Marvel’s Midnight Suns Review – Next Time, Don’t Invite The Avengers
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is the latest AAA comic book video game to hit shelves in 2022, putting a tactical, card-based twist on the superhero genre with a healthy dose of RPG gameplay. It boasts some compelling action and character moments, with players assuming the role of The Hunter and other Marvel heroes as they battle Lilith, whose resurrection threatens to end the world. Unfortunately, despite its turn-based combat largely succeeding, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is mired by technical issues, awkward characterization, and the intrusive presence of the Avengers, who end up gatecrashing the Suns’ story, turning it into another generic Marvel misadventure.
When it comes to Marvel teams poised for a big-budget video game, the Midnight Suns probably aren’t the first that spring to mind. The team, usually comprised of horror hero icons like Ghost Rider, Blade, and more obscure figures like Daimon Hellstrom, is a throwback to Marvel’s ’90s supernatural heyday. The group has reassembled sporadically in the decades since, but has never approached the popularity of The Avengers or X-Men. Any adaptation should lean into the horror – the weirdness – of those unique comics, rather than absorb them into the snark-based maw that is Marvel post the MCU.
On at least one of those fronts, Marvel’s Midnight Suns could be considered a success. The game’s story revels in the sillier elements of Marvel’s supernatural heroes, and the core team dynamic of the Suns – comprised here of Blade, Magik, Nico Minoru, and Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider – largely works. The main issue is that the Avengers end up diluting the supernatural flavor of the game, inserting themselves into a story they really have no business appearing in, as they bounce quip after quip of “well… that just happened” dialogue off each other. The Midnight Suns themselves will regularly remark to Hunter how bothered they are by the Avengers’ presence – as if they too are aware they’ve been muscled out of their own adventure.
Despite the irreverent nature of the game’s dialogue and story – which proves to be a tonal mismatch for figures like Blade – there’s a lot of great character work accomplished in Marvel’s Midnight Suns‘ roster. As Hunter, players can forge relationships with both the Suns and the Avengers, and making key breakthroughs in these exchanges leads to rewarding cutscenes. This is made all the better by the fact that it’s up to the player to develop – or even destroy – these relationships, and that it’s not just as simple as choosing the right or wrong dialogue option.
Midnight Suns stops agonizingly short of letting players romance any of the Marvel heroes, but these exchanges do yield the occasional tasteful bit of fan service, with pool-side lounging the closest players will likely ever get to a revival of the Marvel Swimsuit Special. A system like this would arguably be more at home in a Marvel’s X-Men game, but it’s still fun to explore in the context of the publisher’s supernatural comics.
The real highlight of Marvel’s Midnight Suns, though, is its actual combat gameplay. Developer Firaxis Games has honed its craft in the genre over successive XCOM titles, and the results of this new card-based twist do much to redeem the stale story. Departing from the genre’s tried and tested action-adventure gameplay, Midnight Suns instead takes a turn-based approach, allowing players to assemble up to three heroes at a time to take on intricately arranged scenarios that can easily end in failure if they don’t play their cards right. The chess-like nature of these encounters makes for a refreshing change of pace compared to the likes of Batman: Arkham, Marvel’s Spider-Man, or Gotham Knights, and all the heroes get their own beautifully animated moves to dismantle Lilith’s forces with.
Sadly, for all that the combat of Marvel’s Midnight Suns is gratifying to play, the game as a whole is let down by a raft of technical and performance hitches. This reviewer experienced upward of 20 crashes while playing a PlayStation 5 copy of Midnight Suns, with most triggered by autosaves and reloads, resulting in hours’ worth of lost progress. The opening cutscene loaded in the incorrect aspect ratio and at 480p, while character faces in-game regularly suffer from blurred textures. It’s doubly frustrating because, by and large, Marvel’s Midnight Suns looks great and is genuinely fun to play – it’s just let down by some bad technical issues.
While there’s a lot to love about its RPG elements and card-based gameplay, Marvel’s Midnight Suns ultimately frustrates too much to be considered a true genre great. Its compelling supernatural premise and gameplay are undermined by MCU-style snark and a disappointing lack of polish, making it land with the impact of a low-charge Iron Man repulsor blast and not a well-timed hit to the face from one of Ghost Rider’s patented Hellfire chains. Firaxis Games’ title may be fun to play, but its story serves as a disappointing reminder of how Marvel’s identity has been homogenized by a decade of formulaic silver screen dominance.
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Marvel’s Midnight Suns is available now. Screen Rant was provided with a PlayStation 5 code for the purpose of this review.