Capitalizing on the popularity of bloodsuckers, Milkstone Studios’ Midnight Bite ($1.00) combines vampires (the cool, retro kind with capes, not the ridiculously-attractive and / or whiny, glittering in sunlight kind) and stealth, with you sneakily going around and sucking the blood out of hapless villagers, old people, altar boys, etc.
It’s purely ‘PG’ stuff in the execution, as the cutesy, cartoon-y graphics do a lot to negate the idea of violence, making it safer for a younger audience to play (although you’d still have to explain to your incessantly-inquisitive kids why you’re leeching the neck of an innocent old lady; good luck explaining why they shouldn’t copy that).
Working from an overhead perspective, levels assign you a set number of kills, asking you to dodge the sight-lines of wandering guards and feed on the selected prey. Afterwards, you return to a… well, magical mirror, that will transport you to the next level. Along with quenching your thirst, eternal life and that whole benefits package, there’s various medals to be earned for completing the stage, maintaining a stealthy run throughout, and for collecting all scattered coins. Said medals aren’t just for showing off or completionists, either. They actually matter here, used as a currency to unlock subsequent levels.
The stealth component handily copies Metal Gear’s approach, giving you the ‘Dude, I can totally see your Vision Cone’ ability to determine where each guard’s eyes will fall, and thus, where all the blind spots are. Multiple hiding locations will help you wait out routes and move freely through trouble areas. Taking it one step (no future pun intended) farther, you can even see most of your enemies projected movements, blatantly-illustrated to allow you even more of a leg up… er.. fang up, on your competition. To start, it all seems a piece of human cake, a walk in the mobile blood bank park.
The game realizes this unfair advantage, though, and quickly introduces multiple variables to each stage’s layout to counteract. Easily-disturbed cats and potential targets will shriek if they spot you, drawing nearby guards and riflemen. Hazards in the environment, like garlic (natch) and Bibles (double natch), will slow you down as well. You learn some of your own tricks along the way, and gain access to traversal items (cardboard box, anyone?) and shortcuts, or weapons that cause a temporary stun, to turn the situation back in your favor.
Wouldn’t Gatorade work?… Fine, Cherry Gatorade?
It’s not hard so much as identifying a strategic path and being patient. Later levels and hub worlds do add enemies that refuse to follow predetermined patrol routes. Coupling this with the existing elements gives the stages a sense of randomness, where your skill and watchful eye will prove to be the difference. While success still comes relatively easy (run away all you like; the game only ends once you ‘touch’ an enemy), landing a ‘perfect’ on each stage is tougher, leaving you to replay earlier levels in order to build up your ‘medal bank’ and move on.
Midnight Bite is a decent game to sink your teeth into. The comic-style visuals and playful presentation keep things light-hearted, and the arcade gameplay simplifies the objectives while still ratcheting up the challenge as you go. It starts to bore you if you’re playing in longer stretches, but otherwise, it’s a perfectly-adequate time-waster.