Keeping up with Indie September is another Malaysian-made game – Fires At Midnight. This game is a recent release by Persona Theory, a Malaysian game dev company.
If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I’m not a big fan of having to read lots in video games (like in Paper Mario or Snack World). It’s sort of why I don’t typically go for the “interactive narrative” experience. Fires At Midnight is the exception today.
In Fires At Midnight, you’ll burst into flames if you make love with someone who you don’t love. Play as the budding photographer, Yun, and later as his girlfriend, Chitra. Will they stay together, or will they burn? That all depends on you.
No seriously, it depends on your actions as Yun. I didn’t expect it at first, but all your actions have consequences – some more severe than others.
I appreciate that Fires At Midnight bases itself in Malaysia and it doesn’t even attempt to hide that fact. There are Malaysian bits and bobs all over the place – the “old newspaper” recording in the background, the metal grate door, the nasi lemak bungkus. Though unlike No Straight Roads, you’ll get no character speaking in Malaysian.
The story of Fires At Midnight may be set in 1999 but it does hit quite close to home. What it’s like to suffer with mental illness. How living lustfully can burn you. The difficulties of living during a global pandemic. The difficulties of sustaining a loving relationship. All these experiences enjoyed with old-school Windows, and penis Minesweeper.
Within the game, there are two realities. One being regular boring “real life” and the other is the “Second Layer” – how Yun and Chitra truly perceive the world around them. Because of this… you might not want to play Fires At Midnight in front of your parents, or in a co-working space. There are a lot of penises.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I’m not the biggest fan of games that are too heavily text-based. This is all text, albeit with beautifully hand-drawn art.
While there are a few mini-games scattered throughout the gameplay that cut-through the monotonous narrative experience, it becomes difficult for me to concentrate on the story as a whole when the game still bugs out from time-to-time. Plus, there were a little too many stagnant spots in the game where I had absolutely no idea how to progress – there weren’t any indications of where I should go or look to move forward in the story. Especially while you’re on the computer as Yun.
Love on fire
This is a short and sweet review, mostly because I have no clue how much more about point-and-clicks, especially one as story-heavy as Fires At Midnight, without spoiling the story. It was a decent break from the action-adventures, for sure, but the game isn’t without it’s drawbacks which ultimately took some points away in my book.
Fires At Midnight was a curious game that I’m happy to have played, but if I’m super honest – I won’t go through it again and again to discover the other endings. You’ll have to do that on your own. Partly because I don’t have the time, partly because I’m a bloody impatient gamer and I have no patience to go through all that text again.
Blaise gib dis game…
But otherwise, great job Saqina and co.! I look forward to the next one.
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