Forward Instinct‘s Midnight Ultra is a wonderful concept piece, the kind of game that looks like it just jumped off a Xerox with a loving, fresh coat of toner. It’s the sort of stylings you’d expect to find buried in the pages of a zine stapled to a power pole next to a back alley, and it bleeds character.

In a lot of ways, Midnight Ultra makes for a straightforward shooting romp, with a few nice twists like optional melee weapons that have weak projectile attacks (enough to get you out of a pinch when ammo gets scarce). The wasteland of the American Southwest is anything but dead, with enemies zipping about the horizon as you claw your way through dusty old towns.

I can’t speak for the developer’s influences, but I got a seriously serious “Mad World”, Platinum Games kinda vibe, and regardless of intent it shines here. It’s not often that you play a game with wild color schemes to pick from in a theme menu that drastically changes the palette of the game. Even rarer is the sort of strong geometry and stark contrast that lets something like that pay off.

The standout winner here, though, is the soundtrack: wild-west grindhouse vibes pour through your headphones as you hack, whack, and blast your way through every environment. Forward Instinct should strongly consider pitching a game like this as an EP bundle; it’s definitely a huge strength that’s worth playing off of in the future.

Recently, the developers added in some new content that’s definitely worth checking out; if you’re a fan of straightforward first-person shmups with a bit of visual flair, Midnight Ultra is worth your time. I’ll be looking forward to whatever Forward Instinct thinks up next, and hopefully they’ll continue to blossom as a small indie collective.

Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice