Midnight Fight Express Review: Don’t sleep on this beat ’em up

Jacob Dzwinel’s debut action game is one that hits well above its weight class.

by Jeremy Cheong

While I am not a fan of movies based on video games for obvious reasons, Midnight Fight Express by developer Jacob Dzwinel and Humble Games feels like the perfect inspiration for a fun action movie starring the likes of Donnie Yen, Iko Uwais or Scott Adkins. It probably won’t win a lot of awards but it will end up becoming one of those movies that constantly makes the list of must-watch martial arts or action movies.

The reason why I say this is because Midnight Fight Express clearly draws inspiration from classic action flicks with its over-the-top story, brutal yet fluid fight scenes where the odds are always stacked against the protagonist, and a soundtrack that will get your adrenaline pumping and heart racing.

If this combo sounds like a fun time to you, then read on to find out more about why I think Midnight Fight Express is worthy of your time–and dime.

Story of hits and misses

Midnight Fight Express’ overarching story feels like something I have seen before in a movie or TV series. You control an amnesiac known as Babyface who spends most of the game’s runtime being interrogated by two detectives as he recounts the events that led him to be arrested.

These events span 40 stages with a large portion of them being flashbacks. Things kick off when Babyface receives a mysterious delivery that contains a talking drone unironically named Droney. With Droney by his side giving him instructions and tips, Babyface then heads off into the city to take down members of a criminal organisation with plans to take over the city via nefarious means.

Could you at least give me some clothes first before interrogating me?

Personally, I really liked how the story starts off and how it fleshes out Babyface’s past, his connection to the events of the game and his relationship with his talking drone. However, as the story progresses, it gets muddled with elements of sci-fi and even horror thrown into the mix. So clearly, not a story grounded in reality. It’s over the top, but unfortunately, it’s very predictable as well. You will probably end up figuring out the story halfway through the game.

Another minor gripe I do have with Midnight Fight Express is the storytelling mechanic: the entirety of it is done through text dialogues without any voiceovers. While this isn’t entirely bad, some dialogues happen midway through a stage, which does sort of jerk you out of the action and whatever momentum you may have built up. So instead of flowing like water, you might end up crashing instead in the next segment.

Well, I sure didn’t see this cameo happening in a 2022 game.

Finally, while I do like it when developers throw in easter eggs, parodies and references to other games, movies and popular memes, it can sometimes come off heavyhanded. In Midnight Fight Express’ case, they are hit or miss. I chuckled when I saw references to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Hotline Miami, Netflix’s Daredevil, The Warriors and Fight Club. I also groaned at certain meme references while some just flew over my head.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

So while Midnight Fight Express’ story is a little slapdash, what it really excels in is the fight mechanics. If you are a fan of movies that utilise mixed martial arts instead of traditional kung fu such as Donnie Yen’s Flashpoint, SPL: Sha Po Lang (Kill Zone), Iko Uwais’ The Raid 1 and 2 or any of Scott Adkins movies, then Midnight Fight Express will hit the spot for you.

The moves pulled off by Babyface and enemies are motion captured so they look fluid and realistic. Punch and kicks are weighty, and combined with the bone-crunching sound effects, really sell the brutality and pain delivered with every strike you land. Clearly, a lot of love has gone into the motion capture as not only do you have hand-to-hand combat moves but also close-quarters combat with melee weapons. What’s more, nothing feels rehashed and every style and weapon used feels distinct.

This is your last stop on the Midnight Fight Express, sir.

Unlike classic beat ’em ups where you can just button mash to get through a stage, Midnight Fight Express utilises a system that is similar to the Batman Arkham series and the recently released Sifu. Much like real-life combat, it is all about timing and precision. Knowing when to strike and what moves to use will see you coming out of a battle unscathed. Just mashing the attack button isn’t enough. And just like the aforementioned games, you also have to have great reflexes as the window for counters and parries flashes by in a split second.

This is also incredibly important as you are graded after each stage. Your total score is derived from the variety of the moves you use, the time you take to complete a stage, the number of challenges you complete and if you died or not. The higher the score and rank, the more money you get to unlock new cosmetics.

One of the things I do like about Midnight Fight Express’ take on levelling up and progression is that you will have to go through all 40 stages to unlock all the skills. It is quite nicely done as it somewhat shows how Babyface is slowly getting the hang of fighting again and recalling the moves he had in his arsenal.

Well at least you can’t say the challenges are boring right?

After completing each stage at least once, you will then unlock challenges for you to complete. These range from simple things such as killing X number of enemies with counters or getting through a stage without using guns, to more complicated trials such as finding a certain item and taking it with you to the end of the stage or getting enemies killed by friendly fire.

For achievement hunters and completionists, it is advisable that you go back to these challenges later because certain ones will require you to have specific skills unlocked. Plus, completing these challenges will only unlock new cosmetics and game modifiers or cheats, so you aren’t missing out on core gameplay experiences. Since we are on the subject of cosmetics, you can customise Babyface’s appearance to be a badass or as goofy as you like since cosmetics don’t add to stats or provide gameplay advantages.

Flurry of sweet finishing touches

To wrap up, I have to mention that Midnight Fight Express follows a very linear path. You are dropped into a stage and are required to make it to the end, where you either face a boss or a very challenging fight. You can complete most stages in less than 10 minutes (or 5 minutes if you ‘git gud’). While you do have challenges to complete, there are no branching paths or side missions to complete.

The monotony is broken up every once in a while with stages that don’t require you to engage in hand-to-hand combat. There are a few vehicle chase sequences where you have to pursue an enemy or outrun enemies. There is also a horde mode homage where you have to survive by killing enemies with guns. While it is nice to have these setups, I found the vehicle chase sequences to be very hard and frustrating, which points to another little niggle–uneven difficulty. Some bosses also use incredibly cheap tactics, so it can get very rage-quit inducing. Luckily the checkpoint system usually has you respawn right before a boss fight.

Nothing like a midnight ride after smashing a ton of skulls.

To further spice up the level to level excitement, stages take place in a wide variety of environments that are intricately designed, such as neon-filled nightclubs, seedy back alleys, dank sewers and abandoned subways and more. Most of these stages are also packed with environmental objects such as trash cans, propane tanks, tables, etc that you can use to your advantage during fights by kicking or throwing them at enemies. Do be warned that enemies can also use them against you.

To tie it all up into a neat package is of course the bass-heavy electro soundtrack that is bound to get the adrenaline pumping. I found a lot of it very reminiscent and similar to the soundtrack of Cyberpunk 2077 and John Wick. It just makes you want to take part in brutal combat, kick-ass and smash heads.

Midnight Fight Express is just a really well-made beat ’em up that I highly recommend to fans of martial arts and action movies. Plus, after each stage, you can even create a GIF of your most awesome fight sequence and share it with your friends.


  • Banger of a soundtrack
  • Packed with pop-culture references
  • Addictive combat and fight mechanics
  • Stages can be completed very quickly
  • High replayability value


  • Forgettable and predictable story
  • Some very frustrating levels
  • Plot dialogues break the flow of action
  • 7/10
    Midnight Fight Express - 7/10

Midnight Fight Express

Graphics ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐
Plot ✅✅✅✅✅☐☐☐☐☐
Gameplay ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐
Addictiveness ✅✅✅✅✅✅✅✅☐☐

Midnight Fight Express may not have the most intriguing storyline but like many action-centric movies or TV series, you don’t play it for the plot but for the fluid and satisfying combat enhanced by the adrenaline-pumping soundtrack. Just be prepared for some fairly cringey writing and difficulty spikes.

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