Claire Barnes is about to discover what kind of horrors lurk in the darkness of a deserted road.
– Midnight Scenes: The Highway’s itch.io page tagline
Midnight Scenes: The Highway is a free, short creepy adventure game by Octavi Navarro. Octavi Navarro has worked on games such as Thimbleweed Park and The Curious Expedition: Arctic Expanse as an artist.
You play as Claire Barnes, a young woman who experiences a flat tire on her car while driving on a dark deserted road. Even though this sounds like the premise of your typical slasher horror film, you find that things are not always what they seem.
Midnight Scenes: The Highway appears to take on a “show, don’t tell” approach. You receive clues from the current scene itself and draw your own conclusions. My interpretation of the game was that there were two stories. The first story is of Claire trying to find help on a deserted road with the secondary story revealing a family’s tragedy.
You could find photos of the family at happier times yet it is overshadowed by posters of their missing child. You later find clues at the end of the game that imply that he was taken for sinister reasons. At least, that is what I believed. In all honesty, I had zero understanding of what the last three clues were but they felt important.
The ending was interesting as it creates doubt whether the events of the game truly happened or were simply part of Claire’s imagination. I am keen to see which direction Octavi will take the future episodes of Midnight Scenes if it becomes a series. I could see future episodes linking to each other (e.g. events of The Highway are referenced in episode 2). Alternatively, future episodes are all stand-alone and do not interlink with each other in any form.
On the itch.io page, Octavi stated that the visual style and mystery theme were heavily influenced by Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Reading that had me doubting and questioning everything I saw in the game. Questions such as: why is this poster different from the others? Is any of what I am seeing real?
There is a slight puzzle element to the game. Mainly in the form of trying to open a gate early on. Otherwise, it is your typical point and click adventure game: find the interactable objects in the scene, combine the items if necessary to solve the current dilemma and so forth.
With that said, the design of the game and the mood is brilliant. I found the game delightfully creepy from start to finish. Even more so with the sound design that was perfect in my opinion. The balance between when the game has music or only ambient background sounds just added to the whole gameplay experience. I think I was more spooked when I realized I could only hear the crickets chirping into the night, and noticed the lack of music. I was fully anticipating for a scare to occur.
Despite the short playing time (less than 20 minutes), Midnight Scenes: The Highway delivers a creepy point and click experience with the tantalizing promise for more. Seeing the comments on the itch.io page confirms that episode two is in the works, something I will be keeping an eye out for as I would love to see more.
Finally, I am curious about one thing from the game. I never actually investigated the car tunnel which leads me to wonder if it affects any part of the game, such as the outcome. That or perhaps I may just be over-thinking things as I am prone to do.
If you would like to check out Midnight Scenes: The Highway, go ahead and click on the hyperlink! If you like to check out more from Octavi Navarro, you check out Octavi’s social media: