather important issue, I would say. But unfortunately, I can’t really address it. The beta copy I was given, was mainly Russian ! The character spoke Russian (English subtitles thank god) and the notes that had to provide so many clues were Russian !
You cannot imagine how hard it is to find answers to the puzzles if you can’t read the clues. I was only able to advance by using the walkthrough that was given with the game. When following the answers I had the idea that the game wasn’t easy at all, but still within common sense, and therefore not impossible. I find it a real shame however, that I couldn’t play it as it was meant to be, that this very important aspect was kept hidden from me.

So, assuming that the game play is indeed good, I suggest you keep track of this game, it will be more than worthy of the label �horror adventure�. And if they fix those flaws, it will be a regular hit !