Midnight Protocol from LuGus Studio and Iceberg Interactive is a game that will grip you from the minute you launch it. The entire game is played using only your keyboard and surprisingly, this works ridiculously well.
So is Midnight Protocol worth playing through? That honestly really depends on how much patience you have and we’ll get into why shortly.
In Midnight Protocol, players will take on the role of “Data”, a doxxed hacktivist that’s been caught, imprisoned and now released on parole. As “Data” you will get back in touch with your hacker friends and seek revenge against the person or group that outed you in the first place. The plot might sound cliche but the way it’s told throughout Midnight Protocol via emails and other messages is ridiculously well done.
Players will learn more about the story and the game’s hacker-centric dystopian nightmare world through emails and other intel that shows up on the regular. Playing as “Data” you’ll be brought back up to speed with hacking via the game’s early missions. These serve as the tutorial and teach you the turn-based mechanics involved with hacking into systems in Midnight Protocol.
The gameplay in Midnight Protocol involves typing commands to intrude further into a network of nodes. Each level effectively has a timer in place in the form of a “Trace” and players will take turns hacking into a network. Each turn lets you use a specific command from a list of predefined commands available to you while you are on a node. For example, you can enter the move command to move to a different node or you can interface with a node to perform a specific action. If you are on a financial node, interfacing will start draining credits from the node. If you’re on a data node, interfacing with start downloading data.
Gameplay therefore involves using your turns in a network of nodes to interact with the nodes and complete a specific objective before being traced. As the game progresses this becomes significantly harder with more obstacles and problems being thrown your way. At first, you won’t encounter any hassles at all with nodes being unprotected. Soon though you’ll start encountering Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics, commonly known as ICE. ICE really complicates matters because levels may contain ICE at random and the only way to find out if there is actually ICE blocking your pathway is to either detect it using a “sniffer” command or to get caught by it by trying to move through it.
Levels in Midnight Protocol become an extremely tense affair with the Trace meter being ever present and pressuring you to complete your objectives quickly. Later levels introduce an even more problematic factor to consider and this comes in the form of a SysOp. A SysOp or system operator is extremely detrimental to your progress and can fill your Trace meter super fast with a scan if you are detected by them. Players will need to make use of all their abilities to evade a SysOp while trying to achieve their goal in a network.
Luckily, Midnight Protocol allows players to buy and equip various upgrades which they can use in a network to help them achieve their goals. These upgrades are unlocked by means of racking up White Hat, Grey Hat or Black Hat hacker points and then purchasing the upgrade with credits. White Hat, Grey Hat and Black Hat points correspond to moral choices in the game. Hacking into a financial node and stealing credits in a mission where all you were supposed to do is obtain some data will net you some Black Hat points. Expose something corrupt or illicit in a mission? White Hat hacker points will be allocated to you.
Everything is not cut and dry in Midnight Protocol though. The game’s story deals with some incredibly well written and intriguing plot points which will keep you coming back for more. Your actions have consequences and you can see this felt in the game where specific characters will reply to you differently based on your actions.
While you are in a network, players will therefore have to make use of their equipped programmes, plan their route through a network, interface with nodes of importance and get out. This has to be done while avoiding ICE, SysOps and other hazards. You will end up failing quite a lot in Midnight Protocol but thankfully, before things get out of hand, you can always make use of a “Rollback” function which instantly restarts a level. This can benefit you sometimes with ICE being randomly placed elsewhere on the network but it’s not something that should be relied upon too much. Some players might find this frustrating but it’s a part of the gameplay experience that the developers seemed to have opted to keep in place on purpose. The turn-based gameplay might also put off those that lack patience since you need to wait for SysOps to take their turn or wait for your own turn to complete if you’ve deployed offensive hacking programmes against ICE.
Graphically, Midnight Protocol looks great sticking to UI elements that perfectly suit the type of game it is. The network nodes and map have an eye-catching visual flair to them despite being rather minimalist. ICE looks gorgeous, especially the Scorpions and Walls and so too do your own commands such as Dagger, Harpoon and Jackhammer. Midnight Protocol absolutely nailed its visuals.
Unfortunately there isn’t any voice acting in Midnight Protocol with the story being told entirely through text inside and outside of missions. Visuals aid in the storytelling with lots of flashing lights, glitch effects and more. If you suffer from epilepsy or are sensitive to flashing lights, this game might affect you somewhat so please heed the warning at the start of the game. There’s quite a lot of this throughout. The soundtrack also helps with the background music and themes adding to the game’s atmosphere. Players can also change their UI from the menu and play a small mini-game known as Hacker Chess, which is quite a nice time waster.
Overall, Midnight Protocol is an extremely solid indie title that dips into the futuristic cyber dystopia the world is currently barreling towards. Hacking into fridges for information has never been more fun and we honestly highly recommend Midnight Protocol if you’re a fan of games that involve strategy and that make you think. There is a demo available on Steam too if you’re on the fence but this is a title we wholeheartedly can recommend. Give it a try and see how great it is for yourself.
A review code for Midnight Protocol was provided to Gameblur by the Publisher
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- The entire game's aesthetic
- Intriguing story
- The soundtrack
- Interesting premise and ideas
- Turn-based gameplay might annoy some gamers