Marvel’s Midnight Suns (PC) REVIEW – One of the Best Superhero Games Ever
December 1, 2022
PC, PS5, XSXS
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from Marvel’s Midnight Suns, but I knew I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as good as this. A turn-based strategy deckbuilder with a flavour that feels very much like golden era BioWare, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is an odd blend at first that goes down very smooth before long. It’s one of the most complete video games of the year, if not of the last ten, and is pretty much the definitive way to experience Marvel’s goth phase.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns pits you as The Hunter, a medieval warrior brought back from the dead to fight their Eldritchian mother (did say it was a bit goth) alongside members of The Avengers and the decidedly less box office-friendly titular team. From your base at The Abbey, a strange, otherworldly plot of land where you constantly squabble with your adoptive mother and her ghost partner, you’ll plot out your next move and, most importantly, becomes friends with Spider-Man.
The issue with a game as deep, broad, and complex as Midnight Suns is trying to categorise it in a way that’s concise and also does it justice. It’s a deckbuilder, but you can also shoot the breeze with Ghost Rider and go on a nice walk with Wolverine. It’s a strategy game like XCOM, but also you spar with Blade and pet a demon dog. There’s a lot to Marvel’s Midnight Suns, so much so that some may underestimate just how ambitious it is because of its card game tag. Make no mistake, it might not have a vast open world like Marvel’s Spider-Man or the marketing heft of Marvel’s Avengers, but Midnight Suns should be just as big a deal.
It’s easy to get hung up on Midnight Suns as a CCG, especially if you’re not into the genre at all, but the reality is that it’s actually one of the most accessible examples out there. Take XCOM, strip back some of the soul-crushing difficulty and random chance, and add in superpowered cards with beautiful smackdown animations and you have the right idea. While it may initially seem a little overwhelming with lots to learn, Marvel’s Midnight Suns’ combat is actually fairly simple once it gets its hooks in you.
You get three card plays each turn, with cards split into heroic, skill, and attack varieties. Skill cards and attack cards build Heroism that you need for powerful heroic cards that can really turn the tide of a fight. For instance, Iron Man has a heroic card called Air Superiority that requires two Heroism, so first you will have to play a different type of card (or two) that gives you two Heroism before you can use it. Finding a way to build Heroism while still doling out damage to enemies and keeping card plays is immensely satisfying once the plan comes together, but there’s more to Midnight Suns’ combat than just cards.
Environmental attacks can really turn the tide of battle, as they don’t require a card play but can really do quite a bit of damage if planned out correctly. Some cards come with a knockback effect that allows you to fling enemies back into other opposition or the environment, sometimes even both if you can knock an enemy into an explosive. If you pair this with the quick effect (one of many that can change up the usefulness of a card), which refunds a card play if you eliminate an opponent, it’s clear to see how Midnight Suns can feel like chess meets destruction derby. Sometimes it’s also just fun to use some of your Heroism to throw rocks at a Hydra goon’s head, too.
Considering the giant cast of Marvel characters, it’s no surprise that each superhero brings something different to the table. Magik allows you to open portals to chuck enemies into an environmental trigger from anywhere on the field, Captain America is the tank that can draw attention and soak up damage, while Wolverine can zip around with multi-strike cards and really clean up. There’s a lot of different ways to synergise and strategise in Midnight Suns across Marvel’s biggest names, but the most interesting hero is actually the one who isn’t attached to anything: you, The Hunter.
As a brand new character, The Hunter is basically whatever you make of them. You can choose either male or female with a good suite of customisation options for each, but what’s really compelling about having such a blank slate is how they play and where they align. Your Hunter can be a powerhouse that mops up, a support who heals from the back, or a blend of both. You can even choose whether they align with the dark or light depending on the type of cards you play, which also bleeds into the action outside of battle.
While all of this might sound like a lot to keep track of (and, honestly, this is only really scratching the surface of its impressive depth), Marvel’s Midnight Suns is far more lenient than XCOM for newcomers with no permadeath and easy restarts. However, those who want to get punished and have to contemplate every single move can with Firaxis’ customarily varied difficulty options, with added cosmetic rewards for anyone willing to take the challenge on.
Outside of slinging cards and taking names, Midnight Suns is all about growing friendships with some of Marvel’s own biggest names, whether that’s by chatting to them about the mission at hand, hanging out with them and playing video games, or going toe-to-toe with them in The Yard. You can even find gifts to give them, with different gifts being better for different heroes — how much you’ve been paying attention to their conversations will matter here. It’s not just talking for the sake of talking either, because as well as helping to establish the characters themselves, raising friendship levels with different heroes can also help you unlock powerful cards and passive abilities for them. The sharp, zippy writing with multiple branching paths and alignment-changing decisions that harkens back to prime Mass Effect days would be enough on their own, but the fact that you’re always striving towards some goal makes each interaction feel that much more meaningful.
Speaking of dialogue, there’s a quite frankly staggering, almost absurd amount of it here — and it’s not just limited to direct conversations. Every single member of the team usually has something to say in the background about how a mission went, what they think of the situation, what they like and dislike, and so, so much more. Members of the team also have lengthy conversations with each other independent of you, often filled with Marvel-themed easter eggs. If you thought Hades’ 21,000 voice lines were a lot, Midnight Suns’ 65,000 lines of voice dialogue blows it out of the water.
Consider how many of these voice lines may never be heard by the average player thanks to the game’s branching paths and it’s clear that Firaxis were passionate about making your story very much your own, each hero with their own doubts and concerns beneath their super-veneer. Sure, Tony Stark may as well change his surname to Snark, but how his patter with Doctor Strange and complex relationship with Robbie go to unexpected places. It really is exceptional how story threads weave between each other here, even if sometimes the facial animations don’t match the emotion all the time and can be rather rudimentary at points. That said, you can’t have tens of thousands of lines of dialogue and expect Naughty Dog levels of quality from each one.
When you’re not chatting away to your teammates, there’s still plenty to do around the Abbey that all feeds into perhaps the beefiest progression system I’ve ever seen in a video game. You can study analyse gamma coils to unlock new cards, artifacts to research more facilities that can be unlocked around the halls of the Abbey, craft copies of cards to upgrade them, send heroes out on their own to complete Hero Ops and bring back better cards, and even take part in unique clubs with the game’s many charming cliques, all in the name of building the perfect deck and really trying to break the game’s multi-layered combat. You’ll very rarely be left without something to do in Midnight Suns, especially if you venture out onto The Abbey grounds.
If you liked Mortal Kombat 11‘s Krypt, you will no doubt love opening Arcane Chests and unlocking Words of Power in Marvel’s Midnight Suns, all in the name of unlocking some of what feels like a thousand cosmetic options for your team, as well as a few powerful cards and resources. There’s even a side-story or two to discover for those willing to venture out, including more background on The Hunter and their mother and a few books’ worth of lore strewn across a multitude of collectibles.
While this Krypt-alike is a neat addition, it does feel like where Firaxis focused the least of its resources, as bugs are the most plentiful in these sections and animations take a noticeable step down. Still, uncovering the Abbey grounds is one of about a million things activities in Midnight Suns across the countless hours of content available, so its relative lack of blockbuster quality doesn’t hurt the overall experience too much.
What does hamper the experience a niy, though, is that it isn’t always clear how to trigger certain events around the Abbey, like the clubs and hangouts. Sometimes it just feels pretty random, but that’s probably because there’s no real log for you to refer to, just a set of objectives that disappear completely once ticked off, meaning that it’s easy to lose track of what you’ve just done or what you still need to do. Likewise, there’s no codex for combat or lore, just a tutorial section, so it’s really hard to remember the many enemy names. You may just end up like me and refer to them as just “big boy” and “angry dog”.
About Those Microtransactions
Marvel’s Midnight Suns has a marketplace in the main menu where players can buy cosmetics for all of the heroes except for The Hunter. Players can spend real world money on acquiring these cosmetics by buying Eclipse Credits, with prices ranging from $3 for 300 to $12 for 1500.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns also has a Season Pass for four new DLC packs that are yet to be released. These packs include new heroes, missions, and enemies, while the Season Pass also includes premium skins.
The menus could also do with some streamlining, as it does sometimes feel like the game is wasting your time around The Abbey when it comes to referring to your deck in terms of what to upgrade, sell off, and so on. There’s just a bit too much back and forth for it to every feel truly smooth, and it can also feel like some of the things you unlock arrive just a bit too late to really feel worthwhile.
Some rough edges in the details really don’t take away from what a wonderfully dense, content rich experience Marvel’s Midnight Suns is. Even if you don’t like CCGs or strategy games, it’s the perfect introduction to both thanks to its forgiving learning curve and absorbing power curve. It also allows some of Marvel’s least well known names to shine, while reframing those that we’ve almost seen too much of. Marvel’s Midnight Suns will hook you from sunrise to sunset while also reminding you of just how good Firaxis is at what they do.
A Steam key was provided by PR for this review.
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.
A supremely dense hybrid of many different genres and styles, Marvel's Midnight Suns is an absolutely smashing time and one of 2022's best.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.