Midnight Fight Express is the latest edition to the brawler genre of games that was developed by Jacob Dzwinel and published by Humble Games. The game takes place in an urban setting and the main character is a sleeper assassin that somehow has amnesia. Not only does your guy not know who he is or how he got into his current position, but he’s also guided by a drone that tries to fill in the blanks for him and gives him this grand mission to kill the bad guys and save the world – seems very cliche but it feels alright enough for this game.
Every so often after completing a mission you’re given a cutscene with two detectives who have pinned you for the various crimes you’ve committed. They serve as narrators to this story whilst interrogating you and summarizing your recent activities in a good cop bad cop fashion. The dialogue and conversation are by no means for a young audience, as there are a ton of swear words, innuendos, and other adult themes balled into one. What makes this work so well is the comedy from everyone involved BUT you. The cops, the bad guys, and even the drone that’s accompanying you on this crazy mission.
Midnight Fight Express has an art style that could be described as sort of “generic indie” that you’d commonly see online on different platforms – but by no means is this game generic in any sense. What I love about the style of this game is the fact that it’s NOT the most visually impressive game, but it’s a breath of fresh air from all of the triple-A titles coming at us as if there’s no tomorrow. You can customize how your character looks with a ton of skins that range from the different bosses in the game to the many low-tier enemies you’ve beaten to a pulp along the way, and even add some cool cosmetic outfits to your character to make him stand out even more. The key to getting these various skins and cosmetics is replaying the level over and getting a higher score.
The game’s design is that of a top-down, geometric style – which sort of takes away from the excitement in a way because there isn’t much to explore. There are collectibles in this game, cheekily dubbed “gold tooth” that you can get from the losers you feed knuckle sandwiches to, but the problem that I’ve run into repeatedly is the tooth flying away from me after I KO someone and not being able to grab it afterward. What I would’ve liked instead is after the said beating, a pop-up notification appeared saying I collected a tooth. There are some levels where you’d win a fight, see a tooth fly out of reach, and into a part of the level you can’t go or is too dangerous to even think about going after.
Midnight Fight Express has very smooth character movements and transitions with controls to match. The combat mechanics are also basic – pressing the action button to attack lets you do the standard attacks and combos while holding it enables you to do a stronger attack to break the enemy’s guard which opens them up to a world of pain. The combat evolves the more you upgrade your skill tree, but not so much that it feels like an upgraded fighting experience every time. When you get a secondary weapon (automatically assigned to a shoulder button) it can either do more damage or throw off your combo if you’re not conscious enough to hold that same shoulder button to pull off a finisher. In the beginning, before I had gotten this weapon I was able to simply press the LB button to do my finishers, now I have to hold it in order to pull off a cool finishing blow.
Other fighting mechanics that are fun to use are the “environmental hazards” that seem to be lying about all over the level. What this means is if there’s a chair, a large box, a cone, or any other object that can be thrown, it’ll get thrown! This works both ways to pay attention to your enemies because they’ll fight just as dirty. This dirty tactic is similar to another hit indie game Sifu in the sense that you can use anything in your environment as a weapon to help you secure that win. I think more games should implement this because when you pull off a combo and you’re able to implement this for a higher score, it’s damn impressive to see AND to pull off!
In addition to the simplistic combat and cool combos you can do, is the twin-stick shooter element. Here’s the thing, it’s not completely like a twin-stick shooter in the ways of using the right stick to aim and shoot simultaneously, but whenever you have a firearm you have to use the right stick to aim and press the right trigger button to shoot. I know I suck at twin-stick shooters so my aim is ALWAYS off – which is the reason why I stay away from using firearms as much as possible. In my experience, you can be in a straight line with your opponent and still miss. I’ve had instances where I’ve missed a few shots at point-blank range, resulting in my enemy only being hit with a few bullets and living through it. Even with my terrible aim, something like this shouldn’t be happening at all.
The skill tree is something unique because you’re able to purchase whatever skills you want from any of the three pillars as long as you have the necessary amount of points to do so, and ultimately create your own playstyle. So far I’ve purchased roughly four different skills altogether from the different pillars and progressed to the halfway point in the game – which tells me if you REALLY want to challenge yourself beyond the different difficulty levels the game offers, you can purchase the minimum amount of skills needed to get through the game.
What I like about Midnight Fight Express is it’s an easy game to pick up and put down and get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Every time I load this game up I find myself not really caring about the story too much and just going for the action as fast as I could. The downside is on average, I spend maybe 2hrs each time I play – the story isn’t the most gripping narrative out there and there’s way too much dialogue to read through despite being comical in an adult way. I think this game would’ve benefited from some cool voice acting to keep the player more interested and spend more time on the game. I love the option of using a preset of difficulty levels the game provides you or creating your own, and as I said before, implementing your own challenges to make it even more fun. Midnight Fight Express is available on all platforms for $19.99 and you can get it on Xbox Gamepass right now. If you have Gamepass I suggest getting it as it is a lot of fun, otherwise, hold out for a really good deal! Final Score: 7/10