Midnight Nowhere, published by Tri Synergy is Buka Entertainment’s entry into the once glorious adventure genre. In days past, games such as Zork, King’s Quest, and Myst treated players to tests of logic, memory and intellectual prowess; these games were a staple of the computer game market. With beautiful graphics, a “Resident Evil” atmosphere and mind-numbing puzzles, this title attempts to resuscitate a struggling genre. Does Midnight Nowhere revitalize this all but flat lined genre? Sadly, my answer is a firm “Midnight No.” The game is rift with technical glitches, interface issues, obscene content, and frustration instead of fun. It is not the worst game I have ever played, but that is not saying much.The game begins with a short introduction resembling a news report about a serial killer who has plagued a town and whose identity is unknown. You then awake on a metal table in a morgue without identification or any memory of who you are. You quickly realize that the morgue is not the only area housing the dead. They are everywhere and you need to find out why. This starts your quest through a bizarre hospital where patients seem to be in need of much better healthcare. Bodies are around every corner and the more you learn, the less you feel that you know. When you are finally able to escape the hopeless tomb that was once a haven for healing, you find yourself in an equally dismal prison. The only living inhabitants of this fine example of tax dollars at work are not very fond of you. Your captors are sure that you are bad news and your cellmates see you as a nuisance. Your journey through this location brings you closer to an ending that, I must admit, was quite a surprise.The developer attempted to make this game easy to pick up and play. The result is an interface in which you move your character and determine each action with the click of the mouse. You control your character by choosing to “look, talk, pick up, use/activate, or read your PDA.” Although this seems like it would be a user-friendly setup, it is actually a source of frustration. At times, when you pass the pointer over an interactive location, you must have the correct action selected. I spent a lot of time trying to guess how to accomplish a task that, according to my logic, required one action when another was actually required. At other times, the icon automatically appeared as the desired action without changing the selection. I wish this had been done throughout the game. Despite the difficulty involved in interacting with the environments, the appearance of the locations was very good and set an appropriate mood to the dark story.Aside from the quirky interface, the linear storyline requires that you to solve puzzles composed of seemingly unrelated activities that must be completed in a specific order. As items are collected, they are stored in an easily accessible inventory and you use these to trigger other events. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way you know what to do next is by interpreting vague clues given in notes scribbled on p**ographic pictures or babbled by some character in the environment. This game is a true test of meticulous note taking and environment studying. There were occasions when I returned to a prior location five or six times to make sure I did not miss some banal clue written on a toothpick or in the crack of a wall. The result went like this: Go to location A, pick up item B, press item C, look at the wall and read the message scribbled on item D, pick up item E and then open the door&h**ip;after combining items B and E which creates item F&h**ip;and using item F to find the key to unlock said door. Sound frustrating? It is.One of the most disappointing aspects in the game was the fact that, although the environments look very realistic, your character and all other “bodies” look out of place. There were times when looking at an item that I was convinced I was viewing a photograph and not a rendered image. Equally memorable was the fact that each humanoid form appeared bland in comparison. It was almost as if the designer completed that game and thought, “Oh, I forgot the bodies,” and put in some. One strange anomaly is that any time my character entered a bathroom, his legs stopped moving and his head slid back and forth across his shoulders. It was almost as if he just levitated through those environments. In addition to the rough look and inconsistent animation, at times, when attempting to complete an action, your character will spin like a dog looking for a comfortable position before completing the feat. These distracting aspects really pull away from the horror characteristic of the game.One other aspect of the game that felt forced and out of place to me was the p**ographic nature of many elements in the game. Parents will not want the kids around when playing this title. The walls play host to numerous pictures of women in various stages of undress. In addition to this, several of the puzzles involve the use of sex-related objects. If this was to enhance the story, I missed the connection. Initially it seemed that there was some link to perversion and a doctor in the morgue, but that was never resolved. Strangely, the main character often makes very odd comments and sounds like an immature schoolboy with no capacity for normal behavior. I would be more accepting of this if it justified the story in some way, but this character is supposed to be an amnesiac searching for his identity. In my opinion, it does not work.Midnight Nowhere’s installation was not without its flaws. I began on my laptop at about 10 pm and was unsuccessful twice. I then moved to my desktop, with fresh video drivers and a clean install. After the third attempt, it was “Midnight,” I had gotten “Nowhere,” and I was ready to send for undamaged disks. Miraculously, shortly after midnight, I had the game installed and it worked fine.The graphics in Midnight Nowhere are very good with the exception of the character models. Many of the environments look real and help set the mood for the game. The amount of effort that went into creating these environments is commendable. The sound and music is good, adding to the overall feel of the game. Unfortunately, the voice acting is below average and much of the dialogue is either silly or crude. This ultimately detracted from the mood of the game.Midnight Nowhere offers no multiplayer options, but this is not a problem in a title of this type. The replay value is low. I cannot envision why anyone would want to play through it a second time, as there is no difficulty adjustment available.Midnight Nowhere attempts to bring a breath of fresh air into the all-but-dead adventure genre on the PC. Recent attempts such as Syberia have kept the blood flowing, but, without continued transfusion, the genre may fade out of sight. Unfortunately, although the environments look great, crude adult game elements, a quirky interface, and tedious puzzles result in a game that looks good but lacks the fun-factor. I am sad to say that the best part of this game was finishing it and freeing up the hard drive space for another title. Unless you are an avid fan of adventure games and have no other options, I do not recommend this game. If you do play it, make sure the kids do not wander into the room.
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.