A Sneak Peek into "South of Midnight": THE NEXT BIG LEAP IN GAMING ADVENTURES

‘South of Midnight’ is a rollicking hybrid of fantasy and reality that promises to take video gaming in bold new directions. Announced at the 2022 Summer Game Fest, the game is due for release in 2025. Compulsion Games will create this new genre titled ‘action fantasy’. But what makes ‘South of Midnight’ stand out, and why is the distinction between reality and fantasy such a powerful influence on how we experience video games? We do a deep dive into ‘South of Midnight’ to find out.

The Unique Blend of Fantasy and Reality

At its heart, South of Midnight is an odyssey, rather than just a game. As players prepare to begin their journey through this third-person action-adventure, they meet Hazel, a woman who has been forced into a world beholden to rules of nature that are recognisable, but warped. Dream and actuality are not so far apart in the Southern Gothic world, and it has become a character in its own right, taking its place alongside a setting that holds as many stories, running between the strange and the familiar, as any landscape.


The latest demo shown at this year’s Xbox event promises the fluidity and dynamism of play that ‘South of Midnight’ allows. Players can run, vault, slide, swim, jump, fly. The character is more fluid in how they can move through the space than, for example, the lead character in the Square Enix game Forspoken (2022). But for the Bayou, I see it as a more contextualised version: in my imagined game, you are gliding across larger sections from place to place, and using a magical grapple hook for various other manoeuvres – to get around, to scale a ledge, etc. The idea is to include this level of dynamism not only in its own great gameplay benefits, but also to encourage players’ investment in the character’s journey by taking them through the space like never before.


What makes combat in South of Midnight special is that it is a performance of magic and tactics. Hazel brings left-click sword swipes and a right-click elemental blade, along with those weapons listed earlier for mid-range combat. The combat has been described as ‘satisfying’, and ‘tactical’. While the action is frenetic, it is bounded by the overall aesthetics of the game: exploration is a pleasure, and you move from battle to battle to unravel the nature of this enchanted world. And finally, there is the giant catfish: a vehicle that is hilarious but utterly practical.

The Artistic Narrative: Breaking Boundaries

Perhaps the most visually stunning aspect of South of Midnight is its aesthetic direction – such as the ‘jumpy frame-rate trick’ – used to differentiate cutscenes from in-game action, a device reminiscent of Spider-man: Into The Spider-verse, heightening the importance of the cut scene as storytelling device, potentially turning every move the player makes, and every decision made, into a part of that ever-unfolding narrative.

Why "South of Midnight" Could Be a Game-Changer

However, as the game inches closer to its Xbox and PC release date of 2025, South of Midnight will also be poised to serve as an innovation in the gaming space. Between its story, gameplay, and art, Compulsion Games’ newest project guarantees something unlike any other experience a player could have. Fans who are ready to traverse the dynamic scenes of Compulsion Games’ newest Southern Gothic world are in for a ride, as they can expect that Compulsion Games left no stone unturned in ensuring this adventure would be unlike any other.

The Move That Defines "South of Midnight"

Essentially, South of Midnight is a story about moving, in both spatial and story terms. From the way that Hazel is able to move around the space with almost superhuman grace to the way that the game move takes the narrative through the melding of genres and the challenging of storytelling and narrative forms, movement is the axis around which the game-trip revolves. And as players enter the chapel from the corridor, we know one thing for certain: South of Lockdown is going to put movement at the heart of our gaming experiences and will show that there are still new things to do in adventure and action.

We’ll have to wait until 2025 for South of Midnight, but Compulsion Games is already giving us an experience that’s made to entertain and push the limits of games, of what we can do and what our bodies are capable of, to make the games world our own, to take what feels like reality and see it in a new light.

Jun 10, 2024
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