Marvel’s Midnight Suns I Can Be A Fan, A Hater | Popgen Tech
I tend to end up with the Martin Scorsese side of the superhero craze—“The problem is amusement park movies,” he said in 2019—and so I agreed to enter Marvel’s Midnight Suns feeling bratty. The tactical role-playing game, that was delay twice before finally landing its current December 2 release date, is from adored XCOM creators Firaxis Games, but even that association of dignity still wasn’t enough to dull what I found too cheesy superhero shine. I was wrong, though.
To put it in amusement park terms: oh my! This game is happy! You mainly control The Hunter, the son of sexy demon woman Lilithback on tour afterwards the evil paramilitary group Hydra has been resurrected and released him in New York City. In response, the Avengers and goth kid sorcery group, the Midnight Suns, bring you back from your century-long hiatus to kill your over-the-top evil mother a second time. You return to the Abbey, an old, magic mansion in Salem to train, go through portals, and go on adventures with your new superhero friends, who don’t quite know what to do with you yet.
The game is a bit of a stuffed spice rack, but the game’s turn-based combat is what convinced me to invest. You can play both story-centric and unrelated optional missions and organize your team against the forces of Hydra, or special enemies like the slaver, thawed alien Venom. Each of your heroes has two cards in their moveset that correspond to different attacks, such as a whip that knocks down villains or a forced punch to the stomach, but a typical fight requires more of a strategy than just picking your most punishing card.
Cards either pay out or give you “hero points,” which you can spend on flashy cutscene moves or use on environmental attacks, like jamming your fist into a flashing that electrical box for an explosion. You have to use hero points thoughtfully in pursuit of your goal, which can be as general as defeating all enemies or as specific as disarming a helicopter in three turns.
As you progress through the game and level up or edit your heroes’ moves, battles become more complex, with armored enemies holding on to powerful cards until you knock them down, passive attacks that you have to answer, and Venom throws huge pieces of metal at all your good guys for some reason. The combat is beautiful to look at (although I found the game’s graphics to be pointless), bursting with box-office explosions and hungry fire, and successfully completing a battle made me feel pretty smart and satisfied.
I spent most of my six hours of game time fighting, but Midnight Suns much more to offer. There is a character creator, hero customization, and room decoration. There are mushrooms to pick, clubs to join, and gifts to collect and give. At one point, Tony Stark directed his cry baby blues at me and asked me for help because, as the game taught, “a superhero’s life is complicated and sometimes they could use some advice.”
I know that all of these elements (and I haven’t even mentioned the skill upgrades, the tarot card collections, the cinnabar hell hound that you pet to gain arcane knowledge, etc.) feel like sparse, but in my short time with the game, I felt they flowed together as natural, predictable parts of everyday life in the vast stone Abbey. Released from a 300-year-long coma, you travel through space-melting portals to battle soldiers alongside super humans and super witches. So, sure, why shouldn’t the average day involve cards with a vampire Blade and a “rare swimsuit” as a reward?
Pretty stupid. It’s fun, but it’s still a Marvel game and pretty stupid. The Hunter, who you can put in one of two body types but are referred to as “them” or “them,” start the game wearing a Joan of Arc-ish armor set, but then you learn that their last diary was written in 1703. The game is meant to wander into the “darker corners of the Marvel Universe,” says its Steam description, but that really means fantastical, PG-13 Marvel comedy (“Sacred or not, geometry be damned,” said The Hunter. sometimes as part of, I think, an anti-math stand-up set) and opaque references to demonology that won’t shock you unless you’re really old enough for PG-13 joke.
For me, someone who doesn’t get seriously involved with Marvel comics or movies because I personally need parental permission, there’s a lot Midnight Suns‘ the thick lore stood beside me. I know who the main guys are, like Iron Man and Doctor Strange, but there are absurd references to “Agatha“and”The blood” no meaning. I imagine Midnight Suns‘ the story will appeal to fans of lesser-known Marvel heroes, such as the characters the mutant Magik and flaming skull Ghost Riderbut even though the detailed conversation options try to make their history accessible, I don’t bite.
That’s OK, because there’s more to play with. This game is summer in Coney Island, crowded, sometimes, with kitsch, but it turns out that I don’t mind self-indulgence.