Thanks to Ratalaika Games for the review code
Title: 36 Fragments of Midnight
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 09/14/2017
Using a lot of the same background assets from Midnight and Midnight 2, 36 Fragments doesn’t really offer any new designs to the series, outside of the glowing, yellow shards of light that the game tasks you with finding, and giving the cube you control some cute eyes. There’s not really a title screen either, nor is there any sort of UI or cool menu available, as pausing the game just makes everything freeze with white text overlapping over the current gameplay. Everything’s either black, blue or white, and the boring art style leads to the game feeling samey after a while, especially when you also add in the problems regarding the lack of variety in the overall adventure.
In terms of music… There really isn’t any, outside of a strange, haunting sound of blowing wind that plays throughout the entire game, and a small jingle for when you die. It’s the most barebones presentation I’ve seen in a game all year.
From the very beginning of the randomly generated adventure, you’re given a very simple control scheme where you move around with the left analog stick and either do a single or double jump with a button press. Once you master those incredibly basic controls, your main objective is to search the entire area for the thirty-six titular Fragments, carefully dodging spinning blades, spikes, and other traps along the way.
I also just explained the entire game in one paragraph. There’s literally nothing quirky, clever or new the game throws at you, as once you clear out a floor of the star fragments, you simply find a hole in the ceiling or floor to search out the remaining star fragments, dodging the same, random hazard until you gather all thirty-six… Where the game then prompts you to return to the starting point, meaning that you could very well die before completing the game and have to start the entire ordeal all over again.
While I’d normally be angry at having to restart an entire game right as I was about to finish it off, I honestly can’t be too upset in this situation, since the average world takes about eight to ten minutes to complete depending on how careful you are. What do you get when you finally finish the game, without dying once? Your friends thank you before it records your best time and boots you back to do it all over again! There isn’t even a local or online leaderboard with times that you can try to best from your friends or people around the world. It only saves one best time, and when you best it, the time gets replaced, which doesn’t really encourage the player to keep replaying it to see a nice list of their best speedrun times so they know how much they improved over their previous runs.
In conclusion, 36 Fragments of Midnight might just be the most pointless game I’ve played all year. On paper, it seems like a fun idea, going through a randomly generated maze as fast as you can, trying to improve your best time, but considering how insanely short this game is, and the lack of variety in the level design that doesn’t really motivate me to play through this eight minute adventure more than once, along with the lack of a local OR online leaderboard to see more than one of your best times, and I honestly can’t recommend this game, especially considering how many other $3 or under games I played with a lot more content and replay value. I can’t even get upset about this switch version lacking the achievements from the Vita version, as outside of a very easy Platinum, there’s nothing in that list that would prompt you to play this game for more than an hour anyway. (outside of it challenging you to beat it under six minutes, which is still doable by being a lot more risky with your movements)
Ultimately, this is just a boring waste of time with some tight controls, nothing more, which is a shame since Midnight 2 at least took you a good while to perfect and had some fun levels to play through, instead of this boring, randomly generated adventure that you can completely beat three times in a row while waiting for pizza to arrive. I give 36 Fragments of Midnight a 3 out of 10, and I honestly can’t recommend it to anyone outside of people with a lot of money who do not mind playing insanely short games with no replay value. At the very least, I can commend the developers for adding rock-solid controls, but you’re better off erasing this game from your home menu once you beat it. Looking back, I’m starting to think a DX version of Midnight 1/2 would have been a better package for the Switch.