South of Midnight – Magic, Skeletons and the Blues
South of Midnight takes place in America’s Deep South, but a more magic realist version of it. This is probably one of the most intriguing games to come out of Xbox Games Showcase this week. And the fact that its developed by Compulsion Games makes it even more so. Compulsion Games is a Canadian indie game studio who developed We Happy Few and Contrast. Now they’ve set their sights on another dark gothic mystery, with their latest game.
South of Midnight is a third-person action adventure set in a world of magic, monsters and giant, blues-playing skeletons. And based on its cinematic trailer the whole world looks rich with Southern culture, magic lore and an intriguing weave type combat system. All the supernatural creatures are based on real-life folklore of the region. Hazel as well looks to be a native on the Deep South and I’m excited to be exploring her particular story and culture that has been relatively unexplored in gaming stories.
Right now the game doesn’t have a confirmed release date but its definitely one we want to keep an eye on. Here’s everything we know about South of Midnight so far.
Hazel Is A Weaver
Our main protagonist Hazel is described as an “outwardly confident and wisecracking” woman. She is a ‘Weaver’ who utilises Weaving magic for both combat and traversal. She can magically mend broken bonds and spirits which she’ll need to subdue dangerous creatures. Her Weaving skills will also be used to untangle the webs of her own family’s shared past and – if she’s lucky – find her way to a place that feels like home.
“Weavers are said to be figures who can see how the universe is constructed” says Compulsion Games. It looks like South of Midnight will be more than just a monster fighting adventure. Hazel has a complex relationship with her mother and has grown up experiencing multiple failures and societal injustice. With her Weaving ability to untangle webs we expect an emotional story amongst all the might and magic.
Hazel is a unique heroine and Compulsion Games has taken pains to ensure that her story is told the the best of its ability. “To tell the story of a Black woman in this setting creates another level of complexity that the team had to meet with curiosity and empathy”.
The Rural Deep South
Hazel is the “protector” of the small fictional town of Prospero. Creative director David Sears, who spent his childhood in the region, said it’s “loosely inspired by me tramping around forgotten farms and abandoned places in Mississippi.”
In the Deep South Supernatural creatures that are based on Southern folklore haunt the area. These range from the Altamaha-ha to the Haints. Shakin’ Bones the star of the cinematic trailer is an Archon, similar to Charon the ferry boatman of Greek mythology. His character is also inspired by Johnson a Blues player, who, legend has it, did a deal with the devil at the crossroads.
Folklore, the blues, gospel and folk music play a big part in South of Midnight.
Weaving magic as you can imagine is themed after textiles, such as being able to knit or weave items. Hazel’s Weaving magic allows her to “take the strands that make up the universe and weave or spin them into useful forms for the player to use,” Sears says.
“Weavers are born with the ability to see deeper and see the way the universe is really constructed by these energized, semi-autonomous strands. The universe has intention, but sometimes it breaks down. And that’s why we have Weavers – to repair tears in the grand tapestry that makes up every person, place and thing in existence.” Effectively Hazel’s power isn’t to simply destroy the monsters that have appeared in the world, but to repair the tears in the world itself that have let them spill through.
South of Midnight
South of Midnight will launch as an Xbox Exclusive for the Xbox Series X|S and PC via Steam. It will also be coming to the Xbox Game Pass. So far no launch date has been released yet.