Review for Midnight Girl
Italic’s Midnight Girl unites lovely, detailed graphics and haunting music to present an interactive heist story, in much the same vein as the movie Ocean's Eleven. A simple interface lets the player call the shots as they help Monique, a Parisian cat burglar, meet her idol and learn to live independently in the present rather than hope for a future that may never arrive. The adventure contains only one particularly frustrating aspect – the meager save-game system.
According to its Steam page, “The story, mood, and style of the game are inspired by the city of Paris, Belgian comics and Sixties cinema.” This game brilliantly brings its inspirations to life. The eerie visuals are reminiscent of detailed graphic novel panels, cleverly evoking each scene. There are many locations, including catacombs, a monastery, and a metro station, Daylight infuses Monique’s apartment with energy as Monique runs around preparing for her quest. The music and ominous sound effects enhance the atmosphere, especially the trumpet tune that plays on the title screen. When combined with an expertly animated, rain-soaked meeting between two shadowy characters, its slow theme and melodic notes piqued my curiosity for the rest of the game.
Monique has decided to steal enough money to fly to Chile and see her father, who abandoned her as a child. After a disappointing day, she teams up with her idol to pilfer a valuable item. During the course of these shenanigans, Monique overcomes a series of inventory object puzzles. One that was especially apt – the use of a fireplace poker to open a certain device. The challenges progress from easy at the beginning of the adventure, to difficult at its climax, and return to easy again at the epilogue. This circular progression shows Monique maturing as she practices her skills and nurtures her inner confidence. The choice she makes in the game’s final scenes makes it clear that she has become her own person rather than simply her father’s daughter. Dusk approaches during the epilogue as she returns from her adventure stronger and wiser. The evening bathes the location in moonlight, evoking peace and wisdom with a soupcon of sly mischievousness, as befits an expert thief.
The simple interface made indulging my curiosity as easy as taking candy from a baby. You use the mouse to move the cursor around the screen. Hovering it over a character reveals a black circle with a white speech bubble and left-clicking starts a conversation. Even though the player doesn’t direct the dialog at all, this doesn’t hamper the gameplay. Besides talking to characters, Monique discovers multiple objects during her adventure that she’ll need to complete her objectives. If she can grab an item, a black-and-white hand icon will appear. Clicking on this icon compels Monique to snatch and store it in the bottom left corner of the screen. Clicking on a stored item selects it. You can then attempt to use the object on the various black-and-white dot icons that appear on-screen. Besides acquiring inventory, the hand icon is also used to open doors and drawers. When Monique discovers an object in a drawer, she’ll inform the player. The player will need to click on the hand icon a second time to retrieve the item. This user-friendly interface makes it easy for a novice thief like me to guide Monique through the story.
Midnight Girl would benefit from giving the player the ability to save the game at any time while exploring the various scenarios. I discovered that if I quit the game in the middle of a level, I lost all progress for that level, making it difficult to take breaks and return to the story later. This inability to save during levels is the sole flaw in this lovely jewel of a game.