With 36 Fragments of Midnight, developer Petite Games has made, well… a petite game. After three failed runs and two that were successful, I had seen everything that this unremarkable platformer has to show within the space of 20 minutes.
If you hadn’t already gathered from the somewhat misdirected name, Midnight is the luminous cuboid that you play as – an unassuming character that innocently sets out to recover 36 star fragments that its furry friends have misplaced. Choosing to ignore their menacing demeanour, Midnight enthusiastically leaps into action.
To recover the diamond-shaped star fragments, players are challenged to explore the surrounding area and return once they have gathered them all. The area is procedurally generated for each attempt, simplicity in approach seeing your only control over Midnight being movement, a jump, and double jump.
These will soon be needed to dodge merciless lasers, to leap over and duck between circular saws, and to evade spikes whose existence want nothing more than to cut your run short. That’s because the main challenge that is thrown your way is to recover the star fragments without perishing. Die, and you will have to start over.
The biggest problem that 36 Fragments of Midnight suffers from is that it isn’t hard to master. Yes, the layouts are procedurally generated, but the separate jigsaw pieces that are used to slot the area together remain unchanged. Learn how to judge a jump that overcomes an obstacle once, and it is likely that it will never present a problem for you again.
That means that, more often than not, death comes from mistimed user error rather than having to survive any complexity that the developer has mischievously placed to challenge you. It results in an unrewarding adventure that lacks any real sense of accomplishment, and I had to stifle my own laughter when returning the star fragments saw Midnight’s friends simply reward it with their thankfulness – their self-proclaimed greatest gift.
Even the audio direction baffles. Meandering melancholic piano music loops aimlessly on the title screen only to be interrupted as bells chime when you start playing. And then, only a looping wind noise accompanies you as you explore. The cheeriest piano melody comes whenever you die, surprisingly. Odd.
There is certainly a place for 36 Fragments of Midnight on the Nintendo eShop, mainly as an inexpensive introductory experience to the platforming genre. But, it comes hard to recommend. Lacking in challenge and replayability, it fails to shine bright enough to guide you away from more worthwhile games.