While many might pull up their nose at the idea of a turn-based RPG featuring iconic Marvel characters, Marvel’s Midnight Suns was actually one of the most delightful games I played in 2022. The game forced me to sit down and engage with characters I had only seen in movies and comic books. It forced me to strategize unique card-based battles as I weighed up stats, reshuffles, movement and attacks.
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is so “out there” when it comes to superhero games that I can’t recommend it enough. Evenings went by as I played through countless missions. At times I even spent entire days trying to fight through some tough battles only to force myself away from my preferred roster of fighters and finally win with heroes I seldom used.
But Marvel’s Midnight Suns isn’t your average turn-based strategy game. In fact, there are so many layers to this experience that tie together a robust RPG and team management system. It also packs a blockbuster original story with some of the most incredible cinematics and sequences I have seen from a Marvel game in ages.
You start off Marvel’s Midnight Suns as an original character awoken to fight the forces of Hydra. Along the way, the goal is to rid the world of Lilith and her no-good doers. Lilith’s return means that some of the iconic villains in the Marvel universe have also turned into demon spawns and her army of Hydra goons means you have enough meat to slap around during the combat phases.
While Marvel’s Midnight Suns doesn’t have a set goal of recruiting new heroes, the story naturally adds new Marvel faces to the roster throughout the campaign. However, these additions do take some time to get to given how much stuff happens between each mission. There’s a lot of team management to undertake in the game when you’re not punching Venom atop a block of flats. A lot of Firaxis’ XCOM juices are felt in these systems. Certain dialogue options enhance the friendships of teammates while other choices make them dislike you more.
Everything outside of the combat takes place in a safe haven called the Abbey. It is here where the team you recruit live and go about their daily lives. These activities are directly influenced by your actions and you can go ahead mingling with the squad. Be it watching TV together or taking a peaceful walk through the woods. Not only do these moments expand the backstory of each character but they also enhance your friendship ranking. In turn, certain abilities get stronger and new crafting features are unlocked for that said member.
I won’t deny that these moments do drag on a bit longer than I wanted them to. I spent 60% of my time walking around the Abbey performing certain chores, speaking to people and exploring the various hidden mysteries around the grounds. However, it all helps in some way or another so in the end, the chore work paid off. I was also forced to get to know these superheroes and in particular, their personalities. In turn, I had to know how to respond to each of them. For example, Magik enjoyed it when I was rude and blunt. Other characters like video games and Wolverine drinks beer.
You can kind of understand how deep these systems go in Marvel’s Midnight Suns and the sheer amount of admin that has to take place in order to bond with every single character on the grounds. Besides the TLC stuff, Marvel’s Midnight Suns also expands into combat enhancements and research tasks that all evolve the Abbey into a streamlined and functional HQ. It takes a while to get there but it is just another piece of the pie.
Where all of this pays off is in the game’s combat and best of all, I actually felt every single thing I did in the Abbey. Combat revolves around a card battle system that ties together the luck of the draw and the characters I decided to take with me into the field.
At the start of a fight, a handful of cards are drawn which dictate the first round of combat. Cards come in various forms. Some require Heriosim while others are simple actions that grant Heroism once used. Without even looking at the technical systems such as items, movement and buffs, you need Heroism to succeed so a typical mission revolves around using cards to pull off more powerful moves… Once you have the card of course.
Thankfully, you can customize each deck of each character. While it is limited at first due to the lack of new cards, later in the game I managed to unlock and earn much better, more technical cards.
Heroes are also given certain roles but these don’t necessarily dictate how to use them. Spider-Man, for example, excels when knocking out an opponent. Most of his cards grant various benefits if used to KO an enemy. Iron Man’s decks mostly revolve around using a redraw to power up that exact card. Given you are only given two redraws each round, I also had to take into account what I actually wanted to withdraw.
This goes even deeper as some cards can be used for “free” when certain items are used. We then have the battlefield that offers combat opportunities and the enemies that all come with their own stats and combat styles.
What starts out as a simple “draw cards and use them” soon becomes an incredible showcase of mechanics that all layer on top of each other to create a fantastic combat system. Every mission had me sitting and working out “ifs” and “then” before initiating certain moves. I had to force myself to think about the dangers of using certain cards and how the future turn will play out if I did.
Not to mention the game doesn’t shy away from throwing a curveball your way either. Enemies start to get more technical too. Some stun your heroes, some protect items which you have to steal in order to win the mission and later on, various effects all come into play that drastically changes the flow of combat.
Sure, Marvel’s Midnight Suns features the superheroes we have seen save the world in the past but the characters in the game are far from the invincible machines we know. Basic goons won’t shy away from beating down Iron Man in a few hits. Every decision, every move and every play of a card has to be carefully thought out because of this. In true XCOM fashion, save, save, save!
Marvel’s Midnight Suns turned out to be a delightful experience that took me by surprise. I had no idea it would be so technical. Not to mention that everything I did wasn’t hidden behind some cumbersome menu system. The fact that I could walk around the Abbey and manage the game’s mechanics helped keep me going. It made the interactions with the world and characters much more enjoyable too. Not to mention that “setting off” on a mission meant putting that all to the test.
This Marvel’s Midnight Suns review is based on codes sent to us by 2K Games. It was reviewed on the PS5 version of the game. You can pick it up starting at R1150
Marvel's Midnight Suns
Story - 9/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 9/10
Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a delightful RPG that encourages deep team management across a blockbuster story set across the Marvel universe. It is more than just a “card battle” and could be one of the better Marvel games this generation.
Deep team mechanics
Story is great
Some visual hiccups