Midnight Fight Express review: Babyface approves of this Beat 'Em Up
Midnight Fight Express is a narrative-driven Beat 'Em Up game developed by Jacob Dzwinel and published by Humble Games. Players take control of a former member of the criminal underworld known as Babyface. The individual is lured back into their previous life by a mysterious drone.
According to the entity, the city will be overrun by criminals by sunrise unless they do something about it. Refusing to let the city burn, Babyface and the drone set out to right the wrongs and end the crime spree.
Midnight Fight Express: The Babyface killer gives no quarters
Fighting games have never been my strong suit. Sure, beating up opponents feels rewarding, but eventually, things get boring. However, when it came to Midnight Fight Express, it had me glued to my chair for long sessions.
Set in a city on the brink of a criminal takeover, Babyface and his drone companions must fight to save their beloved city. However, as fate would have it, the plot thickens like curdled blood, and some startling revelations are made.
But before going into further detail, the blood and literal guts of the game have to be acknowledged, which is brutal combat. Fighting is nothing to kid about for a game that looks childish in nature. It can best be described as a blood-covered symphony of death.
Slide, Heavy Roll Uppercut, and Crotch Stun for maximum effect
Babyface starts as most crime-fighting protagonists would, armed with mere fists and limited skill-set. But by mid-game arrival, he's moving flawlessly across the room to engage opponents. With fighting abilities that would rival most sifus, he's a force to be reckoned with.
The skill tree is easy to navigate and provides various combat options for every occasion. From humble counter-attacks leading to ground executions to using the environment to eliminate an opponent - the possibilities are endless.
The best part about these skills is that they can be practiced on dummies before moving on to the next mission. Players will never have to guess the prerequisites to initiate a specific combat move. Although there are about 30 hand-to-hand combat skills to master, they all seamlessly work in unison during a fight.
When in doubt, throw a knife at an enemy's face
Players can also pick up and use weapons during combat to add some icing to the blood-smeared cake. These include knives, fish, sledgehammers, 9mm pistols, and even pillows. The carnage inflicted using them will make Dexter Morgan proud of the blood splatter patterns.
As players progress through the story, they'll also unlock their personal Secondary Weapon. It features several unique bullet types and can be used to thin the mobs in certain situations. Another helpful utility item is the Rope. Although this one unlocks towards the end-game, it's extremely versatile.
Using all these weapons and skills, players can pull off some entertaining combinations to make their enemy's heads pop. While this might seem overkill, certain enemies will require more than a few whacks to hit the dirt.
The only good Crazies is a dead one
While early-game Bozos are barely a challenge, tougher enemy types like Ratboys and Heavy Bois will give players a run for their Gold Teeth. Knowing when to roll like crazy and counter-attack will make all the difference.
Interestingly enough, the game hosts 69 types of enemies. This includes mobs and bosses. Even though many of the enemy types are reskins, they feel fresh in every mission due to complementing factors. Thanks to how often new variations appear, there's never a dull moment.
Every boss fight and mini-boss fight felt unique as well. One, in particular, The Rat King, was one of the toughest to beat during the early game. Given how limited the space was for combat, the timing was key - something I learned after dying a couple of times - 139, to be exact.
Location, location, and location
One of the things I love the most about Midnight Fight Express is the scenic and sometimes less than scenic locations. Given the number of variations in enemy types, it was only befitting to have individual locations to suit them all.
This ranged from dusty train stations to larger-than-life pubs. Some more unorthodox places included a graveyard and sewer, and how could I forget about an oil rig? Each felt distinct and brought its elements, such as weapon types and storyline advancements.
All in all, throughout the 40 in-game missions, I never felt any level being repetitive. Each location felt new and enjoyable. Some of them had special mechanics as well. I had to dodge incoming trains on one level, while another made me roll about like a Dark Souls character to avoid being squashed by a cargo container.
Is that a BoJack Horseman head, I see?
Being an ex-criminal might go out of style, but the cosmetics included in Midnight Fight Express never will. There are monetary rewards for completing each mission. Even though money means nothing to Babyface, players can use it to stylize their character as they see fit.
Pointdexter Glasses, Altitude Getup, and Ultra Power Gloves were my go-to cosmetics for the duration of my playtime. Although they don't do much other than function as normal apparel, I did feel bad while wearing them. Watching my character block and counter-attack with those Power Gloves felt beyond satisfying.
In addition to the standard cosmetics, there are dozens of more outlandish ones to choose from. Want to fight bad guys wearing a horse's head? That's possible. Duckies for footwear? No problem. The developers even threw in Guy Fawkes' mask for good measure. Players can even dress up as different enemies if that's what they desire.
First impressions and gameplay
As I've mentioned, Beat Em Up games have never been my strong point. I tend to avoid them like Babyface trying to avoid a life of crime. Yet, after playing the first mission, I was hooked on Midnight Fight Express. While the game's pacing changes randomly, it adds to the flavor of things.
Some missions are more challenging than others, but that's a good thing in my books. This means that certain tactics and playstyles will not work in all scenarios. While mashing buttons will yield results, trying to counter-attack and execute combos is much more satisfying.
If combos are not your style, chuck a few knives at opponents and they'll go down easily. I think that's the beauty of Midnight Fight Express. You don't have to be a fan of this genre to enjoy the game. Perhaps this opinion may change if the difficulty is cranked up, but I had fun throughout my eight-plus hours of gameplay.
Without spoiling too much of the storyline and characters in it, I will say this - there's a lot of information to take in. Thankfully, given the linear progression system, players don't have to remember who's who if they don't want to or tend to forget easily.
That being said, the text-based narrative may not be for everyone. While I enjoy it, others may opt to skip ahead and get down to fisticuffs. Nevertheless, given the number of ways Babyface can take out Bozos, Warriors, and Evil Scientists, there's never a dull moment to be had.
Also, I want to talk about the many Easter eggs added to Midnight Fight Express from games like GTA, Call Of Duty, etc. I'd rather not ruin the experience for others. For those wondering if these are well hidden - no. They are visible and easily recognizable if you can spot them during missions.
Midnight Fight Express, provided by Humble Games, was played on the system with the following configuration:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
- GPU: RTX 3070 8GB
- RAM: 32 GB
Personally, the game worked like a charm, but I did notice a bit of stutter while performing specific actions. For instance, just before the Secondary Gun could fire, there was a short delay between the action being implemented and executed. Besides that, everything was fine, even during the most intense of fights.
To say that Midnight Fight Express is a great game. Beneath the slapstick humor, goofy animations, and a talking drone that refuses to shut up, the combat is exceptionally well done.
Thanks to an incentivized system that rewards players for being innovative and creative will eliminations, there is a lot of replayability to be had. Although I haven't been able to complete every challenge on each level or unlock the many available perks, I still had fun taking down mobs of enemies.
With each new skill complimenting and adding to the dynamics in combat, there was a lot to master and learn. Surprisingly enough, due to how well skills seamlessly work in unison, turning Babyface into a super-vigilante took minimal effort.
Perhaps the only gripe I have with Midnight Fight Express is the music. After a while, the techno-themed beats get monotonous, and the music can get annoying if you stay too long on a mission. Other than that, the game is perfect in every way. That said, I can't help but be greedy and ask when the next installment will be ready.
Reviewed on: PC (Review code provided by Humble Games)
Platform: Windows PC
Developer: Jacob Dzwinel
Publisher: Humble Games
Release: August 23, 2022