When you think of global franchises that match up with XCOM, Marvel may not seem a natural fit.
It’s a bold pitch, no doubt. And one that takes vision, courage, and a clear willingness and desire to make happen.
Fortunately, it’s also one that works far better than you’d expect and is a joy to pick up and play from start to finish.
Rather than putting you in the shoes of a known entity, like an Iron Man or Captain Marvel, you’re Hunter. An ancient, respected hero of heritage that hasn’t been seen for many years but now re-emerged to help known heroes fight Lilith.
And the really interesting twist to this is that you’re the all-important link between the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Midnight Suns for which the game has been titled.
For those unfamiliar, the Midnight Suns bring together the likes of Blade, Ghost Rider, Magik and Nico of The Runaways fame. They may not have the starpower of your Spider-Man and Captain America but they’re just as formidable and you play a big part in keeping up that unity.
You’re going to need all the help you can get to stop Lilith who has warped some of the most fearsome foes in the Marvel Universe to her will, like Venom and Crossbones. Not to mention all of Hydra.
So Midnight Suns puts you in the hot seat. To assemble a formidable team to take down the worst of the worst, but also building a team that co-operates and compliments.
So if you went with all ranged fighters, you may not have the muscle to deal with matters in close quarters. Likewise, some magic may be in order to deal with a particularly vexing foe.
And in order to maximise the abilities of your team, you need to act like one. Which is what makes Marvel’s Midnight Suns such an interesting game of two halves.
On one hand, yes, it’s like XCOM. You take it in turns with enemies on the board, take on a series of objectives, and logically use up your skill points in order to defeat everyone in front of you and survive those perils.
And on the other it’s more like a Fire Emblem where you build up relationships with your allies, giving them gifts, spending time doing activities with them, helping them with their questions and responding to them on a rather familiar looking messenger service.
Unlike other Marvel games of recent years, this game handles a host of massive egos seamlessly. Everyone gets their chance to shine, all the characters feel noticeably authentic and the interactions they have with one another seem surprisingly legitimate.
The emphasis is on story more than action, which is the thing that might take you longest to adjust to. It’s more about Blade’s admiration for his colleagues rather than absorbing the life force of his enemies.
Don’t get me wrong, the action is fast and furious. You’ll blow up propane tanks to take out hordes of Hydra, knockback Venom into electric conductors to stun him and even do tandem offense to take off obsence amounts of energy.
But relationships are at the heart of this game. You’ll need to be mindful of injuries, just as much as you will be able to level up attributes and consider combat lines and approaches with incoming buffs.
It’s such a smartly designed game that never takes itself too seriously but also treats its source material with the appropriate amount of respect as every character is immediately discernable and each key event feels directly lifted from the comics.
Even down to the character abilities and the way each feels different from the next. Your actions and abilities are all made up of cards and each one in your deck corresponds to a particular character you’ve chosen for your team.
There’s not necessarily an even balance of characters in each hand, but you can reroll twice per turn. Each card also carries different benefits, some prompt an attack, some provide a knockback, some even buff or heal allies.
But this all naturally blends into which character to bring with you and which cards to place in their deck. All of which you can update and evolve in The Abbey, a safe haven for the collected heroes.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a game of layers. When you think you have a measure of what’s going on, you’ll encounter a new mission type, meet a new character, the story will move in an unexpected direction or you’ll be faced with a difficult decision.
It’s a game that keeps you guessing, keeps surprising and offers variety with a steady introduction of new heroes, abilities and environments to explore.
The grounds of The Abbey itself, for instance, are surprisingly vast and full of secrets, like hidden chests, puzzles that document another life and a wide spread of areas to explore.
Interestingly, in addition to the story developing through the XCOM style missions, you’ll also gain access to new abilities which unlock new areas of the Abbey, like an ability that opens secret doors and another that breaks fragile walls.
Aside from some mission repetition and graphical hiccups, Marvel’s Midnight Suns succeeds in almost every department. It surprises, entertains and has lasting content that will take us right through the year with its Season Pass.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a refreshing delight. One you know went through rigorous stages of pitching and proposal and, at one point, may have been left on the cutting room floor. I am so glad this game has been made as it offers a fascinating insight into characters you know and some you may not. It tells a compelling tale that has room for humor and typical Marvel fun. Most of all, it has intriguing gameplay mechanics that evolve over time and individually suit one of the most impressive rosters we’ve seen in any Marvel title before.
Midnight Suns is simply brilliant and a must play whether you love the franchise or just fancy a bit of strategic action.
+ An impressive, diverse and varied roster of some of Marvel’s best
+ Intriguing story full of twists, turns and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor
+ Keeps itself interesting by bouncing between action and the Abbey.
+ Relationship building tells some interesting side stories that really fill out the content in meaningful ways
– Some graphical hiccups
– Mission variety stagnates at times
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is out now on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox
Played on Xbox Series X
Code Kindly Provided by 2K
You must be logged in to post a comment.