Marvel’s Midnight Suns Review

Entrusting Firaxis, a studio to which we owe the XCOM series, among other things, the development of a strategy game whose stars would be Marvel superheroes was a fantasy for tactical game enthusiasts. Marvel’s Midnight Suns is however only half convincing, as we will see.

It starts like Diablo IV

The game begins whenHydra manages to wake Lilith, the mother of the demons, from the slumber in which she had been plunged for many centuries rather by the sacrifice of her only child: Hunter. Overwhelmed by the power of this new enemy, the Avengers have no choice but to enlist the aid of the Midnight Suns, a group of more marginal heroes made up of Blade the vampire hunter, Ghost Rider version Robbie Reyes, X-Men Magik and finally Nico Minoru from the Runaways. Together, the two teams must assist a newly resurrected Hunter to fight Lilith and her armies and prevent her from fulfilling the Sol Noctis prophecy that would bode no good for our world.

Boo!

Boo!

This is not an XCOM

Let’s get the question out of the way immediately: although the game is developed by Firaxis, Midnight Suns is not XCOM in the land of superheroes. Here, the fights take place in small arenas and you fight with cards, turn-based. Roughly summarized, the game system is all about using standard cards on weak enemies to earn heroic points through which you can use much more powerful heroic cards to eliminate more serious threats. Obviously, it’s more complex than that when you look at the system more closely. First, you only have a limited number of actions per turn. Actions that are not individual, depending on the cards you have drawn, you can perfectly not use one or more members of your team at all. But this action limit, low at first sight as you will often be outnumbered, also has its subtleties. Some cards are free while others have attributes that allow you to redeem an action point. Better, certain actions do not consume action points, but only heroic points, because the superheroes do not hesitate to swing decorative objects on the troops of HYDRA which are on the way.

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One question: do you know how to fly?

Very quickly, we understand that the other important element of the fights of Midnight Suns, the one that justifies the reduced size of the arenas, is the notion of projection. Superheroes oblige, the majority of our characters are able to stick potatoes to enemies capable of projecting them on something else. At first, we will send them on the elements of the decor or on their little comrades, but after a few training sessions, we can also project them on our other heroes to inflict a little more damage. The result is fights which, despite the slowness of the many attack animations, certainly do not lack punch. Overall, the fights of Midnight Suns are much more interesting than one might have thought at first glance. Each hero has his own style of play and it is essential to combine them well to create a deck whose cards synergize effectively.

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I can do this all day

Let’s summarize. Each mission involves 3 heroes, each of them bringing their own deck of 8 cards, making a total of 24 cards. A total to which are added special cards, which can be specific to the characters (the Binary card of Captain Marvel example) or specific to the mission, such as special actions that you will be able to perform. Finally, there are also ultra-powerful cards that combine the attacks of several heroes, if your affinity with them is high enough. Don’t panic, however, it’s still quite simple to manage in combat. A selection of cards from the global deck is assigned to you each turn and a played card is not discarded permanently. The deck is divided into three large families of cards: attack cards, so-called “technical” cards providing buff, debuff or other effects and finally the heroic cards we have already talked about. Don’t panic, everything remains surprisingly accessible and it has never happened to me in more than 40 hours to have a situation where I had nothing to play during my turn. We can also salute Firaxis for having well designed skills directly related to the specificities of the heroes who use them. Thus, Magik creates portals like no one else while Captain Marvel has a much more naughty side. And it must be admitted that being able to summon the Ghost Rider’s car to crush his enemies has a small effect.

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Hunter at superhero school

If the combat system therefore ultimately works rather well, I am more divided for everything concerning the rest of the game. Indeed, a large part of the game takes place in the Abbey, an area in which Hunter and his companions can rest between assignments. It is in this base that we can modify the decks of cards or personalize our heroes. Above all, this is where Midnight Suns allows us to socialize with the other characters around us through fireside chats, dates under the stars or small gifts offered. Far from being anecdotal, this part allows us to improve our level friendship with those who accompany us in battle, which makes them more effective in battle. However, it is often talkative and if the Marvel fan has fun with the winks of the dialogues, the others are especially likely to find it quite heavy.

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In practice, it is true that we spend almost more time on our little daily routine at the Abbey than fighting Lilith and her henchmen. Because in addition to this social aspect, there is a purely practical part to life in the Abbey. We will thus spend part of our time every day with Stark to discover new skills, with Strange to unlock research that will improve the facilities of the Abbey or with Blade for training. A routine that can also be extended to the land surrounding the Abbey. They can be explored to collect the resources necessary for the manufacture of useful objects in combat, but they also contain numbers of journal pages or other tarot cards to discover. Not to mention a few other mysteries. All this further reinforces the extremely slow side of the adventure.

A technique between two ages

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This test was done on the PC version of the game, so I’m going to say to all of you who play on that platform: if you’re having serious performance issues and pervasive sluttering, try running the game without skipping by the 2K launcher. On my configuration, it was day and night. It is in any case clear that the technical part of Midnight Suns blows hot and cold. Thus, the attack animations during the fights are excellent bills, giving a very spectacular side to the most powerful of them. Conversely, as soon as you drop the costume to join the Abbey, you have the feeling of stepping back in time. Between the textures which are sometimes sorely lacking in detail and the frozen facial animations of certain characters, we are far from level. This somewhat old-fashioned side is also found in the staging of the dialogues, which are often flat and where the characters are content to deliver their dialogues in a succession of shots/reverse shots.

Money Man

Impossible not to address the issue of character customization in a superhero game. Yes, Midnight Suns offers to buy, with very real money, costumes for the characters. Besides that, the game includes a whole section of customization that you can buy with a currency (shards) that you get as a reward for your missions. A greater or lesser amount depending on the difficulty. So everything’s OK ? Let’s say that we have to qualify. First, customization via shards goes through the chests that are found everywhere in the Abbey and its surroundings. Opening these chests with a dedicated key unlocks customization options (does this principle remind you of anything?). Finally, “unlocks the ability to buy them” is more accurate. The formula is therefore quite random and it should be noted that these are often color palettes which sometimes only bring a very slight modification to a hero’s armor.

The Premium Appearance Shop

It is also disappointing to note that the customization options when creating the character of Hunter are reduced compared to the possibilities that are unlocked during the game. And we may find it a little mean to see that these same options suddenly become paying (still shattered) once character creation is complete. Conclusion, yes, you can customize your heroes without spending real money, but the game does not forget to tempt you with paid premium skins, they.

Conclusion

Marvel’s Midnight Suns is a title that I found semi-successful. We will without hesitation put its combat system in its strengths. Dynamic and spectacular while remaining accessible, the game does a good job on this side. On the other hand, I am less convinced by the social part of the game. Wanting to replace the classic base of an XCOM with a hub that you can browse in third-person view was an idea that could have been interesting. But his impact on the rhythm of the game and his technical realization in the background end up serving the game.

Test carried out by Grim on PC from a version provided by the publisher.

Marvel’s Midnight Suns Review – A Part-Time Superhero Game