Firaxis and 2K’s Marvel’s Midnight Suns was one of my favorite games of 2022, but it ended up falling by the wayside in 2023. Amid a deluge of great games and an busy year, it was hard to carve time out for the tactical RPG. But as 2023 wound down and with 2024 just days into being, I’ve come back to the game and found myself easily re-charmed by what seemed like a fairly unconventional game.
The Woman Who Would Be Photon
There are plenty of reasons to love Midnight Suns, but all of it is ultimately rooted in just how well it establishes its own spin on the Marvel universe and the characters it has on hand. Much of this can be owed to the game’s social elements—your player character the Hunter has to build bonds with the other Marvel heroes through dialogue, training, and just plain hanging out with them either in the middle of the morning or after a daily mission.
During the social segments, Midnight Suns leans hard into fanfiction sensibilities, which proves to be the right move. An early scenario sees Nico Minoru ask Hunter to help throw Magik a secret birthday party, a thing Blade stresses is a bad idea. Going through with it and not telling Magik leads to a party so awkward that she just eventually leaves and it falls on Hunter to find her. In another, Blade asks Hunter to be a part of his book club so he has an opportunity to talk to Captain Marvel, but Captain America joins the club and ends up thinking Blade’s doing all this to impress him. Bouncing between the various hero cliques and observing them snarking at each other via an in-game social feed has a certain charm that makes it feel equally as substantial as the combat.
Image: Firaxis/Marvel Games
Midnight Suns doesn’t have a romance element, though you wouldn’t know that with the one-on-one hangouts. There’s a very “Friends Being Pals” vibe throughout as Robbie Reyes bemoans being single to the Hunter, or Wolverine says he enjoys spending time with them. Even setting aside the “my OC is best friends with the Avengers and other broody heroes” of it all, it’s genuinely surprising to play a big-budget superhero game where the heroes in question are so open with their feelings. Sometimes with superheroes, it’s a crap shoot as to whether they’ll talk with other people in their circle. But the heroes of Midnight Suns are willing to open up a good amount—either regarding their pasts or their current feelings about the fight against HYDRA and Hunter’s demonic mother, Lilith.
And when they’re not doing that during downtime, they’re sometimes just straight up arguing with each other in a very real way that doesn’t feel like it’s meant to artificially generate tension. The Midnight Suns are technically made up of two groups—darker heroes like Blade, Magik, Nico, and Robbie, and the Avengers as first represented by both Caps, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange. It sometimes falls to Hunter to keep the two teams from going at it, and it’s interesting to see the game let characters like Robbie and Magik have continued hostility for the more marquis heroes. Even Spider-Man, who’s spent the last few years operating as an MCU fanboy, gets to have some complicated thoughts: he wonders if he’d be truly suited to the Avengers life, and when Tony Stark angers Robbie, Peter gets pissed off with Tony and quickly takes the Ghost Rider’s side.
In more ways than one, Midnight Suns is a bit of a mess. It’s a sharp contrast to Spider-Man 2 from this past October, which feels like it’s been fined to perfection at all ends. (How can it not be, when it’s a cinematic PlayStation exclusive?) I loved Spider-Man 2 for that sharpness and what it sets out to do, but I also love Midnight Suns for being not quite as put together. Sometimes, it can be annoying that only one mission can be done per day, or when you have to reload a save (sometimes more than once!) when you realize you’re not as tactics-savvy as you thought in your head. But those imperfections end up making the game hit differently, because when it clicks on a tactics or character level, it really clicks.
Image: Firaxis/Marvel Games
Midnight Suns works because it feels like a Marvel game from a bygone era. During the ‘90s and mid-2000s, there were a number of games like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and Ultimate Spider-Man that were just inherently enjoyable and had a charm about them that let them stand the test of time. The same is true of Midnight Suns: it’s scrappier than its other superhero contemporaries, while equally as impressive as they are.
Midnight Suns is available on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
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