Marvel’s Midnight Sun is one of the most surprising games of 2022, quickly proving that Marvel Games is capable of juggling multiple genres for its titles and is good at handpicking developers, like Firaxis, to develop them. Midnight sunbathing is a new turn-based, tactical RPG that puts you in the shoes of a Marvel original hero named Hunter, who can command a team of some of the comic book publisher’s most iconic heroes. Hunter is also the son of the game’s opponent, Lilith, who ravages Hell using magic and brainwashing other super-powered characters.
True, the plot of Midnight sunbathing is not something very exciting. Based on what I played in the first act, I felt they were typical generic comic book shenanigans. It’s not bad, but as a player I don’t feel the urgency to save the world and stop Lillith. At least the villain had the same sort of menacing look from Enchantress back in 2016 Suicide Squad movie. She’s just kind of a vehicle for the action to happen, and that’s fine. The heroes themselves are as charming as you’d hope with good group dynamics and distinctive dialogue, even if some characters feel like they lean a little harder on their MCU counterparts than others. It also helps that an actor like Yuri Lowenthal reprises his role as Spider-Man Marvel’s Spider Man (it’s not the same version of the character) make sure there’s a familiarity, and you have people who already embody these icons. These games aren’t trying to emulate the MCU, so instead they’ve managed to find extremely talented actors within this industry to try and put that foundation into games for these characters.
That’s all well and good, but the most important thing is the gameplay. Personally, I’m not usually thrilled with turn-based RPGs. It’s not a genre that appeals to me. I like to swing guns, shoot guns, drive fast cars and get caught up in the action. However, Marvel’s Midnight Sun is extremely well made to the point that I was actively excited to get to the next combat encounter. You feel incredibly involved thanks to the freedom of movement, the camera and the action. At a basic level, you are given a hand of cards that you can use on your turns, allowing you to deal damage to the enemy of your choice, give boosts to other cards, heal your allies, and so on.
It’s what you’d expect, but – and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who like Firaxis games – it’s fluid and dynamic. In addition to your deck, you can also move a hero to another place in the battle arena. This is beneficial because certain attacks can be more beneficial depending on the angle you use them. For example, you can jump over a medium-high wall to kick someone in the face, which is part of the more dynamic combat that doesn’t require you to play a card. It’s basically a free attack. You can also use knockback attacks, which send enemies flying back in a specific direction. If you hit them at the right angle, it can send them to another enemy or something in the environment like an exposed voltage box that stuns them and prevents them from attacking on their next turn.
Combat is set up so that you do more than think about which card to use next. You think about where to place your heroes, what order to use your cards in, how to combine them with those more dynamic “free” attacks, and you’re just extremely strategic. Yet it is not stressful. It’s fun and most of all incredibly satisfying when you play metaphorical 4D chess and can execute a number of moves according to plan.
In the end, from what I’ve played (and I still have a lot to do), Marvel’s Midnight Sun scratches a lot of itch I didn’t know I had. It’s a solid Marvel game, but also a well-crafted tactical RPG. If it can keep this up and also keep repeating itself and doesn’t wear itself out by the time the credits roll, we might have a late prize season contender.
Marvel’s Midnight Sun will be released on December 2, 2022 for Xbox Series X|S, PS5 and PC. This preview was conducted via a press release of the game on Steam.