Hello Puppets: Midnight Show

As a horror movie fan, I love the Tubi app. It’s a great place to find obscure movies that could end up being hidden gems. Speaking of which, you should watch The Funhouse Massacre on Tubi if you haven’t yet. It’s dumb and campy, but it has a lot of heart. Not to mention splatter-y goodness! Oh, and Robert England makes a fun appearance, too!

Unfortunately, when it comes to Tubi, you might see horror movies on there that appear to be in the so-bad-it’s-good category, but alas, they end up just being not-very-good. They might have some fun ideas, but there’s something missing — there’s no real hook to capitalize on these films’ potential and good ideas. And that’s kind of what playing Hello Puppets: Midnight Show was like for me.

I’ve watched my share of creepy doll and puppet movies over the years. Child’s Play will forever be a classic. Puppet Master had some wonderful ideas and great puppet designs, but it was a slog. The Annabelle trilogy started off pretty poorly, but then Annabelle: Creation was freakin’ awesome, and then Annabelle Comes Home was just okay. I like this sub-genre of horror, but you don’t see too many games that dive into it. So you can see why I was instantly intrigued when I first heard of Hello Puppets: Midnight Show.

Puppets are weird. Puppets are kind of scary. Puppets are just straight-up unsettling. So the idea of a video game taking you on a trip through a haunted puppet show is genuinely brilliant. The problem I have with Hello Puppets: Midnight Show is that it has all the qualities of creepy puppet horror, but it doesn’t quite put them together as well as it should.

Hello Puppets: Midnight Show

While playing, I walked down long empty hallways, expecting something to pop out of nowhere and scare me. That didn’t happen, though. And that’s fine, because a lot of times, a good work of horror makes the player wait before that first big scare. Sadly, this game waited a little too long. Instead of being chilled to my core, I was forced to go on scavenger hunts and find things like batteries and cardboard cutouts to place on a board. None of these tasks were especially engaging or interesting, and I grew restless due too how mundane they were.

I eventually got to see Nick Nack, the antagonistic puppet whose obnoxious voice I could hear over intercoms while I looked for batteries and other items. And yes, I’ll admit it was a little eerie turning around and seeing him just staring at me, but when he started chasing me, it didn’t really work.

I was caught by Nick Nack, which prompted me to restart at the previous checkpoint. That posed another problem, because from there I was forced to start looking for the cardboard cutouts all over again. The problem with checkpoints in horror games is that the big scares aren’t as scary when you have to retry the same scenario repeatedly. The bigger problem here, though, is that the game forces you to undertake its boring tasks all over again.

A game like Layers of Fear 2 is effective not only because of its scares and creatures, but also because of its atmosphere. Hello Puppets: Midnight Show almost, almost gets the atmosphere right, but because all of the moving pieces around it don’t work very well, it’s hard to find it all that scary or, much worse, even enjoyable.

I’ve heard a lot of praise directed toward the Hello Puppets VR game, and maybe that one’s good. But as far as this chapter is concerned, I might just look for some scares elsewhere come launch — maybe I’ll just look for a horror movie to watch on Tubi.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview build of the game for this article.

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