Midnight Fight Express is the newest game by Humble Games, the game studio built from Humble Bundle. It’s a quick moving brawler that feels like one long non-stop action sequence. You move from area to area, brawling dozens of enemies in an impressive style that is reminiscent of John Wick. While it may invoke a lot of action films, it finds its biggest influences in such series like the Batman Arkham series and Hotline Miami. It’s a thrillride that will get the blood pumping as hard as the bass on the soundtrack.
In Midnight Fight Express (MFH) you are Babyface, a thug for hire who has lost his memory, (a very familiar trope) and is brought back into the fold by a mysterious drone giving him instructions. On this specific night, the city has erupted into chaos as a criminal organization has let loose its goons onto the city to do as much destruction as possible. From here it’s up to Babyface and his drone friend to stop the criminal overlords and put a stop to the chaos.
This all makes for some exciting action sequences but does very little to actually reel me in. In fact, there are lengthy bouts of exposition via this companion drone that stops all adrenaline fueled action in its tracks. It’s never mid fight but it definitely pumps the brakes when I just want to keep moving. The game itself encourages constant movement and action so to slam on the brakes feels counterintuitive. That along with such an antiquated plot device such as amnesiac badass mercenary with a Manchurian Candidate complex. Feels a little too familiar to what we’ve seen in the past.
Outside of that, the gameplay view is a top down tilt shift perspective and characters are distinct but lack a lot of detail. That’s all okay because the real standouts are the gameplay and soundtrack. The combat is single button punches but with blocks, parries and counterattacks on separate buttons. Punches feel magnetic and flow from enemy to enemy seamlessly, but you aren’t only beholden to your fists, oh no. There are guns, tasers, and all sorts of weapons at your disposal to find amid the level or from enemies themselves. There are also larger items that can be thrown like chairs and boxes. Additionally there’s a magnum that can have specialty bullets, so there’s a lot of room for variability.
The impressive part is how well everything combines together. Moving from a punch to a counterattack to throwing a knife to hitting someone with a chair ebbs and flows as easy as a stream of consciousness. Within a few missions, you’ll find a satisfying groove that just clicks. Between missions there are skill trees that add further mechanics and adjustments to your moves that are welcome bonuses to a fantastic combat system.
The action is punctuated by a rock solid dance electro soundtrack by Noisescream that bumps heavy on the bass. Not since Hotline Miami have I ever downloaded a soundtrack and this is one I plan on picking up very soon. It pumps you up and gets you so ready to kick some serious butt while also accentuating everything going on, on screen. A good soundtrack should always be an addition and never detract from the proceedings and this is nothing short of perfect for the mechanics.
The missions are generally short bursts which is perfect for the Nintendo Switch’s pick up and play form factor. While combat is a main focus, the game does well to vary up the missions with chase scenes, vehicle combat, interesting boss battles and even some unique fight encounters that make for truly memorable moments. I won’t spoil these but there’s a lot of comedy and dynamic fights that play two sides against each other. As a bonus, once you complete a mission, new challenges are unlocked to up your overall score of the level so there’s a lot of room for replayability. There’s plenty of character customization as well, to make your own personal fighter.
Midnight Fight Express is a very elegant package that is as simple or as deep as you want. For those wanting a simple brawler, the combo mechanics with weapons and environments are so satisfying. For those that want depth and technique, there’s the grading system with bonus challenges to perfect your runs. The soundtrack blasts your ears with grimy hype up beats that rocks the combat even more than it does on its own. There’s a very obvious issue with a bland story that puts a halt to the game but there’s a lot to enjoy here. Midnight Fight Express is a fantastic game that plays great, sounds fantastic, if only it would get out of its own way with the story.