Play enough games, and you start to develop an eye for the ones that are going to demand a lot of your time and focus. Within minutes, I knew Firaxis’ comic book-driven adventure with Marvel superheroes would be one of those games, replete with multiple currencies, cosmetics, and gameplay systems. Midnight Sun is a strategy/RPG of tremendous depth, character development in both storytelling and upgrades, and many dozens of hours of gameplay to uncover. While the repetitive nature of the storytelling structure is sometimes a chore, the combat is top-notch. It injects the slow-paced XCOM tactical experience Firaxis is known for with its gamma-powered boost, creating rewarding battles that stay fresh even after you’ve immersed countless hours into the experience.
An ancient evil has awakened, threatening to plunge the world into the darkness of an Elder God’s malice. Familiar heroes like Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider and Captain Marvel have no choice but to resurrect the long-dead Hunter who once defeated the threat hundreds of years ago. You control this resurrected hero as he leads Earth’s Mightiest Men against this menace.
Combat follows the turn-based tactical loop of Firaxis’ XCOM games, but abandons the vast battlefields and chooses card-based action inspired by cover points and deck-building gameplay for tighter arenas. Each character has an array of card attacks, skills, and heroic abilities that take advantage of their unique talents, and it’s insanely fun to stack each character deck to greater heights of dominance.
While there’s plenty of time to carefully consider each move, the action tends to be more bombastic and faster moving than in more tactical games. Each card has a special animation that emphasizes the uniqueness of the character, and the battles look beautiful when they are played. Wolverine returns from a fresh knockout. Magik’s portals are sending enemies across the field. Captain America hoists his shield to bounce among the hapless Hydra forces, taunting them for taking him on. And everyone jumps over obstacles, throws boulders and destroys explosive barrels to add to the chaos – just like any good cinematic superhero fight.
The complexity of this system increases over time, gradually adding layers of objectives that you can face or unique enemy mechanics that you must overcome. You may be asked to damage a helicopter before it takes off or face a demon that calls forward observers each turn which must be smashed if you don’t want to be overwhelmed . Delve deeper into the game, and you’ll also start to see some engaging puzzle challenges where you’ll need to complete a specific task using only certain cards or other obstacles. Firaxis built a strong and exciting combat engine and found many ways to keep it fresh and engaging.
Between battles, you return to the Abbey, a vast social and exploration space. Here, you can upgrade and train your heroes, create new combat items, and unlock an impressive array of cosmetic tweaks for characters and home decor. The abbey grounds also feature a mystically infused adventure filled with cryptic clues, mysterious treasure chests, and story fragments about the past; This leads to some intriguing discoveries but can sometimes distract from the flow of the main story.
The Abbey also serves as a giant friendship simulation, where you slowly play out interpersonal drama with the likes of Spider-Man and Blade. The dialogue selection (and the option to choose light or dark conversation responses) is reminiscent of BioWare games like Dragon Age or Knights of the Old Republic and can sometimes come across as overly simplistic. A metric ton of these interactions unfold over the course of the game; Each builds their own position with these individuals, which in turn reflects their abilities during battle. I focused mostly on character development. But with games this big, I eventually grew tired of the rote loop of dialogue after every mission, some of which devolved into exchanges of monotonous dialogue that would be more at home on a reality TV show than a superhero adventure. .
For all its focus on supernatural magic and demonic threats, Midnight Sun is a fun and thrilling ride. XCOM strategy fans won’t be disappointed; The format change still results in a gratifying combat flow. But it’s a more approachable and story-driven experience than Firaxis, which is filled with some of the most recognizable pop culture heroes of the moment. It’s big, boisterous, and sometimes a little silly, but like most of Marvel’s best output in recent years, it’s also a good time.