Subway Midnight: Review

Photo from Steam

Photo from Steam

Sierra Donis (she/her), Staff Writer

Subway Midnight, a psychological horror indie game, presents itself as a cute and bubbly adventure but quickly flips the script into a flurry of paranoia and dread. Released in October of 2021 and published by Aggro Crab, developed by Bubby Darkstar, Subway Midnight is another well-crafted indie game for those willing to take it on. 

Your character – who remains nameless – goes through each car of a bizarre train as you uncover mysterious kidnappings and deaths. You learn the stories of the spirits who haunt the train, every car possessing a different appearance and meaning for you to discover. 

The most substantial element of Subway Midnight is the art style. The simple character design but bright and dark color pallets are used to give pep to both the story and gameplay. Furthermore, the art style conveys emotion and creates a mood that effectively substitutes for the lack of dialogue. A mix of 2D and 3D characters creates a range of variety and opportunities within gameplay. Altogether, the art produces an unsettling atmosphere but also a bright one, creating a sense of balance yet contradiction that adds to the horror factor. 

Photo from Steam

Another notable trait of Subway Midnight is the changes in gameplay, as it brings innovation and unpredictability to the experience. From entering the first-person perspective into a 90s horror style of video games to unorthodox puzzles full of color, it incorporates artistic variety. While trekking through the train, you wonder what will happen next—what absurdity and creativity could be in the next car.

Despite the consistency of anticipation throughout the different elements of the game, a handful of the train cars were unnecessary and meaningless, as they didn’t introduce anything new. The repetition of running through these empty cars without a second thought became an issue with the game. It felt like Subway Midnight caved into extending the runtime without adding anything substantial to the plot.

Even though Subway Midnight doesn’t have a single line of dialogue, the characters still manage to tell a story and maintain their likeability. The cutscenes put insight into both the main character and the spirits that they encounter throughout their journey. From painters to fishers, each character has an authentic voice and story, supported by the amazing and cute character design for the side cast.  

However, the lack of dialogue can also create a general vagueness when trying to build a plotline. Visuals can only take you so far, and I found myself slightly confused upon completion. There wasn’t very much connection between the player and the protagonist, as it’s supposed to be a “blank slate” character that the player can project themselves on. I struggled to connect with my character as the protagonist, and this proved to be a frustrating piece of the game. This obscurity in the story and characters has a damaging impact on context and world building. 

Photo from Steam

Similar to Omocat’s OMORI, Subway Midnight plays the psychological horror genre well. Unlike typical horror games with upfront jumpscares and loud noises, Subway Midnight manages to fill you with dread and paranoia as you get chased through the train. At many points in the game, the cleverness of the horror details was a spectacle to witness or scream at.   

Subway Midnight shows the true creativity that a psychological horror can take on, even though the storytelling aspect was lacking. Filled with oddities and fear, the adventure that this indie game invites you on is appealing to a very particular audience. Subway Midnight is a love letter to those infatuated with psychological horror and enjoy indulging in unique art styles and creative expression through an eccentric adventure game.

Verdict: 8/10