Those rascally villains at Hydra are at it again! This time, they’ve awoken an ancient evil that’s hell bent on summoning Chthon and destroying all life on Earth! It’s up to the Midnight Suns to resurrect an ancient hero and stop Lilith in Marvel’s Midnight Suns by Firaxis and 2K Games.
Developer: Firaxis Games Publisher: 2K Games Platforms: PC, PS5, Xbox Series Release Date: December 2nd, 2022 Price: $59.99 USD
The Midnight Suns of Another Timeline:
Hydra is once again, up to no good. Doctor Faustus has resurrected the mother of all demons, Lilith and she’s intent on summoning Chthon. Upon her awakening, Lilith targets the Sanctum Sanctorum and launches an assault with a horde of powered-up Hydra goons. Though they’re easily defeated, Doctor Strange suggests that they’ll need more help and travels to the Abbey. A location magically frozen in time and hidden away in a pocket dimension.
Upon their arrival, they inform the Caretaker, overseer to the Midnight Suns, of Lilith’s return. With this knowledge in hand, they awaken the only hero who can defeat Lilith, The Hunter. An ancient warrior and Lilith’s only child. Hunter has stopped Lilith once before, and they’ll need their help if they’re going to do so again.
It’s a story that we’ve heard a million times but one that never really feels old, especially if it’s approached the right way. In Midnight Suns case, I felt it was handled well enough, thanks in part to those around Hunter. It’s up to the player to build up relationships with their superhero partners in the Midnight Suns. In doing so, players delve more into their past and open up new avenues of the Abbey to explore. The game has a fun cast that we haven’t had the opportunity to experience before, and I appreciated getting to know them.
Build Your Deck, Save the World:
Your objective is simple. Hydra is up to no good, and it’s up to you and the team to stop them. Where Midnight Suns differs from other superhero games though, is that it’s a deck-building game, with real-time strategy blanketing the top of it. Before starting each mission, players select their team, consisting of three heroes. Story missions require Hunter be involved, but side missions don’t though they’ll usually require at least one specific hero.
When actively on a mission, you’ll encounter Hydra’s forces where you will draw from their decks to combat them. The three most important card types are Attack, Skill, and Heroic Cards. Attack cards are offensive cards that deal damage. Skill cards are those that often provide useful buffs, and Heroic cards are powerful, unique abilities that showcase what the Suns can really do. Though Heroic abilities require a certain amount of heroism to be built up before being played.
Players are only allotted a certain amount of “Card Plays” until they can’t use any more though there are ways around that. For instance, cards with the “Quick” ability will refund the card play used that card if specific conditions are met, like the target is KO’d. Those cards are great for taking out smaller units quickly and building up heroism in order to focus on tougher enemies.
Environments can also be weaponized as well. If you have enough heroism and you’re out of card plays, you may consider using objects placed around you. Throw objects, kick tables/crates, bring down objects from the ceiling, it’s all up to you. The fight doesn’t stop just because you don’t have any card plays left.
What I love most is that Midnight Suns does a fantastic job of making each hero feel unique. Captain Marvel for instance gets a free chance to go binary mode every time you play three of her cards. Magik can open up portals she can position and use while Ghost Rider can open up holes to hell which his companions can drop enemies into for an instant KO. Combine those last two together, and they make a dangerous pair in combat.
The Abbey, Home to the Midnight Suns:
The Abbey was unexpectedly my favorite part of the game. Unlike what Firaxis has done in the X-COM games, Midnight Suns has provided us with a fully fleshed-out base to explore. It’s full of little secrets to discover and collectibles to find. Where the side content unfolds and relationships blossom.
If you told me I’d be this into a Marvel “dating sim” before playing Midnight Suns, I’d have called you crazy. However, I spent way too much time worrying about what my compatriots thought about Hunter. Choosing your dialog wisely will increase your relationship with them as will a handful of things. Combat, gifts, and compliments also work to increase your friendships.
Another thing worth noting is that upgrading the Abbey is almost essential. To earn those upgrades, you need to meet specific requirements. Nico Minoru, for example, will give players access to a healing station where players can research and place in the Abbey. Heroes will sustain injuries in combat and that’s something you’ll definitely need. In order to get that upgrade, you’ll need to upgrade the Forge to a certain level and bring Nico with you on three missions.
Midnight Suns makes mingling with your team and improving the Abbey an important aspect of the gameplay. It’s where you’ll craft useful items, apply bonuses, as well as unlock new abilities and helpful upgrades. Improving your friendships will also unlock powerful combo cards and make relationship-building easier. So it’s worth catering to your team’s needs and building up your home.
The Situation Doesn’t Look Good:
I spent my time with the game on Xbox Series X where performance was never an issue. Being turn-based, you never have to worry about too much going on to affect the performance. However, the PS5 and Xbox Series versions do lack a graphical settings option. Thankfully, the game looks good enough to earn a pass from me at least. There are low-resolution, pre-rendered cutscenes however they don’t look great at all.
The Hunter’s character customization is surprisingly deep, and the other superheroes all have cool costumes. Though a handful of them are locked behind season pass or marketplace purchases. Enemy designs are lacking, with them just feeling like beefier versions of the last one. The “Fallen” bosses are great though and look super cool.
My biggest pet peeve is the voice acting. It isn’t all bad but there are two heroes, in particular, I didn’t love. Doctor Strange and Iron Man. Maybe I’m spoiled by Marvel’s Avengers and Nolan North, but Stark’s voice actor doesn’t quite fit the bill. He sounds nasally and frankly, like something a generic nerd would in a TV show. The same goes for Strange. He’s got that ominous magic caster air about him but also feels like he came out of the Simpsons. With that being said, hearing Iron Man quip “Fail Smydra” will always make me smile.
Closing Complaints and a Conclusion:
I do have some complaints though I feel they’re minor compared to what Midnight Suns does correctly. First and foremost, once you’ve defeated a Fallen boss, there’s a chance they’ll appear randomly in other missions. I felt this dragged these small supply-run missions out. Secondly, enemy reinforcements, on occasion, also feel like a drag. They come in waves, even after you’ve completed the mission objective.
Lastly, resources for upgrades aren’t fun to gather. You can collect them by breaking down cards, getting them from supply-run missions, or randomly finding them around the Abbey. I still have cards that have yet to be upgraded because resource management felt like a slog. Midnight Suns definitely has you prioritizing which hero gets what first.
Otherwise, Midnight Suns is definitely one of the best superhero games I’ve played in a hot minute. It might not be a team-based beat ‘em up, but that’s what makes it so special. Firaxis definitely deserves all the praise they’re getting for breaking Marvel (and even themselves) out of a mold.
Review Disclosure Statement:Midnight Suns was provided to us by 2K Games for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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Marvel's Midnight Suns Review - Firaxis Breaks the Mold
Marvel's Midnight Suns Review
It’s easy to look at Midnight Suns and blow it off for not being something we’re used to getting. However, Firaxis has crafted a fantastic experience with a crew of not so well known superheroes. Even the developers themselves have expanded their repertoire by trying something entirely new as well. As far as Deck Building RTS games go, Marvel’s Midnight Suns hits the nail on the head and obliterates it in the best way possible.
Combat is a fantastic combination of deck building and real time strategy elements.
Attacking doesn’t just rely on cards in your hand.
The Hunter is a fun, new character that makes the player the protagonist.