Howdy hidey ho! I’m no MCU buff, nor do I know the comics extensively. So when Midnight Suns popped up, I was hesitant. What pushed me over the edge to try it? The fact that it’s made by XCOM devs Firaxis, and namely that I come from XCOM2 in that regard. But this is clearly NOT XCOM, and your question might be the same as mine: what the hell is this game?
Strategize and be rewarded, blindly make moves and get punished.
At its core, it’s exactly what these devs are known best for: a turn-based strategy game. However, it tosses things up with a card system, but that doesn’t change the surprisingly refined and methodical combat. Be prepared: much like XCOM, the majority of your time in combat is making decisions to maximize every play you make. And despite a little more leniency than they’re known for, the reality is that it’s almost a perfect balance between easy-to-pick-up and hard-to-master. Be prepared to understand distinctly between poor decisions and good ones as the game mostly tosses RNG in favor of just making your life difficult if you refuse to think. Strategize and be rewarded, blindly make moves and get punished. Simple, right? But what’s not so simple and a sizable chunk of your time is actually building your heroes and their decks. I said “mostly” tosses RNG, and here’s where you have to decide to the best of your ability what cards to place on your heroes. Though, I personally found Magik to be the most OP once built up. Regardless, as your hand expands, so does your growth in strategy and it all comes together rather nicely. Then… well, there’s what I might call the “rest” of the game. The Abbey is mostly a place where you upgrade and build relationships with your heroes. And while I do recommend doing these things because they provide benefits, they also contain the biggest issue: no sense of urgency. Of course, this is also where all the content is, so without further ado…
…a lot of these things feel so ancillary that you may feel like skipping them.
Because of the enjoyable combat, I took my time building up my heroes and saw the credits roll 50 hours later. I’d estimate you’ll get between 40-50 depending on how much you do said team building, and that’s because once the game lets you loose, it’s all optional. Therein lies an interesting dilemma, then: the game has LOTS to do and you will not want for content; but a lot of these things feel so ancillary that you may feel like skipping them. However, it is worth getting to know some characters (namely Magik… maybe I’m starting to catch some feelings or something) and exploring the Abbey does help build out a ton of world lore. This also leads to proper challenge missions that are rightfully clever and worth doing for the ultimate outfit and moves. And THEN there’s also the fact that the game has a new game plus… And THEN there’s the fact that the story is clearly not finished and story expansion DLC is likely coming. AND… be sure to pet Charlie.
What’s REALLY an issue here is the dialogue…
This one’s an interesting one, but not because of the graphics. The graphics maxed out are clearly one of those “last gen dialed up to 11” type of deals, but with quite a few caveats. For one, the ray tracing is not so great, and clearly implemented at a very low level… though it does help with the shiny bits on armor. Secondarily, the game clearly has last gen underpinnings that are most noticeable in the Abbey, an area that seems clearly developed much earlier in the cycle. This pervades to other noticeable things, too, like the running animation looking and feeling oddly janky right down to clearly very low-budget facial animation scripting. That doesn’t mean the game looks bad, mind you: I still said it was turned up to 11 and you’ll find cinematics and general combat to look perfectly good… well, except the also jarring physics that misalign. What’s REALLY the issue here is the dialogue: it’s just really bad. Like, modern day wannabe-comic-book-funny-but-actually-bad… as in wannabe Robert Downey Jr. bad. The low budget voice acting and poorly written dialogue can grate on anyone’s nerves. Fortunately, that doesn’t take away from the main story itself which is simple to follow and also sticks to the comic book lore. I won’t spoil it, but it definitely has its moments of Midnight-Suns-versus-Avengers and young-versus-old.
My faith in Firaxis was rewarded…
My faith in Firaxis was rewarded: the combat system is excellently done and building up heroes is still enjoyable despite the card system… even if they’ve let up on the punishment and removed any sense of overall urgency. Of course, it wouldn’t be them if the game didn’t last awhile, and even if you purposely skip the side content if it isn’t to your tastes, you’ll only save 10-15 hours from my playtime. But from there, you get some hefty bumps in the road and not because it’s a mostly last gen built game, but that it’s dialogue writing and voice acting are so terrible. Fortunately, it’s story is overall not dependent on this and I look forward to where it actually goes because there is a lot of lore potential, here.