Marvel’s Midnight Suns on PC
Turn-based deck-building games have been all the rage recently, with titles like Slay the Spire and Monster Train showing just how fun the genre can be as long as it’s got unique gameplay mechanics. Despite this, I was still skeptical about how well this would work in a game like Marvel’s Midnight Suns, especially in its first few hours.
Unfortunately, Marvel’s Midnight Suns starts off a bit lackluster. Initially, combat is pretty bare bones, with only a few cards in your deck to use and just a couple of characters to pick from.
It doesn’t take long to pick up how this title’s specific gameplay method works. You’re given a set amount of cards that can be played, coupled with a heroic meter that needs to be filled in order to play some of the more powerful cards. Using these cards, you can either defend or buff yourself and your teammates or attack or nerf enemies.
Other variables like movement spaces and environmental attacks play an important role when you get the hang of things, as you can dish out serious damage by using your surroundings with knockback cards. This definitely takes a while to get going, though, and it’s a bit of a slog to get through the predictability and bad writing that plagues the characters and story, especially at the outset.
You’re placed in the shoes of a blank-slate character named Hunter, who is resurrected to stop Lilith — an evil witch — from taking over the world. Regardless of whether you pick a male or a female for this avatar, everything is pretty milk toast about them, due to the fact they can only pick a light, dark or neutral option when going about dialogue.
This isn’t really that big of a deal, as it’s pretty common to come up with creatable characters that are just vessels for the player to experience the story. The problem is that when you couple Hunter with the early story beats of Lilith’s cliché motives to take over the world and the dreadfully quippy dialogue from just about every character you have on your team, you find yourself wanting to skip just about every cutscene you see.
Seriously, if you think the MCU has a problem with unnecessary comedy, then the first hour of this is going to hurt, as Robby Reyes, Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange, and Tony Stark all can’t go five minutes without cracking a joke. These work against the serious nature of the narrative. It’s really hard to take Strange’s heartbreak about losing the Sanctum seriously when he delivers like five jokes alongside it, for example.
It may have something to do with the high bar set by God of War Ragnarok that I had just finished before hopping into Midnight Suns, and the gravitas that every conversation and cinematic in Kratos and Atreus’ touching story carries. But I just couldn’t help but roll my eyes at almost all of the dialogue that came out of these characters’ mouths in the game. There just has to be more to these characters than simply being one-dimensional wannabe comedians.
Thankfully, the cringiness that comes with some of the conversations you’ll have with some of your favorite characters doesn’t change how badass it feels to play as them in Marvel’s Midnight Suns. As the game progresses and more cards are unlocked, characters really feel like the unstoppable forces they should be.
At one point, I was able to almost knock out an entire platoon of enemy units simply by combining counter abilities from other characters with Captain Marvel’s taunt and shield passives that go with so many of her cards. Then, when it was her turn to do some damage, she wipes out the rest of the field with an area of effect Proton Beam that literally tears up the ground when fired.
These types of fun combos are where Marvel’s Midnight Suns really shines, with what seems like an endless amount of deck-building variety when approaching battles. You can go heavy on attack and build a Hulk team that focuses on strength, or you can diversify your three-man unit and bring characters along that have specific roles.
I usually ran with Hunter, Magik, and Captain Marvel, as it was a perfect support, DPS, and Tank combo. Hunter heals and does a little damage, Magik draws them into a centralized location with cards like Limbo Portal and Trap Door to help control the board, and Captain Marvel takes and dishes out the damage once they are in the best spot, thanks mostly in part to her Go Binary ability that increases her attack, grants extra perks, and gives her a ton of Block. This is just one of the hundreds of different combos you can come up with regarding the 13 different characters that make up the roster.
Alongside tightly-knit combos and characters that complement one another, Marvel’s Midnight Suns also has a really great relationship-building mechanic to help make you even more OP in combat. Whenever they’re not on a mission, Hunter can complete side quests and chat with teammates at the Abbey, the game’s hub world location.
When they complete the quest or choose the right dialogue for that specific character, Hunter is rewarded with materials and an increase in their relationship level with whatever member of the roster assigned it. The higher a relationship level is with a character, the more damage they’ll be able to do when combined with Hunter on the field.
As cool as it is to become besties with Blade, though, it is a little disappointing that you can’t actually have romantic relationships in Marvel’s Midnight Suns. It just feels like if you could, there’d be an extra layer to the dynamic of the characters and story of the game, as well as Hunter.
Games like Fire Emblem: Three Houses have proven how important the ability to have relationships are to players in the past, as it just makes the characters feel more relatable as you get to know them more intimately and see them in a more vulnerable light. Without it, though, I rarely found myself getting sucked into the world of Marvel’s Midnight Suns outside of combat. The Abbey is pretty boring and one-note, even with all of the team-building events they try to incorporate into things.
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More often than not, I found myself rushing to go on a quest simply so I could get back to enjoying what the game does best. To be fair, there are also issues regarding mission variety in Midnight Suns, particularly on higher difficulties. There’s a bunch of quests you’ll need to go on in order to get supplies to help improve your cards and deck. On lower difficulties, you can get away with avoiding some of these, but those looking for a challenge will also likely see their playtime balloon as they take on these quests to compete with your enemies in combat in the latter stages of the game.
Speaking of difficulty, it’s also a shame that there isn’t a permadeath option in the game. Sure, there are lots of different settings that you can change to if you crave a good fight, but the only incentive being a little more material to build more cards or improved character relationships doesn’t really seem good enough.
Alongside a challenge, Permadeath would also really add stakes to each battle, as you’d want to plan and calculate your every move perfectly so that your favorite characters could die. It’s obviously a tricky mechanic, but we’ve seen it work before. I’m still not over losing my loved one/romance option from Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and I wish the stakes felt just as high in Midnight Suns, too.
Despite some of these shortcomings, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is still a blast to play, as you get to really experience what it’s like to be a powerful superhero, thanks to excellent gameplay mechanics. It’s just a shame that they didn’t flesh things out just a little bit more when it comes to the world and how it wants to tell its narrative and portray these iconic superheroes, as that would have made it a truly elite game in the genre.
- Combat feels super satisfying.
- Lots of different character combos and decks to build.
- Relationship building with the characters that also adds to gameplay.
- Dialogue is about 80 percent jokes and quips, making characters feel too samey.
- Mission variety and the Abbey are lacking.
- Lack of romance in relationships.