Marvel’s Midnight Suns Review

So, I’ve been playing a shit ton of games and working through my backlog in preparation for Baldur’s Gate 3/ Starfield season so I will be reviewing things kind of as I play them. First up is Marvel’s Midnight Suns

You’re a Demon-slaying yugioh player on a quest to execute your mother with the help of your work spouses and endless trauma bonding as a form of team building along the way..

Marvel’s Midnight Suns was crafted by the wonderful strategists over at Firaxis Games in collaboration with Marvel. In a surprising change of pace from the Xcom reimagining and its sequels, Firaxis decided to blend their strategy formula with an eight card version of the card combat system from Slay the Spire mixed with a lighter variation on the team building mechanics from Persona. I would be lying if I told you the first looks at gameplay didn’t nearly scare me off. It wasn’t until the barrage of positive reviews that I decided to spring for the  Legendary edition with all the bells and whistles. This is probably the best way to play the game as the four DLC characters have great cards and the story introduces some figures that show up late in the game. Lastly, I played the game mostly on my steam deck for 70 hours and another 10 hours on my Nvidia 3080/ Ryzen 5700 build dubbed “the backup PC” so I don’t have any gameplay but I will correct that for future reviews.

Intro

Your Hunter and the Suns gets two outfits that can be customized. Mission Armor and Abbey Lounge Attire

You are The Hunter, the Half Demon/ Half Witch spawn of Lilith (“She’s so hot right now,” see Diablo IV) who is resurrected 300 years after vanquishing your mother who had fallen to the corruption of the Darkhold. With the world in near apocalyptic territory, and allies and foe alike falling under Lilith’s corruption, the Avengers have joined up with the more mystical oriented Midnight Sons group. As a main character, The Hunter is the fish out of water team leader voiced by Mathew Mercer and Elizabeth Grullon who do a great job bringing the character to life with a nice mixture of out of time humor and surprising inspiration. You blend together teams of Three heroes and carry out a variety of story and general missions such as protecting data servers, surviving waves of enemies or defeating corruption boosted versions of bosses from the story missions. DLC Missions add in a vampyre hybrid enemy type. The story does take a bit of time to hit its groove though. The initial hours focused on giving glimpses into the deeper bonds and backgrounds of everyone involved.

AvengersMidnight SunsDLC Characters
Iron ManDr. StrangeDeadpool
Captain MarvelBladeVenom
Spider-ManNico Minoru (from Runaways!)Morbius
Captain AmericaMagikStorm
Wolverine (Late game)Ghost RiderThe Hunter (you)
Hulk (Late Game)Scarlet Witch (Late Game)The Caretaker (NPC)
The Full roster

Gameplay

Mission Map showcasing the mission type and rewards

There’s a delicate balance to the gameplay of Midnight Suns. Just like Cult of the Lamb before it there’s a sort of marriage of opposites going on. The abbey social aspect boosts how strong your characters are before going onto the daily mission. The heroes’ performance and mission parameters will reward you with loot that helps improve the abbey and the turntables turn. The card combat is just the tip of the iceberg in battle. For example after a couple level ups you will be able to combine attack cards with knockback abilities and smart character placements to get double damage. Debris and explosive objects are on every battlefield and can be utilized for the cost of heroism. At the beginning of the game you get 3 card plays a turn and have to monitor how much damage the attacks do and how much heroism they consume or build. By the end you will have super up versions of all your cards with customizable bonuses and combat items that can give health or bonus heroism. I am only a beginner strategist. This being my second strategy I’ve finished behind Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (fantastic underrated game) and I was kicking ass here. Some background character knowledge helps here. There were a handful of missions where I went out with two support characters and got washed. Even missions with my A Team could end up in a situation where I’d forget to play the card that refunds the card play letting me extend my turn and wouldn’t generate enough heroism or waste all my heroism and the mission would be over 3 turns before I even realize it.

If a hero is knocked out or you have no Heroism. Good luck!

Then on the flip side there is all the Abbey stuff and that’s when the Persona relationship sim stuff comes into play. Before every battle and before bed you will be pushed towards having conversations with each hero with the option to invite 1 to hangout and build a personal relationship that contributes to a larger team relationship that will grant bonuses like extra health or expanding the radius of explosive containers. Now I won’t say I wanted the Hunter to sleep their way through the roster like they were comic book accurate Tony Stark/She Hulk, but halfway through maxing out my 9th characters relationship Deadpool made a couple jokes about hooking up that reminded me that in any other game with this much dialogue that would’ve been the eventual goal. Here it’s just a mechanic to further everyone’s love of the Hunter story. You can also spar with a hero in the training ground and that boosts a random Stat and potentially your friendship level. There are mysteries around the abbey that will expand upon the world building. There are four words of power you find across the story that give special abilities to  more blocked off parts of the map. You can collect tarot cards with different heroes on them (totally wish these were real). Plants that can be used to craft regents like healing salves. And journal entries from The Hunter, Lillith, and the caretaker that give bits of background on their bonds over the hundreds of years they were alive. And lastly you can upgrade the abbey grounds through doing certain challenges like upgrading 3 of a hero’s cards or taking them out on 5 missions.

As you walk around the Abbey the heroes will require different levels of your attention to become stronger.

Video, Audio & Performance

Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a gorgeous game. Around the Abbey there’s almost a dozen  wonderfully rendered occult landmarks for you to find. The character designs are unique, similar to the last couple Marvel games all doing their own interpretations of how the heroes get depicted and here is no different. However most of the battleground areas are just blasé swatches of brown, red or gray boxes with stuff and enemies thrown about. If I decide to play a new game + I play to utilize the photo mode to the full extent.  Every character’s voice actor showed up. I especially loved hearing Yuri Lowenthal return as Spider-Man and Michael Jae White playing Blade. Mathew Mercer does a good job playing the Male hunter but personally I preferred Elizabeth Grullon as the Woman Hunter.

Team Members can be posed in post match Comic style shots or in Photo Mode

Lastly, I will talk about performance. So I started this game on my backup PC and everything worked swimmingly but it felt like my PC was sluggish running this compared to far more labor intensive open world games like Forspoken and literal chaos like Chivalry II. It wasn’t until I dug in and discovered the 2K launcher was the cause of the hitching! Even now it can cause some issues so here’s an article on how to side step that. On the Steam deck however the 2k launcher can’t be disabled at all but I noticed the game would randomly crash during some of the abbey activities. For example I had an incident where after having 4 discussions, a hangout and a club night and getting ready for bed to get to the next day the game crashed and I lost almost an hour of progress. So then I decided just to save after every other activity but oddly it would never happen during battle no matter how chaotic it got. I would hold that against the game because it wasn’t Steam Deck Verified until late February once the first batch of DLC rolled out.

The completed Midnight Suns look Optimistic about what lays before them.

TL;DR

Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a great strategy game that hits more than it misses but the imbalance can tip over at any point given how you feel about the abbey half of the game. The story isn’t all the way there and I honestly would’ve liked to be able to name or even pick out the nickname of my customized character but those tiny issues are my biggest gripes. So in its current state with the season pass content I would highly recommend Marvel’s Midnight Sun’s but with a couple caveats. The gameplay is fast paced and easy to jump into but you have to be invested in building relationships or be prepared to skip a lot of dialogue. Simply liking Marvel characters might not be enough to get you through this. However if you like learning new combat mechanics, Firaxis’ knack for simple to learn but tough to fully maximize strategy gameplay, or the ridiculousness of Blade forming a book club just to try and date Captain Marvel you are in for a treat. I would love for Firaxis to expand the roster with a second DLC season pass or a sequel but this game has been deemed a commercial flop but its post holiday season December release date surely didn’t help. But I had a lot of fun and I think you will too. Marvel’s Midnight Suns is available on PS4/ PS5, XBO/ XSX and PC

Thank You for reading this Review seven months after the game was released  I know SEO is going to eat me alive! But if you enjoyed this and are looking for more demon slaying team building exercises stay tuned to FeatMarvinL.com

1 thought on “Marvel’s Midnight Suns Review

  1. Matthew Sanchez

    Great read! Definitely going to keep it on the wishlist for now, I’m willing to give the card gameplay a try after playing a lot of Marvel Snap.

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