I don’t know why many players and even media representatives decided that Marvel’s Midnight Suns is some kind of XCOM about superheroes. It’s clear that this is a Firaxis Games game, and everyone was expecting another variation on the XCOM theme from Firaxis, but not this time. So, again, don’t be fooled – this is not XCOM, but a completely different and actually very good game. Although, of course, there are still some XCOM elements in Midnight Suns.

Game Marvel’s Midnight Suns
Genre RPG/Strategy Card Game
Platforms Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 / PlayStation 5, Xbox One / Xbox Series X/S
Languages English
Developer Firaxis Games
Publisher 2K
Steam, Epic Games Store, PlayStation

Typical Marvel

The plot of Marvel’s Midnight Suns is no worse, but also no better, than in any movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I would say – typical Marvel. Hydra brought Lilith to life, yes, the powerful witch, mother of demons, queen of the night and all these things. Lilith decided in turn to return to Earth one of the Elder Gods, Chthon. Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and the other Avengers didn’t like this very much, but as it turned out, in order to defeat Lilith, it was necessary to revive one of her children, the one who once killed the mother, but also died themselves. Said – done. With the help of Lilith’s former girlfriends and a group of teenage superheroes from Midnight Sun (sort of a hodgepodge of characters from Runaways and some other comics), they open the sarcophagus of the Hunter/Huntress, Lilith’s child, who was raised as a living weapon against their own mother.

The guy/girl who will become the main character of Marvel’s Midnight Suns has spent more than 300 years in a coffin and is a bit disoriented, but quickly comes to their senses and begins to help Strange, Stark and others hunt for Lilith. But, as it usually happens, everything is not so simple.

Add drama

Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a traditional Marvel drama about the relationship between children and parents. Here is the attitude of the Huntress (I played as a female character and according to the lore of the game, the Huntress is the main character, so I will use the female gender from now on) to her mother, and Lilith’s attempts to return her child, who is set against her. There’s also the Huntress’ relationship with her adoptive mothers, the Caretaker Sara (she’s Lilith’s sister and the Huntress’s aunt), and the witch Agatha Harkness (yes, the one). The relationship between the young heroes from Midnight Sun and the legendary Avengers, who do not allow talented youth to express themselves, and generally behave like grumpy parents.

Also, add to the mix Marvel’s traditional long (sometimes century-long), more like a failed love-hate relationship between sworn enemies, several traitors, willing or not, on both sides, and you understand that there is enough drama in Marvel’s Midnight Suns…

Other Avengers

Firaxis Games did not license the images of actors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so the characters you seem to know well look like complete strangers in Marvel’s Midnight Suns.

Among the famous characters here are Iron Man, Hulk, Blade, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Wolverine and Scarlet Witch. Deadpool, Storm, Venom and Morbius should be added to the DLC.

Less well-known young heroes, whose leader becomes our Huntress, are: Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes (this is the third Ghost Rider), Magik (in the ill-fated film The New Mutants she was played by Anya Taylor-Joy) and Nico Minoru from The Runaways. Formally, the Scarlet Witch also refers to the Midnight Sun, but everything is complicated there.

In fact, the fusion of famous and lesser-known heroes turned out to be not bad, and the decision not to license the images of actors from the MCU actually seems to be the right one.

No misses

What annoyed you the most about XCOM? That’s right, stupid point-blank misses that even became a meme. Forget it, in Marvel’s Midnight Suns, every shot, throw, and hero skill is 100% accurate and deals exactly the amount of damage listed on their map. Randomness simply has no place in this game, every mission here is a completely logical tactical task, a kind of card sketch (chess players will understand what I mean), which has a solution. But, unlike the chess sketch, it is not one.

As you already understood, the main game mechanic in Marvel’s Midnight Suns is card battles. For each task, you can take up to three superheroes (except for some story tasks, where there can be several groups), each of which has 8 cards in the combat deck. Attacks, normal and heroic abilities, at least one card of each type. Some cards in a game give a local equivalent of mana, “heroism”, while others require a certain amount of heroism to use.

In fact, the Midnight Suns card portion is very well balanced, the difficulty levels are variable, and the combinations of different characters, their skills, relationship bonuses, training, items, and the Huntress collar (don’t ask if you don’t want a spoiler) add a lot of variety to the fights.

In each mission, and you can complete only one task per day, you must take one mandatory hero and two optional ones. You can’t even send the Huntress to non-plot missions, but it’s still worth doing to develop relationships between the characters.

For each turn, the player can play only three cards, but thanks to fast and free cards, as well as bonuses, even seven or more cards can be laid out at once. In addition, the battlefield itself plays a very important role in Midnight Suns.

The fact is that many cards in the game have an enemy push bonus, and if you push it into another enemy, both will receive additional damage. If you push away an enemy into a tank with fuel, it will explode, if into the abyss, the enemy has a chance to fall, and so on. So the sequence of use, the goals, as well as the “flight” trajectories are of great importance in this game. Just believe me, sometimes you can remove 3-4 enemies from the field with one well-placed throw of a stone or a lamp post.

The tasks in the missions are quite diverse. Sometimes you just have to knock out (no killing, how is that possible!) all the enemies, sometimes you have to hold out for a certain number of moves, knock the boss out several times in a row, capture the opponent, steal information, and so on.

The use of abilities and attacks themselves have very cool animation, especially the combos of the two heroes, and add some dynamism to the seemingly calm card game. The way you sweep several opponents off the field with a successfully thrown box, and then they also crash into the walls… that’s something.

So you got it, the card combat part is done perfectly in Midnight Suns, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if soon many developers try to copy it.

Your superhero Tamagotchi

But unfortunately, tactical card battles are only a small part of Marvel’s Midnight Suns. There is still a lot to do here and maybe it would be a very interesting additional activity…if there weren’t so many of them. A lot. Very, very much.

It seems that not superheroes gathered in the Abbey, but some capricious children whose parents did not pay any attention to them at the time. Yes, most superheroes have difficult relationships with their parents. But… Midnight Suns characters talk too much. That’s just too much. There is so much dialogue, cutscenes, and various text in the game that you will spend literally hours discussing with other characters their childhood, your childhood, relationships between groups, fears and apprehensions, love interests, and so on and so forth.

And here you have to study the mysterious Abbey itself and find out its secrets, participate in the book club and magical rituals, “hang out” with other characters to maintain and develop relationships (not even a hint of sex, a clean friend zone), pay compliments to others, buy gifts and clothes, pet your demonic dog and mysterious cat every day, hang pictures in your own bedroom… This is not a game about superheroes, but some kind of superhero Tamagotchi.

That is, some of these conversations help develop the plot and get to know the characters better, but… there are a LOT of them. It gets ridiculous. A fight can take 15 minutes, and running around the Abbey and talking to NPCs will take 45 minutes. You can’t do that, my dear Firaxis Games, why hide the best part of the game, the action, behind the tinsel of everything else? To pass the time? Not the best decision.

Customization as a fetish

Players like to customize their characters, said someone at either Firaxis Games or 2K, so let’s give them 100,500 peacetime outfit options, some battle costumes, plus 100,500 color options for each. Let them open everything for a separate currency. And if that is not enough, here is also an in-game shop with costumes for money. You love it!

Yes, Firaxis Games, we love customization within reason, but what you’ve done in Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a bit out of line. This is not customization, but some kind of color fetish.

Just remove it!

Marvel’s Midnight Suns uses Unreal Engine 4 and looks actually pretty good for a card strategy game. In part, even artistic techniques from comics are imitated here. The animation is nice, the lighting, as for the strategy, is great, but… the game slows down terribly and freezes. I actually thought it was my already old computer that couldn’t handle the graphics, but no, it turns out that the game is being held back by… the official 2K launcher. It is the most useless thing that runs on any PC version of the game and tells you to… buy Marvel’s Midnight Suns! Ingenious!

In Steam, with the help of some simple manipulations and launch parameters, the launcher can be turned off, in the Epic Games Store, unfortunately, this cannot be done… And I have the version of the game from EGS.

Not XCOM, but still not bad

The last few chapters might give the impression that Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a bad game because I’m unhappy with some aspects of the project. Yes, dissatisfied! But I spent almost 100 hours on this game, completed the campaign and stayed to finish the mundane missions to develop the characters’ relationships. The really, really cool combat makes up for all the game’s flaws, even the stupid 2K launcher.

But, once again, pay attention. Marvel’s Midnight Suns is not XCOM. It’s not exactly a turn-based tactical strategy at all. It’s a card game, a visual novel, a quest, and even a dating simulator all in one. A wild mix that not everyone will like, but if you already like it, then most likely you will stay here for a long time.