The Midnight Sanctuary – Review
Follow Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: CAVYHOUSE
Publisher: Carpe Fulgur, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc., UNTIES
Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Tested on: PC

The Midnight Sanctuary – Review

Site Score
6.2
Good: Interesting plot
Bad: Not really a game, though visual novels could have game elements
User Score
7.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)

The Midnight Sanctuary is a game developed by CAVYHOUSE, if you want more information on them, be sure to use the ‘.net’ extension and not the ‘.org’ one as that’ll link you to a site revolving around guinea pig rescue, which is entirely different from what CAVYHOUSE – the game developer – does. They are into making very interesting games, to say the least. The Midnight Sanctuary also has this weird vibe to it and it is most assuredly not something you want to play while high on drugs.

Story

The story of The Midnight Sanctuary is interesting from the get-go. At least to Western standards. One thing Western people don’t know is that being a Christian in the Eastern world wasn’t exactly tolerated until recently. Christians weren’t welcome in Japan and were heavily prosecuted. Christianity was actually completely banned until 1873 when the Meiji government lifted the ban. It’s something you learn and not something you’d think about when Christianity is the modus operandi of the West. The Midnight Sanctuary is about a village called Daiusu, where Christianity is the main belief system. Hamomoru Tachibana has been invited to visit the village and help the population on how to make it more friendly towards tourists to help grow the town. Things seem rather normal, but soon enough weird stuff starts to happen and all is not what it seems as the story progresses. You get this eerie feeling that not all is being told and you start to question the motives of the people involved.

The story is told through dialogue and it’s a decent enough mix between show and tell. The game has Japanese roots, and this makes it so that the characters involved tend to give giant exposition dumps at a time, but that’s not entirely the case with The Midnight Sanctuary. There is quite a lot of information to wrap your head around, but that’s mitigated by the moments where things actually happen.

Graphics

Earlier it was mentioned that The Midnight Sanctuary shouldn’t be played while being intoxicated. The reason for this being is that the aesthetics are bonkers. The main characters are normal enough, but everything else has a different visual, there’s a logo that’s layered underneath, and every unimportant character is comprised of it. Whenever they move it stays there, so the character shifts, but the layer does not and this make it both very mesmerizing and very, very disorienting and almost nauseating. It also makes things very distracting but it has to be said it’s a very interesting different take to visuals.

The animation on the characters is decent enough, seeing as the visual novel is actually fully animated and not a set of stills you scroll through. The size of the characters is very consistent. They are all the same size. So every person in the village is the same height. Very convenient for the clothes shop owner.

Sound

It’s always fun for a game to have voice acting. The Midnight Sanctuary indulges the player with this. This has been nicely done, the audio is crisp and the voice acting is good. It’s Japanese audio so subbed anime fans will surely enjoy it. Although it has to be said that the voice actors, while competent sound rather samey to the mainstream anime characters. This causes memories of other things to pop into your head while listening to the characters babble back and forth.

The music is a really nice touch and flows perfectly between transitions to set the scene. At one point a rather ‘poppy’ song might play and when the mood changes this ominous tune will play. It makes the intent of the scene clear and is well done.

Gameplay

The Midnight Sanctuary is an indie visual novel. The gameplay is the most bare-bones you’ll probably ever encounter. You click on the map on places you want to visit and that’s when the story plays. If you want you can let the conversation auto play or you can set this to off and take your time reading the text and press enter. That’s all there’s to it. You click, you listen and you watch. The developers could have done more with it by actually giving characters a choice on what they say and have different reactions on the situation. Now it’s labelled as a game, but it’s even less substantial than a walking simulator. So there’s no interaction where there should be any and The Midnight Sanctuary is called a game when it’s only barely so.

It’s not like the developer isn’t known for having games with multiple endings you get by replaying it.  Why not have it be more like those games isn’t clear.

Conclusion

The Midnight Sanctuary is trippy, has great audio, but shouldn’t be called a game. Why it’s on consoles and PC is beyond me, seeing as visual novels on these platforms often have more interaction from the player. So the developers missed out on making the game something more memorable by giving the player actual agency in the events. Which is a bit of a shame because if more actual ‘game’ elements were to have been added this could have become a cult hit.

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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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The Midnight Sanctuary - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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First game ever was Crash Bandicoot 3 Warped, ever since then, gaming has been something that I've gravitated to. Reading's fun but not as interactive. Always up for a bout of online multiplayer. If that multiplayer is co-op. So if you are up for a friendly co-op session, hit me up. Rahenik's the name to search on PSN.

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