Marvel’s Midnight Suns stands out with an ambitious premise. Imagine a game that combines the strategic depth of the XCOM series with a card-battle system reminiscent of popular titles like Slay the Spire and Inscryption, all set in the Marvel Universe.
This is exactly what Firaxis Games delivers – a game that’s not just a sum of its parts but an entirely unique, personality-rich experience with cleverly designed systems.
I can’t quite believe just how good it is, truth be told. I’m about 18 hours in, and I’m seeing this ride all the way through until the end. I wish I’d played Midnight Suns sooner, it would have been a game of the year contender for sure. Will it hit 2024 GotY?
First things first: this is not your typical turn-based strategy game. Forget micromanaging positions or stressing over shooting percentages. Marvel’s Midnight Suns forgoes these for a card-based system. You’re not just playing with superheroes; you’re playing with their abilities, encapsulated in a deck of cards.
The game’s core lies in its deck-building mechanics, where creativity meets constraint. Players choose three characters for each battle from an expanding roster. Icons like Captain Marvel, Iron Man, and Wolverine are all playable, each bringing their own set of eight unique cards. These decks, totaling 24 cards when combined, are randomly drawn in each round, creating a dynamic and unpredictable combat experience.
The essence of Midnight Suns is in the individual character decks. Here is where you shape the battlefield tactics and express your strategic flair. As the game progresses, you gain new cards, constantly refreshing your tactical options. Whether it’s Spider-Man ensnaring enemies or Blade dealing devastating bleed damage, each hero feels distinct. But the game also allows for flexibility, letting you tailor your trio to suit your playstyle.
As the card pool expands, so does the game’s depth. The early stages might feel limited, but patience pays off. The satisfaction of stringing together powerful combos in a single turn, dealing massive damage or turning the tide with strategic card plays, is unmatched.
Midnight Suns’ overarching narrative feels a bit lackluster. The storyline, featuring a demon named Lilith and the evil Hydra, seems too familiar, echoing the classic X-Men setup. But what the main plot lacks in novelty, the game makes up for with its focus on personal hero stories and the social dynamics at the game’s hub, the abbey.
You’ll create a character, The Hunter, who, despite a somewhat uninspired personal story, becomes the linchpin in the game’s engaging social interactions. Here, the game takes a leaf out of Persona 5’s book, offering relationship-building activities like joining Blade’s book club or helping Ghost Rider with his hellride. These interactions aren’t just for show; they have tangible benefits, unlocking new abilities and cards.
I’ve seen a lot of gripes with the social interactions breaking up the action and I get it. I love the combat and want more more more. However, this seems to work somehow. I’m as engaged with my hero relationships in Midnight Suns as I am with deck building.
It’s twee, sometimes cheesy, but I can’t get enough of it. It’s fulfilling a gameplay need that I didn’t realise I had and I think that, because it’s easy and breezy, it flows well.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns truly shines in its blend of intricate card play and relationship-building. The voice acting is top-notch, and the interactions at the abbey provide a perfect counterbalance to the tactical gameplay. It’s a game that confidently steps out of the shadow of XCOM, offering a distinct and remarkable experience.