Subway Midnight Review: I Hear that Train a’ Comin’
Developed by Bubby Darkstar
Published by Aggro Crab
Available on PC
Subway Midnight is a bit of a big deal, yeah? I’d never heard of it until developer Bubby Darkstar made a tweet saying the game was finished, and they just needed a publisher. 20,000+ likes later, and the indie publishing community was falling over each other to make an offer. In the end, after Subway Midnight was picked up by Aggro Crab, people finally got to check out the game. So, how is it?
Subway Midnight is simple, yet refreshing. You are on the subway. The characters are definitely charming. Their almost paper cut-out appearances look like they’d fit right in somewhere on Cartoon Network. The lack of dialogue is made up for with expressive body language from all the characters. A wave, a shrug, a smile; these are the actions that the characters trade out for talking, and it works excellently. The art style gives itself fully to this manner of expressiveness.
While the characters are of course a huge part of the game, the real star is the subway itself. Each car is different, with roughly a hundred in total. Some may be regular subway cars, while others are upside down, or leaking goo through the windows, or underwater, or filled with laser traps. It is a constantly shifting, often surprising place. You can’t have a game without some type of interactivity though. The meat of Subway Midnight is solving puzzles. Simple button puzzles, mild physics puzzles. These help you move forward.
You’re definitely not alone on this trip. The subway is populated by ghosts. That’s right, ghosts. The wandering dead. They’re not really scary, though. Most of the time, the ghosts are charming and a bit bittersweet. Subway Midnight provides you with ghosts that, in some cases, don’t seem to like being ghosts. You’ll be helping them find closure, in your own way. Missing posters throughout the subway will key you into who you might be running into next. My favorite was probably Colin. I think his name was Colin. You’ll enter a room, with a tv, and a ghost sitting on a couch.
The game at this point completely changes. You’ll enter the TV and be in “Colin’s Game”. It’s a first-person collection game. Up to this point, there was an established gameplay style, with a few adjustments. Colin’s Game is a completely different style of the game altogether. It is jarring and unexpected. By this point in the game, you should be used to some strangeness, but a complete style change? It’s frankly impressive. Each ghost brings something to the table, and definitely some stuff I don’t want to spoil, but my personal favorite was definitely Colin.
I’d be out of line if I didn’t talk about the music. Have you ever played a game where the music fit so well it felt like it wasn’t even there? The music of Subway Midnight becomes part of the game itself. It isn’t a secondary attribute. Without the music, there is no Subway Midnight. It’s ever-present and organic. It matches everything you do. If you turn off the music you would be lost; adrift on a subway wondering where the magic went. This is how important the soundtrack is to this game. I hope with the game’s success, I’ll be able to buy a vinyl down the line.
Subway Midnight, as it stands, isn’t going to change the landscape of the game. That’s fine. It is competent, enjoyable, and a bit spooky. It shows a willingness to just be goofy and scary. It doesn’t take itself too seriously., and you shouldn’t either. It is, in my opinion, the ideal horror game. It is short – clocking in at just over 2 hours if you’re bad at games like me – it is charming, and it is fairly simple. It is a game for everyone. Anyone could pick up Subway Midnight and enjoy themselves. In a world where every AAA game is explosions and famous voice actors, Subway Midnight hits at the heart of the indie scene. It tells a story well, in a short amount of time, with just the right amount of oomph. We need more games like Subway Midnight.