Game Reviews

The Lords of Midnight

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The Lords of Midnight

The release of The Lords of Midnight on iOS is bittersweet. Its creator Mike Singleton - who crafted the 1984 original and worked with fellow developer Chris Wild to produce this enhanced edition - sadly passed away in October of this year, and so wasn't able to see his most famous offering gain a new generation of fans.

Singleton's death imbues this re-release with poignance. However, even without that The Lords of Midnight would still be worthy of acclaim - largely because it's one of the most expansive and epic video games ever made, and the years that have passed since its original release have done little to dull its astonishing impact.

The Lords of Midnight is part wargame, part RPG-adventure. Set in the titular realm of Midnight, it sees the combined armies of the Free People facing off against the sinister Doomdark.

Like Sauron in Lord of the Rings, Doomdark derives his strength from a mythical artefact - in this case the evil Ice Crown. Destroying this item is one of the ways to claim victory in the game. The other is to overrun Doomdark's citadel of Ushgarak.

Night terrors

Because of these dual objectives, you can approach The Lords of Midnight from two points. You can choose to destroy the Ice Crown with the young but vulnerable Morkin, or assume the role of his father Luxor the Moonprince and rally the people of Midnight into an army capable of obliterating Doomdark's forces on the battlefield.

Masochists may wish to consider the third option, which is to adopt both strategies at the same time.

The game has a day and night cycle, which essentially carves progression into easily-manageable turns. Once you've moved one of the selectable characters, you can switch to another until they have all exhausted their turns - at this point, you can trigger the night cycle and begin a fresh day.

The scope of The Lords of Midnight is staggering even by today's standards, with a massive gameworld to explore - all from a first-person perspective which was positively mind-blowing back in 1984 and still looks appealing even today.

The game's visual style has been skilfully retained in this iOS remake, but everything has been sharpened up to give the graphics increased clarity.

The ice fear is mild

The controls have also benefited from an upgrade, with touch-based movement and menu selection being the order of the day. The interface can initially be a little confusing, but by following the excellent real-time tutorial you'll get the hang of things in no time.

Although The Lords of Midnight can be completed with reasonable ease if you know what you're doing, the appeal of replaying it using different tactics is immense, and this has undoubtedly contributed to the game's enduring popularity over the past few decades.

Taking on Doomdark's forces in open battle is incredibly tricky, but the allure of exploring the vast dominion of Midnight is equally enticing.

Of course, RPG titles have moved on dramatically since Singleton released this groundbreaking classic. Games like Skyrim have layers and layers of detail and can keep players glued to their screens for months.

But, fittingly, The Lords of Midnight's comparative simplicity makes it ideally suited to a mobile device. A robust save system allows you to drop-in and drop-out of your quest at any time, and the focused objectives mean you won't lose sight of your ultimate goal should your adventure be cut short by a pesky meeting or a lengthy phone call.

Singleton carved out an incredible reputation during his time in the games industry - a fact that's underlined by the incredible outpouring of tributes since his untimely death.

This updated version of The Lords of Midnight is a fitting swansong. Putting aside the unfortunate circumstances surrounding its arrival, it's an unmissable remake. Few titles weather the storms of time as well as this solid-gold classic.

The Lords of Midnight

A timeless classic is reborn on iOS. The Lords of Midnight has lost none of its ability to captivate and entertain, and serves as a fitting tribute to Mike Singleton's genius
Damien  McFerran
Damien McFerran
Damien's mum hoped he would grow out of playing silly video games and gain respectable employment. Perhaps become a teacher or a scientist, that kind of thing. Needless to say she now weeps openly whenever anyone asks how her son's getting on these days.