Malcolm Owen On April 10, 2004 at 8:58 am

The last time I checked, it was traditional form to scream so loudly you lose all usage of your trachea whenever confronted by a situation that involves your own mortality and the possibility of a lack of it at that. Then again, Midnight Nowhere doesn’t conform to tradition. This is immediately apparent by the participant letting themselves out of a body-bag within a morgue. "John Doe" (my name for him) finds himself in this exact predicament, with a further few body-bags occupied to boot. Does John scream like a baby at all of this? Nope. He just stands there, giving snide comments about a female corpse and her cleavage.

Midnight Nowhere has the principle aim of trying to work out what the hell has happened to the building, and why John ended up in the body-bag to begin with. It’s your typical "What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is going on here!?" scenario, with a dash of Monkey Island thrown in for good measure. What doesn’t appear in the adventures of Guybrush Threepwood however, is the high body count that is most likely not down to you. Everyone, aside from you for reasons unknown, is dead, a corpse, lacking of "the force" or however you want to put it, and there’s no immediate way out of the situation.
Atmospherically speaking, it’s just right for a horror/conspiracy game, and although there’s the feel of one of the many cadavers getting up and trying to hump your leg whilst you escape as you experience in almost all survival-horror games out there on the market, it just never happens. The creepiness comes from the extensive reading material available and the huge amount of items that have various nefarious uses on show around the rooms. If it were possible to cut the suspense with a heavy but sharp implement found on an operating room table, then it would be expected to see some sort of bodily remnants on the blade.
The looks add to the almost nauseating sense of torture you are attempting to put yourself through, not only by the overall darkness of the locations, nor by the amount of items you can see, but by the locations themselves. Sure, we’d all be a bit afraid going around a hospital at night, and Midnight Nowhere plays up to this familiarity we have with the places we have visited in real life, and allows ourselves to fill in any gaps, to imagine extra gruesomeness based upon our previous knowledge. I have had the unfortunate need to visit a hospital half-way through the game, and although it was 3pm and to see a friend who hurt his leg, I swear I wanted to leave quite quickly, rather than hang around too long and find some brain in a jar or possibly a dead person being wheeled down the corridor. The game is pretty crisp-looking, probably due to being mostly pre-rendered backdrops and only a minimal usage of 3D for John himself, and this sure does help when looking at things close-up.

If there are some things that may put people off, it may have something to do with the vast amount of dead people and sex, both in large quantities. There’s an uncommonly large amount of women suffering from an anti-clothing reflex-action in photographs, which some people may find extremely strange. Heck, there is a puzzle involving a dark room (nothing new), and the solution involves the usage of a "women’s loneliness device" (you know what I mean). Sometimes you have to find alternative uses for a dead body to get somewhere, but it’s nothing too worrying. This is almost certainly why the game got a high age rating of 16+ on the Pegi scale.
John, the star of the game that he is, shares a similar trait to Mr Threepwood. Just like Guybrush, John can come out with snide, funny, and downright weird comments about most things he finds. The example earlier of the female corpse is a pretty good one, as it’s about this same level of humour appears throughout. It could easily be said that he is breaking the tension and atmosphere within the game by making any of these comments, but they aren’t any worse than anything I have muttered to myself when watching a serious horror film on TV. He is voiced well, and it’s pretty hard to imagine any other voice saying the lines and fitting in with the rest of the game’s makeup.

Midnight Nowhere is a train ride through weirdness made by the lovechild of the X-Files, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and any b-movie with tons of adult themes within it. A thick story with pretty gruesome imagery and some inspired proclamations from an amnesia sufferer, which is good for a laugh at least. Just don’t look at the women too much…


Point and Click is still alive, and is good when implemented well, just like this


Atmospheric, if a little dark at times


Moody as hell, adds to the effect of spookiness


A “Dead Good” game, which works for me more than Stephen King ever did

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