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Witchy, swampy action-adventure South Of Midnight gets a proper gameplay trailer with island-sized alligators

"Bootleg Kena", they're calling it on the Youtubez

South Of Midnight protagonist Hazel riding around on the head of a big magic fish
Image credit: Microsoft

Microsoft have released a new trailer for South Of Midnight, a third-person action adventure from Compulsion Games, who created dystopian Britpop survival game We Happy Few. I thought We Happy Few had some wonderful ideas and presentation - it's sort of Fable by way of Clockwork Orange and Bioshock - but found its mixture of pill-popping satire and survival game mechanisms self-defeating. South Of Midnight seems no less vivid, but a lot more assured in its God Of War-style action... and it's perhaps a bit less intriguing, as a consequence. Still, don't just sit there reading my opinions. Watch the trailer.

Watch on YouTube

To give a quick summary of all that, you play Hazel, a witchy warrior who is trapped in a "Southern Gothic world where reality and fantasy are interwoven, and ancient creatures from folklore emerge". Some of these creatures are friendly, like the drawling ornamental catfish who appears happy to serve as your noble steed. And some of them are unfriendly, like the moving island over in the distance there that is actually a massive, overgrown alligator. Closer at hand, there's some kind of twisty treeboss with glowing red weakpoints for you to dart around and combo.

South Of Midnight's fisticuffs and exploration seem pretty familiar, but it has style. They've gone with an artfully juddery set of character animations that mimic stop motion films, a la Into The Spider-Verse. Hazel can also air-dash and glide using pop-out spooky parachutes. And then there's the woozy, dreamy guitar music, which kicks up towards the finish just before Hazel finally confronts that marauding islandgator.

Again, the game feels like more of a genre piece than Compulsion's previous creations but if it has a good story wrapped around it and doesn't turn out to be a massive swamp level, I'll probably get along with it. I hope the game's snazzy (I know, I'm old) character animations are but the first of several mildly experimental visual flourishes, though I suspect they'll prove divisive - I'm reminded a bit of Sable, whose character movement gave me nausea (again, I'm old).

The flurry of summer games events are now underway! Hit up our Summer Game Fest 2024 hub and our Day Of The Devs roundup for all the news worth caring about from the shows so far.

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