36 Fragments of Midnight is possibly one of the most simple games to grace the Nintendo Switch so far. Made by Petite Games and published by enthusiastic Switch supporter, Ratalaika games, this is a game that I’m struggling to form an opinion on.
The premise is simple. You are a little glowing cube called Midnight on a quest to retrieve your friends 36 star fragments. Despite what you may think, it’s not actually an adventure style platformer, it’s more of an arcade-y type game. With your task to collect these 36 fragments you have one life and dying will set you back to the beginning. You need to get them all in one go, which is not quite as easy as it seems.
Aside from moving with the analogue stick, you have one button to use which is jump. That’s all the inputs used in this game. Without wanting to make things too extravagant, you can actually use a double jump which you will very much need.
There are hazards everywhere although they just consist of spikes, lasers and saw blades, nothing else. It’s very easy to learn how to deal with them, but the game does often put them in tight, perilous areas, making for not the easiest of experiences. I found the saw blades to by far the most common cause of death and frustration, especially when I was only a couple fragments away from the goal.
One odd thing about 36 Fragments of Midnight is that everything is procedurally generated. Every time you play, everything is in a different position. The map layout, the hazards and of course, the star fragments you need to collect. I found it peculiar at first that every time you die, you start again from scratch with everything in a completely different place. When I thought about it more though, it does make a lot of sense from a development standpoint. The goal of the game is to collect these 36 fragments and return to base, that’s it. If you’re lucky with placements then that could only take a few minute until the game is over. So the random generation adds some sort of replayability to it as well as slight longevity as the player won’t be able to master the game so quickly.
Despite this, it still feels like a very empty game, lacking in content. You have to take into account the price though, since it matches what the game offers and making it one of, if not the cheapest game on the eShop currently. But is it worth it? I’m not entirely sure. After 10 or 20 minutes playing 36 Fragments of Midnight, I felt I had had my fill with the game, even despite not completing it by that point. I didn’t get much inclination to keep playing. The first time I managed to collect all 36 without dying it took me seven minutes and 33 seconds and that was about half an hour after I began playing. The only incentive to play again was to beat my previous time, but in a randomly generated world that seems a little unbalanced.
I think visually the game looks nice with its silhouetted foreground that’s ever so popular these days, I especially like the dust effect that sweeps over the screen. Although aside from that it rarely stands out. The soundtrack leaves something, meaning there’s basically no soundtrack at all apart from environmental sounds which are supposed to make it more serene, atmospheric or lonely, but I just thought it was lacking.
Something that I feel I need to mention in hope of a patch is that the double jump is a tad dodgy in specific occasions. If you touch the ceiling at any point you can’t double jump, which may be a mechanic of the game but one that I found annoying. Although there’s certainly a bug where the double jump fails to register between vertical screen transitions and probably needs to be fixed.
Overall, as I said right at the beginning, it’s a difficult game to give a true verdict on. It’s almost too basic for its own good and doesn’t have the longevity to make it worth much of your time, but that is truly reflected in the price which I can’t complain about it. It is what it is, and it knows it. If you think playing it over and over again and trying to improve your time is fun, then maybe you’ll find 36 Fragments of Midnight a fun experience. If you’re looking for something a bit more meaty then this just isn’t for you.
Game provided by Ratalaika Games.