19th Sep2017

Digital Shorts: ’36 Fragments of Midnight’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Rupert Harvey

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at 36 Fragments of Midnight, a brand-new platform/puzzler on the Nintendo Switch.

36FoM_2

From Ratalaika Games, known most recently for the highly playable League of Evil, comes 36 Fragments of Midnight an ultra-simple and remarkably slight arthouse platformer.

Armed only with a double jump, your task is to navigate a single level, collect 36 star fragments while avoiding spikes and saw blades, and then return to the start. That’s it. That’s everything.

36 Fragments of Midnight claims to be “procedurally generated”, although it would be more accurate to say that the different sections – which are the same for every run-through – are simply rearranged each time you restart. In practice this conceit makes little difference to the player experience, especially as some of the traps will be duplicated.

Gameplay-wise, it had one job to do – provide solid controls for achieving your goals – but, staggeringly, the developers have failed in this regard. The double jump is inconsistent, especially when the screen is scrolling upwards, meaning the second jump sometimes doesn’t register. The issue was present in both docked and handheld modes, and was the cause of a few frustrating deaths, as you’re back to zero if you take a single hit.

Sporting an uninspired aesthetic of silhouettes and soft bloom lighting, and a soundtrack consisting of no more than the wailing wind, 36 Fragments of Midnight strives to create an atmosphere. But this is no platforming nightmare – despite the publisher’s claim that “it won’t be easy”, it actually is. Once you have faced each of the traps once or twice you will breeze through the game in 10 minutes. And while I won’t spoil the ending for you, do not expect any kind of a satisfying pay-off.

Even at £2.99 (a quid more expensive than Steam, I hasten to add), this very unfulfilling game cannot be recommended. It might not take up much of your time, but it is a waste of it.

36 Fragments of Midnight is out now on Nintendo Switch.

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