Marvel's Midnight Suns

More info »

Marvel's Midnight Suns review
Quinn Levandoski


A Licensed Game Done Right

The New And The Familiar

Marvel's Midnight Suns has had a fairly strange path to publication. After an announcement, then a delay, then a partial reversal of the delay, some fans were wondering if the game was suffering from some unforeseen issues or wasn't ready to release in an acceptable state. Fortunately, having spent my time with developer Firaxis Games' latest strategic skirmisher, I'm happy to report that Midnight Suns is an absolutely delightful love letter to fans of both the Marvel Universe and turn-based tactics games in general.

In many ways, Midnight Suns is exactly what fans expected when the developers of XCOM announced that they'd be working on a project with the Marvel IP. It's not fair to call Midnight Suns a reskin or even a spiritual successor to those earlier projects, but there's definitely a familiar skeleton beneath everything new. Here, players take control of The Hunter, an original character, as he or she teams up with a plethora of established Marvel mainstays to stop the demon Lilith from taking over reality and mentally enslaving all that stand in her way. The plot and story beats are fine, but they largely exist to explore various corners of the Marvel Universe and the heroes that operate within them.

Additions To The Marvel Universe

While part of the reason is surely to de-gender the name, Firaxis Games has stated that the reason they've switched the titular spelling from Sons to Suns is to show that this is a fresh interpretation of the team, including a unique cast of characters. Indeed, the playable roster is a nice mix of fan-favorite familiars from the comics team (like Blade and Doctor Strange), popular heroes not normally associated with the Sons/Suns (like Captain America and Iron Man), and characters that have only been featured in small or less popular projects so far (Nico Minoru or Magik, for example). The mix is handled well, and I enjoyed the banter and subtle jabs between heroes from different famous teams. Gameplay aside, everyone is likely to have favorites based on their design and personality.

One selling point of the game is that players will be creating their very own Marvel hero to act as the central protagonist of Midnight Suns. Unfortunately, among the fantastic and diverse group of known heroes, The Hunter was a bit of a bore. Disappointingly, there really isn't too much customization to be had. At the start of the game, gender, skin colour, and hairstyle are selected. After that, The Hunter isn't really any more customizable than anyone else. Players can choose to steer The Hunter towards light or dark via conversation options and power usage, but the core power set and personality largely remain the same. Furthermore, I just didn’t find The Hunter that interesting. She's (I made mine a woman) centuries old and the daughter of Lilith, but she also has the classic and cliche "I'm super stoic and don't want to warm up to anyone until later when I do" personality that just made her dialogue, to me, pretty dull and uninteresting. I'd have much preferred if the game focused on the established heroes instead.

It's Not All About Fighting

More surprising than the roster of heroes was discovering that Midnight Suns is very much more than just the card-based combat that's been showcased in marketing material, and whether or not that's a good thing is going to vary from person to person. Players will get to know their teammates in a place called The Abbey, a huge estate housed in a pocket dimension that serves as living quarters, a research facility, and training grounds. After each mission, players spend a significant amount of time in The Abbey engaging in some light exploration, friendship building, training, research, and more. This section of the game is controlled like a third-person action game, and there are also elements of exploration and item collecting to be done.

In theory, I like The Abbey a lot. I'm the kind of person that absolutely loves the world of Marvel comics, and it was cool spending time just chatting with various heroes to learn more about the version of them present in this game. I also enjoyed building friendships via training and hangouts that led to bonuses in combat. However, there's no denying that the ratio of combat to non-combat is skewed in the latter's favour more than it probably should be. I frequently just wanted to jump into a mission because I was either pressed for time or just didn't feel like running around The Abbey. While some of The Abbey content is optional, a lot isn't, and I think that the game would have been better served by making more of the exploration and dialogue a bonus or more spread out instead of where I spent most of my playtime.

Non-combat moments are brought down a bit by the animations and dialogue being a bit of a mixed bag. In combat, everything from characters to environments to effects looks fantastic. With the visuals amped up to Ultra, the colors are bright, the textures are sharp, and the particle effects on energy beams, spells, and more made me feel like I was right in a big fight from a Saturday morning cartoon. However, during conversations, the facial expressions are pretty robotic, lip-syncing isn't always spot on, and movements can be a bit stilted. Some heroes are voiced better than others (Blade and Wolverine were great), and others felt more like impersonators than voice actors doing their own thing (Iron Man really irked me by sounding like off-brand RDJ).

Intense Superhero Combat

However, whatever my mixed feelings about The Abbey are, I was completely in love with the game every time I was in combat. Differentiating it from similar games like XCOM or even the modern Shadowrun trilogy, the battlefields are mostly quite small. While sprawling city blocks or towering building floors may seem fitting based on what fans are used to in the MCU or pages of Marvel comics, fights are generally contained within a fairly small room or playable space. While it bummed me out a bit initially, I actually think it was a great call. It turns the fights into more of a chess match, and it puts an emphasis on positioning and environmental interaction that would be less impactful in bigger spaces.

The card system is also awesome and functions well. Midnight Suns has a unique combat system that mixes an action point economy with deck building, and they’re presented in a way that really makes them work together. Using specific characters or engaging with them in The Abbey unlocks cards that are put together into decks of eight. Then, in missions, the decks for each character are mixed together. Instead of each character having a turn, there’s a collective turn for the team, and any mixture of heroes cards can be used. Keeping the decks small means that the deck building isn’t overwhelming, and the team sharing a turn minimizes clutter from having to manage multiple different hands at once.

While the scale of fights is relatively small, the intensity is not. Every punch, slice, or blast has immense weight behind it, and the use of environmental hazards truly makes the fights seem super. My only gripe with how combat works, and it’s more of a nitpick than a major flaw, is that defensive positioning doesn’t really exist for the most part. There are some obvious uses for moving, like getting an angle to knock enemies into each other or positioning them for a powerful vaulting strike, but it's almost exclusively an offensive tool. With some exceptions, enemies don't generally have any range limits on their attacks. That being said, I get it, as it keeps the fights more aggressive and cinematic while certain abilities offer cloaking, shielding, and other defensive tools.

Marvel's Midnight Suns is an interesting mix of exactly what players expected and some surprising curveballs. Combat is just as tight and tactical as fans of the XCOM series have come to expect from the developer, and the wonderful cast of Marvel heroes are all fantastically fun to play. The game would have benefitted from pulling back a bit on time spent in The Abbey, but, even then, there’s still value for people interested in the Marvel Universe. Midnight Suns is clearly a passion project from Firaxis Games, and that heart comes through in the little things. It's an easy game to recommend, and it stands among few others as a great example of what Marvel games should be moving forward.

As always, follow us on Instagram for news updates, reviews, competitions and more.


fun score


A great assortment of playable heroes, the card system works well, combat is great fun


The Hunter is fairly dull, too much time spent in The Abbey