In the SRPG Marvel’s Midnight Suns, something wicked this way comes when the infamous, occult-obsessed Hydra resurrects the Mother of Demons, Lilith, beginning a world-ending prophecy. The only thing standing between Lilith’s hordes of nightmarish “children” and the return of an evil Elder God to the mortal realm is a motley assortment of heroes from around the globe, led by the resurrected Hunter, Lilith’s biological offspring. Can the disparate group learn to work together as a dedicated team to save reality as we know it, or is this dark fate preordained?
Marvel’s Midnight Suns became something of a pleasant surprise for me. At first, I was only mildly interested in the title due to my fondness for anything connected to the X-Men line of comics. There are three X-Men characters in the party roster, with two X-adjacent personalities scheduled for the upcoming DLC. I know of the other characters featured in the lineup primarily through their MCU variations or brief guest appearances in things I previously read/saw. I suspected the game might be a fun diversion, not leaving much of a lasting impression. Still, I played Midnight Suns and soon found myself devoting hours to the title whenever possible. It hooked me!
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is not only a fun game but also easily the most “superhero comic book” title I’ve played in a long time! It cements itself as my favorite recent Marvel-licensed RPG, and I’ve reviewed two others for this site. There’s a specific energy in the presentation that screams “comics” while you’re playing: from the slow-motion walk your party takes toward the battlefield to the over-the-top character introductions. The apparent respect and thought put into the lore-building also add to this sentiment. I was pleased by the name-drops for Marvel characters outside the main roster as you play, with the cameo of Bob, Agent of Hydra, as icing on the cake. For those unfamiliar, Bob, Agent of Hydra, is a friend of Deadpool’s who joined the evil organization only because he needed a stable job and hopefully a dental plan. He’s not a central character, but that shows how far Midnight Suns went to include Marvel Easter Eggs and fan favorites. A lot of research went into the world of Midnight Suns. Heavyweights like Iron Man and Captain Marvel certainly have their place, but so do sometimes lesser-known heroes like Nico Minoru from the Runaways or Magik from the New Mutants/X-Men. It’s in providing equal care and attention to all of these featured characters that Marvel’s Midnight Suns truly excels.
Anyone writing off Marvel’s Midnight Suns as merely a “card game” is doing it a disservice. There is so much more to its gameplay. I was curious how using cards in the battle system was implemented before playing, but the overall battle format is very much what one might expect from any turn-based strategy RPG. Before fights, each character has a pool of abilities (for attacks and stat-boosting) to equip to their person. You only have access to a select number of skills, so you must tailor how you want the character to play during combat. Every round of fighting has the game drawing cards from your party’s deck, and you can then choose which of those cards you want to utilize. There are only so many plays you can do per round, though specific actions might grant you extra, and you can only redraw a card twice if you want to take your chances with something else.
Particular activities will increase your Heroism meter, allowing you to use unique Heroic cards when you’ve accessed them. You can also spend your Heroism points to activate environmental obstacles on the field, such as vaulting over large pieces of rubble to damage an enemy or exploding bombs to damage anyone within range. The number of actions and abilities one has access to, especially as you advance in the game and acquire new ones, is quite robust. Every character has a unique playstyle they bring to the field, and you can customize it further for battle. I found immense fun using Wolverine and Ghost Rider to string together powerful chain attacks or using moves with the knockback attribute to send enemies crashing into one another. Even Hero Combo cards occasionally come into play once friendship levels amongst the team become high enough, unleashing devastating unified attacks.
Missions have differing objectives to keep battles from becoming stagnant, such as defeating all enemies, rescuing civilians, or hacking computer terminals. While you start off fighting simple Hydra goons, your enemies become more varied as the plot progresses, ranging from the gigantic Dread Maidens to the support-wielding Nest Mothers. You’ll also have to contend with boss fights against Fallen versions of Marvel villains: souped-up renditions of already powerful foes such as Venom or Sabretooth. There’s a challenge throughout the struggles, but it’s manageable rather than frustrating.
Despite Midnight Suns’ SRPG nature, you only spend about sixty percent of your time on the battlefield. The rest of your time consists of running around your team’s base of operations, a supernatural headquarters called the Abbey. The Abbey grounds hold a wealth of secrets to uncover, including the Words of Power sidequest important to the game’s main storyline involving Lilith and the Hunter. You can gain access to upgrades that help you strengthen or craft abilities, inventing new items to use in battle separate from card skills. In addition, you send heroes out on away missions that reward them and select which assignment you’d like to initiate next. You can also collect Tarot Cards featuring Marvel characters in a fun collectible minigame!
Of course, the most important (and arguably most enjoyable) aspect of Abbey exploration is its opportunity to strengthen your rapport with the various heroes comprising the Midnight Suns. Dialogue options while talking to characters can raise or take away friendship points. Due to each character’s personality quirks, they respond to your choices differently. For instance, Magik appreciates sarcasm, while Captain America prefers a hopeful and positive attitude. At times you can invite characters to hang out, with characters preferring certain activities. For example, Blade likes fishing, while Ghost Rider enjoys playing video games. You can even pick gifts for characters based on their backstories or personalities; if they enjoy that gift, it nets you even more friendship points. If you’re wondering, Wolverine likes Canadian root beer, while Spider-Man appreciates a photography book.
Maxing out friendship points will result in memorable scenes between the Hunter and the selected hero, increasing their proficiency together in battle. It’s encouraged to raise friendship with as many characters as possible because the overall team friendship level adds boosts in combat. Sparring with a character also increases their bond and grants status boosts, and helping do side quests for them is always fun and can lead to ability or friendship boosting. You can join special social gatherings that help increase bonds with the characters: Blade’s book club is this highlight for me, but I adore the EMO KIDS and Shop Class subplots too.
The characters themselves breathe life into Midnight Suns’ plot. I appreciate the attention to detail with all of the team members. Things all come together wonderfully, helping each character stand out, such as there being a dry bar for Iron Man at the Abbey; everyone referring to Captain America as team dad; Captain Marvel and the Hunter bonding over their respective fur babies; Robbie gushing over his little brother Gabe; Magik complaining about her brother Colossus. Except for the last character to join the group, everyone gets a respective moment in the story to shine. I truly enjoyed learning about the characters I didn’t know quite as much about, such as Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider, just as much as I liked hanging out with the familiar ones. Even non-party members such as Johnny Blaze, Caretaker, and Agatha had defining moments. I particularly like Agatha’s story and its connection to the Hunter and Scarlet Witch. I appreciate that they didn’t try to cover up the apparent romance between her and Caretaker.
The Hunter genuinely surprised me with how much of a character they were in their own right. It would’ve been easy having a silent self-insert for your customized player character and running with it, but the developers gave significant attention to their personality. I love the dialogue choices for them and how the Light and Dark choices feel more relaxed and obvious than they might be in other games. I maintained a balance throughout my playthrough and never felt punished for it. Their storyline with Lilith, Caretaker, and Agatha greatly surprised me. I wasn’t expecting Lilith, in particular, to be more than a one-note villain, but the game tries to give both her and the Hunter some added dimension.
Though I can’t mention characters in Midnight Suns without mentioning the show’s real stars, Charlie and Ebony. In true feline fashion, Ebony comes and goes on her terms, but petting her whenever the opportunity arises is undoubtedly worth it! And Charlie is the best-reformed hellhound there ever was in a video game! At first, I thought she’d be just a mascot with nothing to do. Still, the game encourages you to pet her at every opportunity since she has her friendship meter and will aid you throughout quests in the Abbey and even during one vital story mission. Charlie is the best girl indeed!
From a visual stance, Marvel’s Midnight Suns is certainly serviceable. The game has a comic book flair in terms of design, and the supernatural elements can be appropriately disturbing. However, compared to Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers game, the graphics on display could be more impressive. There are also noticeable graphical hiccups during specific battles where character models either sink into the ground or freeze or the camera shifts to an unhelpful angle. From a music stance, the soundscape helps convey the mood of a scene or battle but doesn’t precisely stand out either. The voice acting, however, is genuinely something: everyone gives stellar performances throughout the entire game!
I recommend that you keep the game as updated as possible. I encountered several game crashes when I first started playing. A later update helped curb that issue, but I still had one significant crash during a story scene afterward. It especially made me nervous during the lengthy final mission segment as the game took away the option to save, though fortunately, I didn’t have any issues at that point. Hopefully, other patches will make those odd moments entirely things of the past.
Unfortunately, those glitches and the graphical hiccups lead me to curtail my overall review score. Honestly though? With how much fun I had playing this game and how enjoyable the overreaching plot is, I could’ve scored it higher if it were to overlook those issues. As it stands, I had a blast stepping into the role of the Hunter and getting to hang out and battle with a colorful assortment of Marvel heroes in a supernatural-tinged adventure. I’m already eagerly awaiting the future DLC for Marvel’s Midnight Suns. Sometimes, you do draw a winning hand!