Marvel video games all have very big shoes to fill to measure up to the goliath strength of the MCU and a nostalgic back catalog so extensive that any game’s chances of success must feel like a Black Friday shopper trying to get a discount pair of crocs. Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a high-budget, card-based strategy RPG. Such an intricate premise may have put people off giving the game a shot, but I’m here to tell you why this game is an absolute gem worth your time.
The story of this game is simple. In fact, it feels like something that would have come straight from Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. You play as “Hunter,” a fully customizable player character who is immediately labeled as “The chosen one” to defeat Lilith, your mother, who is trying to bring back a dark god from the mythic past to destroy the world. It’s a pretty standard Marvel affair.
My first Hunter was a dark-aligned fighter-class woman. I’m on my second playthrough, trying to make my light-aligned guy look like Geralt of Rivia.
However once the game gets the story premise out of the way it’s clear the game isn’t fully invested in plot, but more the characters and your relationship with your teammates. Midnight Suns’ characters don’t serve the story; the story serves the characters.
You have an exploration section that the game tells you is optional, which I found a bit unusual. It’s filled with story relevant plot too. To not enforce it is a testament to the developer’s dedication to player freedom, and not just because Captain America has a swimsuit costume.
Midnight Suns truly feels like a bonding experience with the characters. If you want to learn more about a character, you will put the effort in, and you’ll be rewarded in cosmetics and lore for your chosen teammates.
I personally put all my effort into Magik and learned so much about her personality and wishes that I feel affection for the character on a new level. In fact, if you go down the dark path of the karma system, you’ll find it much easier to gain relationship points with her. Most characters will respond positively to conversation choices marked with their own alignment. I loved this; you get to know so much just by their reactions.
At the same time, I paid no attention to who I had dubbed “Fake Ghost Rider” Robbie Reyes. (He’s the second version) and even after a full playthrough, all I know is that he has an unhealthy obsession with his car. I didn’t need to waste time on him, and the game did not punish me and still kept him at a healthy level for missions.
This ability to pick and choose made me feel way closer to the characters I was interested in because I knew it was my personal interest and not a railroading experience.
When you max out friendships, you’ll unlock the character’s super move, a game-breaking card in most situations that will truly let you feel the power of friendship by making the AI enemies cry for mercy.
Battle itself takes a fair bit of brain power. You must work out who goes with who and what strategies you want to employ, power up and gain cards from missions, then employ them strategically. Positioning and environment are ever-present and have a large effect on battles. Enemies can also reinforce their numbers and cause no end of grief if you weren’t expecting them.
All your heroes have beautifully unique play styles. For example, Spider-man likes to throw environmental hazards at enemies and take advantage of positioning, while Doctor Strange likes to improve his allies’ abilities. All the characters synergize with each other in diabolical and grotesquely devious ways that might make you cackle. It’s a tactical soup that simmers till the point it really boils, and I bet you’ll taste the raw flavor when it’s done right.
Finally, let’s talk about the photography system. It’s so expansive that I was amazed. There’s almost an entire photoshop program in this. Take models, rearrange them, insert them into scenes, adjust models on the fly, introduce filters, and add effects and backgrounds.
You can hang the pictures you can make all around your home base, allowing for an extensive decoration feature. It’s no doubt the best camera function I’ve ever seen in any game in this modern age, where all RPGs seem to have some form of photograph mode.
Midnight Suns does have a high price tag, but I would say any fan of Marvel games, Tactical games, Bioware RPGs, or Card based strategy games will love this. This isn’t an in-depth review, but if you’re at odds on whether to pick this game up, I would say do it. It went beyond my expectations. Tell me in the comments what you experienced with the game, and I’ll be sure to nerd out with you.