[Beyond PlayStation] The Midnight Sanctuary Review
The Midnight Sanctuary from Cavyhouse and Unties is a bizarre and quirky visual novel worth checking out. Find out why in our The Midnight Sanctuary review!
In The Midnight Sanctuary, you are tasked with guiding protagonist Hamoruru Tachinaba, who is visiting Daiusu Village after being invited over to catalog the traditions of this area that has been isolated from the rest of Japan for a while now. It has been this way because it embraced the Christian religion at a time when said practices were banned from Japan. Nowadays the village, which has a new church that was recently built, is looking to modernize, and for this, they need to first take a trip down memory lane to see where they have been to be able to understand where they will be going. This is why Jyun Daiusu, the son of the village chief who oversees the day-to-day of the town. You’ll also meet Pastor Kurosu Okada, who is in charge of the church.
The game is fully voiced acted in Japanese with English subtitles, so as long as you don’t mind not having the dialogue presented with English language voices, you’ll be off to a good start. The art style for the game is going to be a second hurdle to some players, as characters and locations are presented with a minimalist art style that might feel a bit flat at times. On top of this, the game has villagers presented as cutouts that have no distinctive features per se other than they let you see the image that you saw at the start of your adventure as the background for the game’s main screen… and you’re going to be seeing that image a lot.
Things at the village are not as they seem, and you will soon realize that this peculiar feeling you’re having is there for a reason. As it turns out, the faith of those in Daiusu Village has actually shifted past Christianity, to center on someone that everyone in town refers to as the Saint. They pray every day that they can have it visit the village once again so that they can witness its miracles. It seems that the Saint helped the villagers survive during harsher times, feeding them so that they could carry on. You can imagine how things change once someone shows up in town who the villagers feel is the Saint who has come to perform miracles, this sending the village into a frenzy
Two game design choices stand out for The Midnight Sanctuary in that, unlike other visual novels you might have played before in which you learn more about the characters you interact with as you progress in the story, the characters for this game feel a bit… samey. None of them stand out, and you probably won’t remember them after you’ve completed the adventure. The other one has to do with the overall gameplay loop. You will get to select an area of interest from an overall map, and once you are taken there, you will interact with a character or two for a few minutes, and then be sent back to the map to select a new area.
The Midnight Sanctuary is a game that is definitely very different from everything else you can find on the Nintendo Switch. It certainly has a unique look, but it’s not one that is going to make all players happy due to its rather flat overall feel. The design choice for how villagers are presented, as well as the fact that they don’t have names and are only referred to as, for example, Villager Cook or even Villager X, Y or Z, does not make you care about them, which ends up hurting the experience. The way you play the game in small chunks with some loading in between makes this game feels longer than the handful of hours it takes to complete it, as you take on a visual novel that is literally that, as you won’t get to interact with the world other than to move on to the next piece of dialogue during conversations. There are no branching paths, and no puzzles to solve, so what you see is very much what you get.
This Midnight Sanctuary review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Unties.