Marvel has been working hard to bolster its video game franchises in recent years and has had pretty mixed results. While the PlayStation exclusives Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales were critically acclaimed and commercially formidable, Marvel’s Avengers flopped, despite gathering a powerful fan base. Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a whole different take on the intersection of comic book and video game, with a shift in focus towards backstory rather than gameplay, but it’s not all worth it.
Let’s get this straight: Midnight Suns plays like XCOM. Move your roster of superheroes around a play area while using abilities, attacks, and special moves to defeat enemies, secure objectives, or gain a tactical advantage on the map. These abilities are broken down into a card system (think: Slay the Spire or HearthStone) so that your characters, like Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Wolverine, and many more, have a number of powerful weapons and powers at their disposal to fight against the enemies. enemies, but in a completely random way.
This card system tries to add some depth to the game but, for me, it only goes halfway. Sure, for players with strategically focused deckbuilder brains, this will be a breeze for them. Without a doubt, they will be able to create the most optimal card game imaginable for each specific character or type of enemy. But, for simpler players (read: bad at strategy) like me, it was easy to just let the game do what it wanted and come out on top anyway.
Regardless of your deckbuilding stance, one thing is for sure: abilities look fantastic. Marvel fans, like myself, will quickly adjust to seeing Captain Marvel launch a binary beam through a group of melting enemies; or Doctor Strange summoning a mystical ax to thwart a corrupted Venom. The graphics, art style, and finesse of animation in Marvel’s Midnight Suns are worth the price of admission alone. This is easily one of the most compelling and visually stunning Marvel games to date.
The combat itself is also exciting. The tactical nature of each mission adds necessary depth to the graceful powers displayed by the world’s mightiest heroes. And, just like other strategy games before it (like the aforementioned XCOM, or even the Mario + Rabbids series), there’s nothing quite as satisfying as pulling off a perfect round of combat and killing all the enemies in one hit with a plan. perfectly executed.
Unfortunately, combat is perhaps the one place where Marvel’s Midnight Suns also falls short.
The maps on which your various battles take place are extremely bland. Sure, they’re set in a number of different landscapes—a New York City street or building, the Sanctum Sanctorum, the actual Hell—but they all feel very much the same. Few are reduced to more than a simple square to fight. Each mission has a set of environmental objects to interact with, like rocks for Spider-Man to throw or coffins for Blade to throw at people, but other than that, most mission areas are flat and boring. . XCOM, the gold standard of strategy and tactics games, has several missions with verticality and side rooms to explore. The Midnight Suns are simply a playing field for battle, much like a Warhammer board. If the combat wasn’t so fun and intricate, this would be a deal breaker.
Still, there’s a lot to love about Marvel’s Midnight Suns, most notably the story.
The ancient order of wizards, the Midnight Suns, is forced to resurrect Hunter, the player’s blank slate character, to help defeat Lilith, a demon bent on the destruction of the world. Players can customize Hunter to a certain extent, from gender body type and hair color, but more importantly, they can use them to connect with the heroes of the game. Yes, just like Animal Crossing, you can spend quality time with Ghost Rider by playing video games with him. You can even give him gifts. He is actually very sweet.
This Stardew Valley-style part of the game is wrapped in a beautiful gothic house called The Abbey that is freely available to roam between missions. Here, Hunter can get to know the heroes a little better, listen to a troubled Peter Parker, gain additional powers, dive into some of the deepest stories in history, or just hang out in the wonderful universe.
Marvel fans will love the story and finer details of Marvel’s Midnight Suns. It’s the kind of snippet-of-life writing that’s both fascinating and endearing.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns isn’t a perfect game by any stretch of the cosmos, but it does have a lot going for it. Marvel fans will no doubt love the style, story, and weight of every repulsor blast and magic spell embedded in the game. In fact, there are some deep cuts to comic book lore that will have all hardcore readers absolutely giddy. But while the combat is fun and exciting, its 30-hour campaign can feel dull as the maps only change a little as the story progresses.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns comes to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Nintendo Switch, and PC on December 2, 2022.
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