Midnight Suns Review: If only mediocrity was a superpower

Who's your best super friend?

I've been a die-hard fan of XCOM-style turn-based strategy games since the '90s, so you can imagine my joy when I learned that Firaxis was making a game that leans heavily on those mechanics but with Marvel superheroes. This was a dream come true for me—what can be better than preparing a super-squad for turn-based combat? But as it turns out, Marvel's Midnight Suns is not an XCOM clone, not even close.

Characters

Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

The characters are the most important selling point of Marvel's Midnight Suns. It's not every day that I can play as a superhero and hang out with the likes of Iron Man, Blade, Spider-Man, and other supes. It reminded me of the Mass Effect but with more Sims-like social activities. I really never imagined that I'd be taking Blade to fish or Scarlet Witch on mushroom-foraging escapades.

While this can be very fun and novel experience at times, it's off-putting when some of those superheroes are presented out of character. It also doesn't help that some lines of dialogue are cringey, at best. Sounding like a 16-year-old might fit for Magik or Spider-Man, but not for heroes like Tony Stark or Wolverine. For example, Doctor Strange once sent me a private message on a local superhero social network (yes, they have that!), thanking me for taking the time we spent together watching the night sky...

Those activities are not just for show, though, as becoming friends with heroes grants combat bonuses. Hanging out, organizing birthdays, and solving love problems are necessary to unlock the true potential of heroes. But, making friends often felt forced for me. I had to surprise them with gifts, organize movie nights, and have long, personal conversations. It was a necessary step to unlock combat bonuses, but it took too much time away from the action-focused combat where superheroes and their personalities can really shine through.

Score: 3.5/5

Combat

Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

It took me just a few seconds of playing Marvel's Midnight Suns to realize that it has nothing to do with the XCOM combat system. Although it's technically turn-based, the fight in Marvel's Midnight Suns is, in fact, a card game. I won many battles without moving heroes, as positioning was almost redundant. You can move only one hero per turn, and it's essential only for catching better angles for some attacks. But overall, it's not that important. Also, heroes don't take turns with their actions, so I could play whichever card I wanted.

For example, I often played three Blade cards in turn, completely ignoring Doctor Strange and Spider-Man, who were part of the squad. Skill cards are an exciting solution that offers more variations in combat, but more movement would've made the combat feel more dynamic. I wanted to see Spider-Man using high ground and jumping on enemies from above. As it happens, the battlefield is miniature, with randomly placed objects that can be used against enemies. I've used them often, but I still got a feeling that the combat was stagnant.

I saw some of that action in Midnight Suns, but only as part of the combat animation. It had no strategic meaning; everyone just stood around while I played the cards. It's a shame they didn't at least use the system seen in XCOM: Chimera Squad (also a Firaxis game), where the map is small, but the characters could move around.

Score: 3.5/5

Related: How to get Words of Power – Break, Open, Purify, and Reveal in Marvel’s Midnight Suns

Exploration

Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

Marvel's Midnight Suns has three important game segments that make one in-game day: a morning, a combat mission (I guess it's an afternoon affair), and an evening. Before and after the battle, you can explore the Abbey (the base of operations) and the land around it. The exploration acts as a separate mini-game. Besides solving mysteries necessary for the story progression, I collected plants and other resources needed for crafting.

I personally found this game segment boring, as I'm not a fan of farming or resource gathering, especially in a game where I want to spend as much time as possible with superheroes and see some action. This took me out of the experience sometimes, as picking up flowers and mushrooms is not my vision of fighting against evil. On the other hand, solving mysteries was very satisfying, and the fights at the Blood Gates were challenging and fun. I would love more puzzles in the upcoming DLC, as those were the most engaging moments of exploration.

Score: 3.5/5

Visuals and Performance

Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

Marvel's Midnight Suns released in 2022, but you wouldn't know that by looking it. Even in 4K resolution and ultra settings, it felt like it was made in the previous decade. It's not that it looks terrible, but I'm expecting much more than "solid" from a game with Marvel superheroes. On the other hand, the animations are smooth, especially in combat. But again, there is not much movement during battles, so that's not very hard to accomplish.

Characters look good in combat, especially when you unlock alternative hero skins. That's also true for the excellently designed enemies. As always, it's a fun time just see superheroes doing their special moves, although those animations become repetitive after a while. The Abbey also fits visually as the central point of the game. It reminded me of the Normandy ship from Mass Effect, where you could also run around and speak with teammates. I wouldn't call this game a visual powerhouse or impressive by any means, but it gets you where you need to go.

Score: 3.5/5

Verdict - An average superhero game with room to grow

Marvel's Midnight Suns can be a fun experience if you don't set your expectations too high. As a longtime fan of the XCOM franchise and Marvel superheroes, I wanted much more than what this role-playing strategy game offered me. The combat system is excellent but lacks the depth that similar games have. Think of Slay the Spire or Monster Train, and you'll get the idea.

My biggest disappointment definitely manifested in conversations with superheroes, as all parties sounded like teens in existential crisis. I also don't feel bird-watching with Tony Stark is essential while some demon witch is burning Earth to the ground. I hope some complaints will be ironed out with upcoming DLCs. As it stands now, it's a solid game with the potential to be much better.

We received this code from 2K for reviewing purposes.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get updates on your favorite games!

About the Author

I'm an old-school gamer that remembers the first Super Mario, PC games on a single floppy disk, and playing Mortal Kombat on the keyboard.

Write A Comment

Midnight Suns Review: If only mediocrity was a superpower

Comments are on moderation and will be approved in a timely manner. Please read the following rules before commenting:

  • All comments must be on topic and add something of substance to the post
  • No swearing or inappropriate words
  • No asking or begging for anything free
  • Do not attempt to start a poll in the comments
  • Comments in all CAPS will be removed
  • We reserve the right to remove a comment for any reason
  • Do not impersonate a staff member or influencer

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.