8 Reviews liked by Darnduf

First time experiencing this game and I knew it was something different from anything else. The bosses alone are mad fun and satisfying to defeat. Highly recommend this classic

Super Mario 3D World is a pretty damn good game. It's built like a 2D Mario game with power-ups and linear levels, but with 3D Mario mechanics. It's like butter and toast. I didn't like having to go back and replay levels just to get green stars to progress, but that's my only real gripe.
Bowser's Fury, AKA the real reason I bought this game, is a great addition to the Mario universe and a spiritual fusion between the open area design of Odyssey and the mechanics of 3D world. Amazing.

This game was not on my radar whatsoever, as someone who played XCOM 2 for a few hours and wasn't grabbed by it. I'm a big Marvel fan and the fact that this had Blade, Ghost Rider, Wolverine and other favorites of mine was definitely exciting though. Still, I didn't think I'd ever play this.
I felt intrigued to watch some gameplay eventually when Dave from PlayStation Access had lots of good things to say about it, and suddenly felt very interested by it. I never do this, especially when a game is on sale for only a little less than full price, but I bought it. I barely even buy games I really want to play when they're on sale for half off! I don't know what compelled me to do this, but it was one of the best chance purchases I've done in a long time.
Simply put, I love this game. You get engaging, tactical strategy battles with various ways to take out enemies and make your heroes work together. You get a fun story with rewarding character engagement, great voice acting (IMO) and lots of Marvel references and lore. You get a cool little open world area (keyword: little) and a cozy main hub to explore, find collectibles, resources, and cosmetics. It's all wrapped up in this addicting package that I was hooked to for weeks. I seriously had to pull myself away from this to do chores, get work done, and go to bed. It has a day and night cycle so it has this "one more day", "one more battle" feel. There's always more abilities to upgrade, more missions to do, more hangouts with your heroes to engage in.
The customization for players here is immense, you can choose what abilities, attacks and skills work for you and disregard what you don't like. You can alter hero costumes and what they wear around the main hub area. You can change your difficulty to go harder, or scale back if you're getting your ass kicked; you get higher difficulties as you progress, and it's very risk versus reward. It's a game full of menus, systems and choices that feels daunting, but is introduced in a way that you'll never not understand what you're doing and how you'll navigate it.
The main player character, The Hunter, is a pretty by-the-numbers "chosen one", and both their appearance and their attitude/personality is chosen by the player. There is a standard light/dark path that can be followed, allowing for different abilities, perks and costumes to be unlocked for both. I went light, because I'm not choosing the asshole replies to my hero pals, although to get the Platinum Trophy I started a New Game + file and went full dark. Took me a few hours, I just blasted through story missions, using a ton of dark abilities and of course choose dark for all dialogue options, which I hated! At one point I was a total dick to Captain Marvel and she said "Ouch, Hunter..." with an upset face. My dark Hunter was a prick and I hated that asshole!
I think I'll definitely get the DLC at some point so I can revisit this great game with some new heroes (Storm and Venom I am definitely super interested in).
My unfortunate downsides with this were some glitches; both heroes and enemies fell through the floor a few times, unable to be used or attacked. Also some visual glitches, after using a big screen-filling hero combo sometimes the color of the screen would change to a bright yellow. It would go away eventually, but it was still annoying. The game doesn't look incredible graphically, you'll see people clipping through the environment, walls, and each other, and sometimes there will be a delay or hiccup from characters in battle. I thought the graphics kind of fit with the fun superhero comic-book style of the game though, it didn't have to look super realistic.
All in all, this was a HUGE surprise for me, and I couldn't wait to get back to this game every time I stopped playing. The battles were both fun and challenging, the characters were great to spend time with, and exploring the grounds unlocking items and side quests during a day/night cycle was a nice added touch. It felt very Persona 5 to me (another game I love).

yo this was actually pretty good.
It is nowhere near perfect, but I quite enjoyed my time with it.
Everyone I knew showed next to no interest in this game after they learned it was a card game but I stayed optimistic, and I am honestly glad I did.
They kept calling it "a mobile game" and after playing the game i can confidently say.... yeah I can kinda see why lol.
Let's start with the story though, surprisingly deep, and long.
The story follows your OC teaming up with the Midnight Suns, some avengers, an x-man and Spider-man to defeat the mother of all demons and it, is, awesome. The story goes for a solid 20-ish hours, even longer if you go for all of the side stuff of which there is quite a bit to do, whether it's the surprisingly big hub area or the many challenges you can partake in, it'll be awhile before you run out of things to do.
I will say I found the ending... not so much disappointing, but slightly lacking, like it does kind of just end without much of a bang, but still enjoyable.
The gameplay? y'all ever play Marvel Strike Force? think kind of like that but much better, flashier and more in-depth.
This game really does require some brain power at times. The card system is easy to pick up yet hard to master. it can be punishing yet rewarding. It can also be VERY flashy at times which is awesome.
they do a very good job at making you feel like a super-hero with you being able to just decimate enemies and environments with big attacks.
They also do an incredibly good job with making each character feel unique and useful in their own ways. Every game i wanted to try new characters and combinations to discover new strategies, even towards the end I hated sticking to the same characters because I just wanted to play as all of them. I also loved that I was still unlocking characters like 15 hours into the game, it kept everything constantly updating, giving you new things to try which was very much appreciated. The enemy variety was surprisingly wide as well, and I loved the progression of first meeting an enemy and dreading them to absolutely kicking their shit towards the end of the game.
The mission structure does get kind of repetitive at times, but you get given so many options on what you wanna do next so you're never doing the same mission back to back which helped.
As mentioned, the hub world has a surprising amount of stuff for you to do, with it being the primary way to get cosmetics and certain abilities. Each area having it's own secret little story to uncover which was nice.
There's also friendship stuff you can do with each of the character's like a traditional RPG. You can go on Hangout's and do events with different character's to gain friendships which can get you cosmetics and abilities, and while it is kinda cool befriending all of these iconic characters... why can't I fuck them? Like, I know why I can't because it's marvel. but with this stuff it's usually romances you're building towards, and then sex. Like I want to fuck Nico behind Spider-Man's back and get punished for it. but alas, only friendships, which was inevitable, but disappointing nonetheless.
To be completely honest I don't really have any complaints. Like yeah, the game is long, but I enjoyed that, gave me lots to do. Yeah the missions can get kinda repetitive, but I neevr got bored of the flashy animation style so it kept it entertaining. All the cosmetics looked really cool, the hub was fun to explore, the story and all it's side plots were all entertaining and engaging.
This is honestly just a really solid game that I highly recommend if you love Marvel, especially the supernatural side of it, or if you just love card based strategy games cause this, is really solid.

Excellent game with amazing combat.
Just wish you could level up friendship in a more straightforward manner.

I usually play just a few contemporary ‘zeitgeist-y’ AAA games a year - when in the weeds with indies, art games, and retro titles, it’s a bit easy to turn one’s back on the chorus of what actually funds the spotlight budget on the medium. As much as, for me, the beating heart of games is the romantic concert of those projects which question the context of interaction within defined systems interrogating thematic concern towards the ideas of choice, ill-portented rationality, gasping deprivation, and other hard to mention excitations of the spirit that can be considered less dangerously in the antiseptic environment of digital reproduction than the cruel world of necessary application, the reality of the games industry is that the actual viscous muscle which pushes through veins ichor are the massive, corrupt, lowest common denominator infatuated blockbuster title games. We can say in all seriousness that the games which matter most are the heartfelt, earnest, no ulterior motive itch.io micro-games about things like desperate backroom abortions, archival practices in the Middle East, or the history of an individual family’s cooking, but the titles which are the most congregated matter/makeup are the games about shooting, looting, and rooting for the US government. I say this with no happiness about the fact, but it is a fact - Nintendo or Bioware may not be the ones who push many, or any, envelopes these days, but they codify where the postage can be sent.
All that said, and that’s usually about the word count that can be dedicated in good faith to thematic discussions of any AAA game’s themes, Firaxis’ Midnight Suns brings enough polish, spectacle, and distillation to ideas that have percolated in the indie scene since their last major release. Slay the Spire, Into the Breach, and, I’ll say it, Ladykiller in a Bind, combine with an egregious amount of bloat (which is nonetheless compelling for longer than it has any right to be) to make one of the more exciting and accessible tactics games that has come out in the past few years. While it doesn’t have the depth of any of its influences, and certainly nowhere near the strategic complexity of previous Firaxis games, it does have some truly delightful pageantry that sets it uniquely, expensively, apart from the games it cribs.
Midnight Suns’ truest success comes in a small mechanical dictionary that appends itself to so many of the systems interlocking and rewarding overlapping play; if Into the Breach is the better three member team strategy game, Midnight Suns at least is the more verbose one. The many status effects and terms of ability may seem on their face like a minor part of strategic play, and indeed in other games with statuses like bleed, vulnerable, or frenzied do tend to backseat those effects to turn order and damage numbers. I think that, however, these small appended terms come into the major arm of MS’s strategic play precisely because of their second layer order of application to the major elements of both the base play and the mission play. The ‘set-up’ portion of the game, the interactions between heroes and exploration jaunts throughout the abbey grounds, reward with new collections of potions and item recipes that largely enforce a system interplay between the terms of application that the enemy hordes and your own heroes are tackling each other with. You are assembling your arsenal, as well as building relationships (in an albeit facile and kind of insultingly childlike way), throughout all the downtime periods of a play session, and with the ability to quickly launch a mission and complete it in 5-15 minutes, immediately reaping and bearing witness to the benefits of exploration and narrative play. It’s an integration of non-exclusively mechanical systems with the hard numbers play that Firaxis didn’t really engage with in any of the XCOM games, with an exception to the Chosen DLC for 2 that began a ramp up into what they do here in Midnight Suns.
Of course, the play with the heroes is the draw that makes the above order of mechanics work, and on that front, Firaxis still has excellent heads on their hydra. The different uses and mixes of their roster, including both in how it is made spectacle and how it works on the spreadsheet of the backend, really does nothing short of amaze when considered beside the simple and pandering superhero action of the last two decades that must have been heavy on the designer’s minds. What could have been a pathetic MCU smashup of variously strong people having minorly different HP and damage numbers is instead a varied and widely developed cast that all mix and match with enormous spread and possibility. Nico, Wolverine, Magik, Hulk; all play with each other and on their own in ways that offer totally different tactical assumptions and varying feelings of accomplishment when tackling goals. Say you are on a defeat all enemies mission - a real basic ‘knock-out’ order (whose idea was KOs anyways? as if being shattered into dust after flying through limbo only rendered one unconscious): maybe you take Captain America, Hunter, and Ghost Rider, leaving the battlefield strewn with enemies absolutely beaten to a pulp with massive damage crumblers after turtling up and prepping for turn one; maybe you take Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, and Magik, gathering all the enemies together with little moving plinks only to take them down with a flood of AoE spells that have been buffed with free play cards and heroic multipliers. Both of these squads ultimately end up doing pretty similar things - dealing damage and buffing - but the progression from deployment to departure by way of the different strengths and weaknesses of team composition legitimately do transcend the vague progression of number climbing that can plague turn-based team tactics.
Of course, as has been said elsewhere, the tactics are the highlight in a lowlight totalised experience. While there is more to agree with in this sentiment than not, and I say this as someone who’s primary access to art remains through novels, poetry, and theatre, I don’t think that the writing which is so criminally derided is pablum. There is definitely far too much of it, and the conversations don’t flow with the tone of the work as it reaches its third act; I wouldn’t say the self-consciousness of the heroes is asinine but it is childish when compared to the confidence that is displayed in the tactics portion of the game. Nevertheless, when considering the source, the dialogue is a worthwhile representative of the source the characters come from. I think so much of what people expect from superheroes is from the poisoned well of cinematic universe storytelling, but Midnight Suns clearly draws far more from the comics, for better or worse, than the movies, if it draws anything from the movies at all. The little hangouts are so Chris Claremont it hurts, and you just know that the plotting is more Walter Simonson or Kurt Busiek than Russo brothers - and over this is a sheen of Bendis that even the Ultimate universe didn’t shine with. Maybe people forgot that superhero stories are soap operas with tights and tanks, but Midnight Suns sure remembers.
The real problem with the game is that which I started with: it's a AAA whale game. There is too much here: between foraging, combat puzzles, making friends, deploying on side missions, researching, crafting, decorating, and petting cats and dogs, the game just has too many tasks over too long a campaign to both remain consistently engaging or competitively challenging. I played on Heroic 2, which I think is basically a very hard or hard mode - it’s 2 degrees above normal difficulty, and I was mowing through every encounter after maxing out the friendships of my heroes, collecting all the mushrooms, and opening all the money/gloss boxes around the grounds. In a less bloated game that had half the runtime, I would have bumped up the difficulty to engage more aggressively with the tactics, but after 40 hours of the same enemies and the same Hydra bombs, the tactics being harder would just be tedious and not engaging. If I’d been barely scraping by on 15 hours, the game could conceivably be called a masterpiece of economy and tension, but like Tony Stark, at the end of the game, the player has accumulated all the capital a small country of super people can generate, capital which can only be used to manipulate hot aliens and vampires into punching their problems away instead of thinking their way through them.

This game got me back into MCU (along with Snap). Plenty is shared with XCOM, mostly the good stuff, and the card-based combat feels satisfying. There is almost too much game here, the campaign easily spanning over 50 hours. It can get a bit repetitive when you are just trying to progress the story. The dollhouse aspect is pretty great and varied, with a lot of unlockable costumes and color palettes to customize your heroes.

Mechanically this game has a lot going on, and most of the systems are interesting, although the combat itself can get rather repetitive. It’s an excellent game to play when you’re multitasking; filling out the world’s enormous maps and doing otherwise laborious side quests is a decent enough time killer when you’re watching something on TV in the background.
I don’t care about anything this game has to offer when it comes to its story or characters. Typically where the Xeno series flourishes, XC1 is weighed down with bad voicework trying to hold up an even worse script. At no point do I care about any of these people, and for a 60+ hour JRPG, that’s an issue.

0 Lists liked by Darnduf