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The Midnight Sanctuary Switch review - "A seriously enthralling story"

For: Switch

One of the strangest visual novels to grace the Switch so far

Product: The Midnight Sanctuary | Publisher: Sony Unties | Format: Switch | Genre: Simulation | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
The Midnight Sanctuary Switch, thumbnail 1
The Midnight Sanctuary is a very, very odd game. Take even a glance at some video or screenshots and you'll understand.

Visually, it's bonkers. The story goes full weird mode within half an hour and never lets up. Once it's run its two hours, you'll have more questions than answers.

It's also a surprisingly difficult game to review, thanks in part to an almost complete lack of interaction - this is a seriously hardcore visual novel experience. But we shall try to give it a fair shake regardless.

Keep an eye out

Your role in The Midnight Sanctuary is that of a nameless, mostly mute person who acts as a guide for Hamamoru, who is visiting the town of Daiusu to investigate its history and folklore.

At least, that's the initial premise. By the end of the first chapter you'll have met a cast of weird, uncomfortable characters with their own hidden agendas, and from there all hell breaks loose.

The Midnight Sanctuary Switch Screenshot - Hamomoru In The Cathedral

You have no influence over these events, however. As mentioned before, this is hardcore visual novel - your only point of interaction is to choose which snippet of the story you see next.

An in-game map pops up between cutscenes to let you select the next location to visit, you watch something happen, and then it's back to the map screen. That's the whole game.

Yet it's unfair to mark the game down for a lack of interactivity - it's a visual novel, this is its entire purpose. So, let's focus on the important points: the visuals and the story.

Religion is... bad?

Visually, The Midnight Sanctuary is stunning. Low-poly models are coated with block colours, giving the whole thing a very strange, hazy feel like everything your experiencing is in some kind of dream world.

The villagers of the town all wear cloaks that seem to be non-existent, instead providing a window into a gorgeous, complex piece of art beneath the game world which you can peek at through their clothes.

The Midnight Sanctuary Switch Review - Hamomoru Asks The Question We're All Thinking

It all plays into the bizarre, uncomfortable scenario you find yourself in - which, honestly, it's nigh-on impossible to talk about without bringing in spoilers.

It's a tale that weaves treasure hunting, religion, spirits, and cult-like elements together into a beautifully strange narrative. It doesn't so much twist and turn as it does slam alarmingly into the next weird moment with reckless abandon.

That can be slightly jarring - particularly when you're thrown into a bleak and potentially upsetting scene out of nowhere - but it suits the strange world you're in quite well.

Minutes to midnight

Largely, that's down to a wonderful translation job by two-man outfit Carpe Fulgur, which does a remarkable job of making sense of a game so odd you may be surprised it even made it out of Japan.

At the end of the day, The Midnight Sanctuary isn't going to convert you into a visual novel lover overnight. It knows what it wants to do - tell a story - and focuses entirely on that alone.

If you don't mind a total lack of interaction, then there's a seriously enthralling story to be found in here. Throw in some fantastically weird visuals and you've got a game you're unlikely to forget anytime soon.
The Midnight Sanctuary Switch review - "A seriously enthralling story"
Reviewer photo
Ric Cowley | 4 October 2018
The Midnight Sanctuary is fantastically bizarre both visually and narratively, but it won't convert you to visual novels
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