Indie video games have been a boon for the industry, allowing a surplus of creativity to grace our libraries. A visually stylized side-scroller called 36 Fragments of Midnight was developed by Petite Games, with Ratalaika Games publishing the title on select platforms. It’s important to note that I did not play the recent Nintendo Switch release, I instead played the recent Nintendo 3DS rendition of the game. The title has also graced the PlayStation Vita and Steam.

36 FRAGMENTS OF MIDNIGHT REVIEW

Owing to the game’s title, 36 star fragments have been dispersed throughout the world, and its nameless inhabitants have enlisted our hero, Midnight, to retrieve them. It’s a simple story that’s quickly communicated at the outset of the game, along with the Midnight’s controls. Once all of the titular pieces have been obtained, Midnight needs to return to his starting point to complete his adventure. When you’ve successfully returned, you’re given the people’s thanks and a gold star.

Midnight, an illuminated white square, is easy to maneuver. His movements are handled through the 3DS’s Circle Pad or D-Pad, and jumping is mapped to the A Button. Pressing the A Button while airborne will allow for a double jump, which will be required to collects some of the star fragments. The only other button given a purpose, the Start Button, will automatically whisk the player back to the title screen upon being pressed.

Aesthetically, the game – as well as our protagonist – shines. Midnight is visually distinct throughout the game, from his bright physique to the afterglow trailing his movements, meaning you’ll always have a clear look at where he is situated. Black and shades of blue compose most of the game’s pallet, with the scenery in the background, namely different layers of grass, getting darker as players descend the map. Likewise, the blue sky adorns the upmost layer.

Objects in the foreground are black, though the shapes are visually distinct enough to determine which decorations – specifically spikes and saw blades – are harmful to Midnight. Moreover, white lasers momentarily shoot from preset areas which, like the other two hazards, will instantaneously kill Midnight. White specks, presumably snow, fall from the heavens, though this detail is only for show. The fragments, however, are a shimmering yellow, making them cleanly identifiable.

36 Fragments of Midnight is procedurally generated, meaning the game’s six-layer biosphere will take on a different arrangement every time you play. However, while that’s a selling point to inspire replayability, the game itself discourages it. The game’s challenges will appear unaltered every time you boot up the game, so while their specific positions in relation to each other changes, they’ll pose no threat once you’ve mastered them. Additionally, while not a deal breaker, the camera becomes jerky when you transition from one level to another.

Moreover, the game’s obstacles aren’t particularly original nor are they exceptionally fun or difficult to conquer. This is mitigated the first time you play, as the game can easily be cleared in 15 minutes or less, but replays will not present you with anything you haven’t already seen.

36 Fragments of Midnight is minimalistic in terms of its presentation, symbolizing the dearth of content on offer. The 3DS’s bottom screen keeps count of your current fragment tally, and the game keeps track of your highest record. Musically, there’s very little to speak of, with the ambient sound of the wind playing through the majority of your escapades. A somber piano jingle is overlaid on the title screen and accentuates the gameplay on occasion, however.

36 Fragments of Midnight isn’t an especially poor game at its absolute core, with Midnight being a responsive character to control. Unfortunately, there’s a trifling amount of substance within the game, rendering it worth one run at most. Its cheap price is nice, but the money would be better spent on a more realized piece of software.