Playing Midnight Fight Express reminds us of Sifu for some reason, even though they’re worlds apart.
While Sifu is a taut, technical fighter with roguelike elements and a cinematic camera, Midnight Fight Express with its isometric view, bite-sized levels and messier, faster-paced combat is more akin to an arcade brawler. But what they do have in common is a mesmerising fluidity, and a combat flow that just sucks you in. They may be very different games, but they both make beating up rooms full of bad guys a rewarding delight.
Simply known as Babyface, your character is a bit of a mystery in Midnight Fight Express. When a large package appears at their door containing a drone, however, one thing becomes clear: they’re easily coerced into action. Whether they’re good or bad at heart soon becomes largely irrelevant; for now, they’re fighting to stop a city from being taken over by a crime-lord, and that’s all that matters.
It’s an endeavour that will have you going toe-to-toe against a myriad of foes across forty levels, and your objective in each one essentially boils down to beating everyone up. With style, if possible. To do that you can strike with your fists and feet, make use of weapons and other environmental options, and turn your enemies’ attacks against them with counters. But much of the challenge here lies in the number of enemies you face. Needless to say, target prioritisation is required.
The combat system ultimately feels like a looser version of that found in the likes of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Press the attack button and a direction and you’ll strike at the appropriate enemy. A couple of upgrades later, and you’ll fly across the screen to launch attacks at enemies further away, too, and easily counter enemies when button prompts appear on-screen.
But unlike in Batman: Arkham Asylum, making mistakes doesn’t feel anywhere near as punishing, at least not on Midnight Fight Express‘ normal difficulty, anyway. Even when the game does wheel out an encounter that feels a tad unfair, generous checkpointing means you can jump back in time and time again without much frustration until you do succeed. Beyond that, you can create your own custom difficulty if you wish, allowing you to make things easier for yourself. And if you’re brave, harder presets are also available.
Related: The Best Fighting Games on PC
What is likely to keep you battling away in Midnight Fight Express, aside from its story which is a little clichéd but intriguing nonetheless, is the feeling of progression. At the end of every level your performance will be assessed, and skill points and cash doled out. Those skill points can be placed in numerous trees, allowing you to develop your combat abilities, while cash can be used to customise the look of your baby-faced pugilist.
Midnight Fight Express isn’t the best looking game out there, with character models in particular looking a little basic. Thanks to the zoomed-out camera, however, it’s not really an issue. And it doesn’t make customising your character any less fun. There are a huge number of clothing options available to unlock and purchase, from hats to shoes, and thanks to a photo mode you can show off your style. What’s really neat is that the end of a level a short gif is also created of one of your finest moments, which can be easily saved and shared at a later date.
Another thing to note about Midnight Fight Express is its sound design: it has a pounding electronic soundtrack that drives the action. But on the flip side, there’s no voice acting which is a bit of a disappointment. And on top of some encounters feeling more unfair than others, you might also get frustrated by the fact that some techniques you unlock arbitrarily don’t work so well on certain enemies.
Overall though, there’s a hell of a lot to like about Midnight Fight Express. While it has a few issues that are likely to bring you out of the experience, the fluidity and brutality of the combat will win you over. This is a game that’s simply a joy to play for the most part, with some neat ideas and a beat-heavy soundtrack thrown in for good measure. If you want to beat up large numbers of goons while feeling like a badass, look no further.