I have been super excited for Midnight Suns ever since it was first announced. A Marvel game made by XCOM devs Firaxis where I replace my nameless troops for iconic superheroes? Sounds awesome to me! However Midnight Suns has very little in common with XCOM and while that might have been disappointing for a lot of people looking forward to the game, for me the game we got is somehow even better than Marvel themed XCOM because we got a Marvel themed Mass Effect/Persona/Slay the Spire hybrid instead and it is a game I never knew I wanted so bad until I actually played it, but more on that in a bit.
Let's talk about story first because as with all RPGs that is the primary focus and the bulk of your 50 to 100 hour runtime is going to center around it. Everything I'm about to talk about happens within the first hour so this is spoiler free btw. In Midnight Suns the big bad is Lilith, the Mother of Demons who was recently resurrected by Hydra mad scientist Doctor Faustus. Lilith's goal is to herald the second coming of the eldritch Elder God of chaos, Chthon (Basically the Marvel equivalent to Cthulhu) and bring about the end of all creation as we know it and to do this she creates her own army made up of mind controlled Hydra soldiers, corrupted super villains such as Venom and Sabertooth and of course her own demonic forces as well. The Avengers are no match for Lilith so who can stop her?
Well that is where the protagonist of our story comes in. Enter The Hunter, a Commander Shepard-like blank slate for the player to customize as they see fit in the form of an ancient demon hunter from 1,700s Salem and the prophesied chosen one to stop Lilith. Oh yeah did I mention The Hunter is also Lilith's child and is in a constant struggle between the light and dark powers inside of them? No? Well they are and that makes for a very compelling and emotional dynamic between the main hero and villain. I personally found the tale of The Hunter and Lilith to be more entertaining than 99% of the MCU. That is not to say the story is not without its tropes that plague nearly all superhero media, but the amount of unique charm and passion put into this story is simply undeniable and helps it stand out from its contemporaries.
The main plot is simply put, batshit insane and almost feels like it was torn right off the pages of a classic Silver Age comic to be portrayed as a campy B-movie in the best way possible (With all the one-liners and over-the-top action that comes with the territory). I know I'm in the minority when I say this, but THIS is the kind of stuff that I wish the MCU did more of (Precisely the reason Multiverse of Madness is my fave movie in the MCU), Midnight Suns is a game that was made by people who clearly have a deep love and understanding of exactly what makes the medium of comic books so fun and enjoyable and they transferred that Marvel(ously) into a video game with tons of over-the-top action and set-pieces that a silver screen just couldn't do justice.
With all that said the main plot is merely half of the game because as I mentioned earlier this game takes a lot of inspiration from Persona (or Fire Emblem: Three Houses or Trails of Cold Steel etc) and when you're not experiencing the crazy tale of Hunter and Lilith you'll be at your base of operations known as the Abbey which is essentially a magical boarding house for all the heroes to stay at and while in the Abbey The Hunter can do many things (Which I'll come back to later), but the most important one is bonding with your fellow heroes by doing social link style mundane day-to-day events including everything from playing video games with Ghost Rider to Meditating with Doctor Strange or just having a drink at the bar with Iron Man. I also want to mention aside from the day-to-day events there are also special side quest club-like activities you can follow at certain times through the whole game like joining a shop class with Iron Man and Ghost Rider or a book club with Blade and Captain Marvel.
During these hangouts you get a variety of dialogue choices and choosing the right one will help build your friendship meter with said hero. The dialogue trees themselves remind me of a classic BioWare RPG like Mass Effect or Dragon Age and there's even a light and dark system which changes how different characters view the Hunter and also give the Hunter new powers, cosmetics and various passive buffs in combat. As your Hunter hangs out with the heroes they will slowly get closer and open up to you more about their backstories, inner conflicts and likes and dislikes and everything between. Firaxis basically came as close to making a dating sim without actually making a dating sim (There is some light flirting though) and the Hunter can essentially become BFFs with any hero they max out their friendship with, some say the way the friendships progress comes across as very fanfic like, but personally I think it comes across as pretty organic and natural due to the Hunter's backstory and history being relatable to many of the heroes in various ways.
Midnight Suns is a game of many tones and it flawlessly executes them all, managing to capture that ridiculous over-the-top 70s campy comic book style in the main plot, yet knowing when to get suitably dark and emotional as well, but the best and most unique part of it all has to be portraying such a great down to earth vibe with the friendship and team building mechanics that show all the mundane day-to-day events between heroes during your down time from the main plot. From Avengers to X-Men, Runaways, the titular Midnight Sons and more this cast is absolutely stacked with some of Marvel's best and coolest characters and we get to see as friendships bloom between them, rivalries form and various team conflicts happens and that's just the tip of the iceberg, just walking around the Abbey after a mission you can listen to heroes have casual conversations with each other and there is even an in game text messaging app all the heroes use which provides some great interactions.
This one game did a better job of making all these characters feel like a family than 20 movies in the MCU did and I know that's in no small part thanks to the fantastic voice acting performances which really helped to capture all the characters personalities, the fact those personalities are closer to the comics than their MCU counterparts and also most of these characters are voiced by the main actors who have been voicing them for years like Yuri Lowenthal as Spider-Man or Steve Blum as Wolverine definitely helps too. Even the characters with fresh voices were done justice like Michael Jai White as Blade or Matthew Mercer (If you play as the male Hunter which I did) as the voice of the Hunter themselves and hearing Jennifer Hale as Lilith was always a treat as well and that's just a few examples out of this massive cast too because everyone gets ample opportunity to shine. Fun fact: Btw this game has over 60,000 lines of unique voiced dialogue and it shows because the characters never ran out of things to say for me even after 80 hours.
So remember how I mentioned you could do many things at the Abbey? Well aside from bonding with your fellow heroes you can also explore the fairly sizable overworld map of the Abbey grounds which other than a small tutorial is completely optional for those who don't want to however you'd be doing yourself a disservice since I found doing it to be very immersive and rewarding because it expands the world-building and connects to a side quest which reveals more mysteries about the Hunter and their past through various documents and lore that can be found on the grounds through some light puzzle solving. There's also a decently in-depth resource management and crafting system and you can find treasure chests which unlock tons of new cosmetic options for the Hunter and skins for the other heroes.
I focused on the story, characters world etc first because this is an RPG and there was a LOT to talk about and with this game I believe Firaxis has established themselves with BioWare, Obsidian, Atlus and Falcom as one of the best RPG makers so I wanted to really go in-depth about why I believe that, but If you're still reading and you made it this far into the review it is finally time to talk about the combat system and honestly it's just as amazing as everything else this game has to offer.
With Midnight Suns Firaxis has created one of the most fun and enjoyable tactical combat systems I've ever experienced. On the surface it doesn't look like it has a lot of depth, but the more you play the deeper you realize it is. Like I mentioned earlier this is a card based combat system like Slay the Spire and every individual character has their own unique play style and set of ability cards which perfectly represent them and their unique set of abilities from Captain America drawing agro, taunting enemies and building up his resistance to Blade applying bleed and using life-steal. You can build everyone in so many different ways as you unlock new cards and level up characters by completing missions, throw in team combo attacks, using the environment and positioning of your characters to your advantage and there's just countless creative options and I barely even scratched the surface. Also the RNG of the cards keeps battles fresh even after 80 hours and the fact all the characters are well balanced and no one isn't fun to use makes this combat system so addictive. This is the natural evolution of the Slay the Spire style and I hope more games start using now. Also want to mention the attack animations are over-the-top, flashy and have all the impact one would expect from such big name heroes and I never got sick of watching them.
I almost forgot to mention the OST, but that certainly doesn't make it bad, on the contrary it is quite great. The main theme is very triumphant, heroic and reminiscent of Alan Silvestri's Avengers Theme while some other tracks you hear around the Abbey have a more whimsical and magical Danny Elfman feeling to them and the battle themes really pump you up being a a mix of orchestral and metal/rock instruments, the final battle theme which is my fave track in the game and essentially instrumental symphonic black metal.
Midnight Suns is simply put, the best comic book game I've ever played and it isn't even close. Midnight Suns was everything I ever could've dreamed of and more. As a fan of classic Marvel comics, immersive RPGs with tons of dialogue, world-building and character bonding, tactics games and card games, Midnight Suns vastly exceeded my expectations across all fields becoming a truly one-of-a-kind experience and amalgamation of a bunch of my personal favorite things that it almost feels like this game was manifested from my own thoughts.
I'll admit it has performance issues, the graphics look outdated by 2 generations and I'm sure a lot of people would get bored by how slow the story progresses (especially early game) and how grindy the missions can be, but I love everything about this game so much that it feels like it was tailored to my own personal tastes and for that Midnight Suns won't be for everyone, but I can certainly say it is without a doubt one of my favorite games of 2022.

Reviewed on Dec 20, 2022