Review: Midnight Fight Express Is a Brilliant Isometric Beat ‘Em Up

I think the beat ‘em up genre needs a resurgence, much like old school shooters enjoyed after 2016’s Doom. I’m not saying that Midnight Fight Express is going to be the catalyst for such a boost in beat ‘em ups, but it definitely has the potential to be.

Midnight Fight Express is an isometric beat’em up developed by solo developer Jacob Dzwinel. In it, you play as a former street thug turned vigilante as you fight the underworld and its many denizens across a violence filled night. Throughout, you’re accompanied by a drone that acts as the narrator and guide through your evening of ultra-violence.

Screenshot: Midnight Fight Express

Fighting in Mightnight Fight Express is your main activity, and it’s damn fun. While combat isn’t easy, it isn’t as punishing as games like Dark Souls or Sifu (for a closer comparison). Combat in Midnigt Fight Express was more often about how I was going to dispatch the room of foes using the various implements and methods more than it was about barely coming out of the fights alive.  It’s more Streets of Rage than Hotline Miami or Sifu.  

Fighting is fluid and very fun. You can use a variety of weapons, and even use objects around the level—either by kicking them, or picking them up and using them as bludgeons against your enemies. To enhance your fighting ability, you can use your skill points you gain through experience to learn new moves, extend combos, and other ways to customize the fighting of Midnight Fight Express to your preference.

Screenshot: Midnight Fight Express

Not only is the combat fun in Midnight Fight Express, but where the action takes place is impressive, too. Not satisfied with merely having you beat up lowlife thugs in warehouses and office buildings, you’ll also be fighting across water, and on the back of trains in locations undoubtedly inspired by action movies.

My biggest disappointment with Midnight Fight Express is its lack of co-op gameplay.  Every great beat ‘em up has multiplayer, but Midnight Fight Express doesn’t even let you do couch co-op, which is a massive bummer. I’m hoping for a sequel, DLC, or even a patch that puts this functionality into the game sometime in the future.

Screenshot: Midnight Fight Express

Midnight Fight Express doesn’t do too many things uniquely, but the things it does, it does damn well. If you’re itching for a great beat ‘em up, Midnight Fight Express will deliver exactly that.

Midnight Fight Express will be available 8/23 for PC via Steam and on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox Game Pass, with a Nintendo Switch version coming soon.

A Steam key was provided to us for the purposes of this review

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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.