Midnight Fight Express was an indy game shown off at the summer game fest. It’s a promising looking Isometric brawler and the first game by Jacob Dzwinel. A demo was made available and I have now tried it on Steam Deck. The question is, is it any good?
I’ll get the most important thing out of the way performance. On Steam Deck it defaults to everything maxed out (high settings), bar shadows which is set to medium. This results in a locked 60fps with around 50% gpu usage, and 14 watt total system power draw resulting in around 3 hours battery life. I do believe that shadows on high would still achieve 60fps, However, I left them on medium. The frame timings were also rock solid, with stutter as it creates a shader cache.
The story of Midnight Fight Express seems quite generic but interesting enough, it opens up with you being investigated by the cops. It then flashbacks to the first stage and the story is told from the perspective of showing the events that happened and then going back to you being interrogated between that.
Visually the game is extremely basic, and to be honest while I appreciate it is intentionally going for a simplistic style I do not appreciate the look. The art style could still be unique and creative despite the simplistic low polygon style, however it has a very stock asset look to it. Clearly it is not, and this is a one man team so I don’t want to be harsh but clearly art is not their strong point.
The game starts off giving a terrible impression. There is a dodge button and only one button to attack, it starts off extremely simplistic and mashy, almost deceptively so. Enemy types however come fast even at the start, you can pick up weapons too, including guns. I could not shake off how mashy it still felt despite the enemy variety, that was however, until I completed the first level. Suddenly you see a skill tree, among training options etc. It became immediately clear that the combat will open up significantly, you unlock parries, the ability to grapple people and new combos etc.
Playing some more levels even more enemy types were thrown in and the combat started opening up with the new skills, suddenly I saw the potential of the combat. It is no Sifu but there is certainly depth here, the issue is it’s going to take quite some time for the game to get there.
This is problematic to me as the levels themselves while very short are not very memorable and I wonder how many levels will be left by the time the combat really opens up, we know there will be a total of 41. I beleive you can replay levels but I am not a fan of replaying levels with new skills to get a new experience, especially when those levels are not memorable in the slightest and you do not need the skills to complete them.
This is where I am unsure how the game will pan out when it releases on August 23rd. I think the dev wanted to give a sense of progression, and replayabillity but I am not entirely convinced this is the way to do it. At the very least I think the parry and grapple should just be available immediately.
Outside of the combat the game has customisation options for your avatar, which have reasonable depth, a training mode as previously mentioned and so on.
This is where I really do not care for the game, the sound effects lack any form of impact, the mixing is poor and everything all round is just bad in my opinion. The soundtrack is made by My Friend Pedro composer Noisescream. Which again I do not care for, I hated the soundtrack to My Friend Pedro personally, as it is just not my taste. However if you do like Noisescream’s work you will likely get enjoyment out of the OST at least.
Midnight Fight Express is a very promising Isometric 3D brawler, with some very questionable design decisions, all of this can be tweaked before the final release on August 23rd. I have no idea where it is going to land, however, I will be keeping a close eye on it. I urge anyone interested to check out the demo