Path of the Midnight Sun makes its grand release after an interesting journey to completion. Originally a Rom hack for Fire Emblem released in 2014, developer Alfred Kamon decided to turn it into a full-fledged game after it became popular among Fire Emblem fans. These same fans then helped it become a successful Kickstarter in 2019. Despite projecting to release at the end of 2020, fans finally get to experience this mashup of genres with its release on Steam.
Path of the Midnight Sun Official Trailer
I went into Path of the Midnight Sun not sure what to expect. I found it during the Steam Next Fest in September 2022. The character art and story premise forced me to add it to my wishlist without ever playing the demo. Since receiving this review copy, I’ve played the game for just over four hours. While I noticed the game’s shortcomings due to the small team and inexperience, the story keeps me playing and I want to see this through to the credits.
Path of the Midnight Sun may originate from Fire Emblem, but it made notable adjustments over development to be its own style of game. Path of the Midnight Sun brings together two genres to tell its story, Visual Novel and JRPG. It boasts a lot of voice acting which helps break up the amount of text you will be reading, but we are talking about a lot of dialogue. You should expect to still read quite a bit as you progress through the adventure.
I loved the look of Path of the Midnight Sun most of the time. Kamon and the team did a great job with the characters and settings. The game uses an animated 2D design for most scenes with the occasional still photo. These are some of my favorite party designs in recent memory with Faratras Hoikade standing out among the pack. I say I loved it most of the time because I do feel the portraits in combat do not display the same level of quality as the rest of the game, more specifically, the 2D animations when landing a critical hit or a special move. I’m not quite sure what may be the reason, but It felt off compared to other aspects of the game.
The early chapters are told through the perspective of Faratras or Sir Suzaku Orniéres depending on the chapter. Both personalities are vastly different from the other. Suzaku is the captain of holy knights who happens to have lost his memories. Faratras is a princess forced to carry the burden of being the person tasked with trapping a great evil known as the Demon King inside her.
I enjoy both characters so far, with neither standing out over the other. Suzaku’s humor and lack of knowledge made me chuckle out loud at times. Faratras brings a more stoic presence to her as she must balance her feelings to keep the Demon King at bay. The writing does stray from this at times in the third chapter, but not enough where I feel they lost the central focus of her character. Much of this story isn’t groundbreaking. It leans into typical fantasy tropes that some may find redundant. I, on the other hand, welcomed the tale and felt the presentation kept it refreshing.
One aspect the players must focus on in the story is the characters’ sanity and hunger. These play important roles in decisions in game as well as combat. Get too hungry and you will lose sanity. Lose too much sanity and you will deal less and take more damage. It also may impact how a character reacts to you or your options to certain dialogue choices. You can improve your sanity by eating food found through various vendors or by selecting certain dialogue choices.
Path of the Midnight Sun uses turn-based combat, similar to retro RPGs like the original Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star. The player makes their attack selection for all party members before seeing it play out. The order of combat is determined by the character’s speed stat which can be manipulated through equipment or skills. The early chapter battles felt balanced with some chapter end battles turning up the difficulty. However, if you balance between attacks, heals, and defends you should come out triumphant. I do feel there’s some missing sound effects in combat that would make it feel more alive. While some moves feel powerful, others feel more flat. This left me feeling mixed about combat the further I went.
The looming threat over your party’s adventure isn’t the big boss to fight, it’s time. Every action takes a predetermined amount of time. Fighting battles, traversing the lands, even shopping for armor impacts the time in the game. Just like us, time of day can really impact how your party reacts to your decisions, how sane you feel, or even force you into a Game Over. This hasn’t been a problem in my quest so far, but it does make me conscious to be quick and confident with my decisions
Aside from some bugs during my play, which Alfred Kamon quickly addressed upon notification, I enjoyed what Path of the Midnight Sun is presenting. Time will tell if it will pay off in the long run, but it’s gripped me enough to keep going further. The team recently announced a number of bug fixes, quality of life improvements, and roadmap of future updates that shows this isn’t a ship it and forget it title. That’s a welcoming sign for those looking to jump into this indie RPG.
If we had to score it now, Press Start would give Path of the Midnight Sun a 7/10.
You can pick up the game on Steam by going here.