I have a bad habit of falling for unpopular games. Even as a kid my favorite games were never the most popular ones. When all my friends were obsessed with Final Fantasy 8 and Chrono Cross, I was trying to get them to play Draken: The Ancients’ Gates. I never got into Battlefield or Call of Duty, but I played hundreds of hours of Warhawk and MAG on PS3. My favorite game of all time is Arkane’s Prey, which is a game a lot of people have come around on in more recent years, but still isn’t considered popular by any stretch. It’s not that I like bad games – all of those examples are fantastic (okay, maybe not MAG) – it’s just that the kind of games I appreciate the most don’t seem to be the ones that become big hits. Still, I feel a responsibility to help expose more people to the games I love the most, and so I have a new crusade. If you haven’t played Marvel’s Midnight Suns, I’m begging you to give it a chance.
Midnight Suns was a flop, according to Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier. In an interview with Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick, the CEO said that a less-than-perfect release window may have contributed to the games not-so-impressive sales, but that he still believes it could generate sales long-term, similar to Firaxis’ more famous XCOM series. Midnight Suns launched in December and was a critical success, but apparently a lot of you haven’t played it yet. Luckily, it’s a great time to try it out.
Take-Two recently launched a trial version of Midnight Suns on Xbox and PlayStation Plus. Xbox players and PS+ premium subscribers can try out three hours of the game, starting right from the beginning, and carry over their progress to the full game should they choose to purchase it. Three hours is plenty of time to get a feel for Midnight Sun’s unique turn-based combat, compelling life-sim activities, and fresh take on familiar Marvel heroes. I have never met a person who played Midnight Suns and didn’t like it, whether they were a big comic book or MCU fan, or even if they didn’t care about superheroes at all. It is exceptional at quickly endearing you to this large cast of characters and making you feel like part of the world and the unfolding story in a way no other Marvel game has. I can’t imagine why more people haven’t checked it out yet.
I had similar feelings about Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, which seems to be in the same situation as Midnight Suns. Both Mario and Marvel seem like IPs too big to fail, but both games are also tactical RPGs, so it’s hard not to draw some comparisons there. If the tactical RPG label is what drove you away from Midnight Suns, I encourage you to try the demo, because it’s unlike any other tactics game out there.
It’s fast-paced, cinematic, and action-oriented, and it abandons almost all tedious trappings the tactics genre is known for. If it’s the deck-building aspects that turned you off, you have even less to worry about. It shares so many mechanics with popular roguelike card games like Slay the Spire, but it's not a card game. The ability decks are filled with variety and add complexity to battles, but deckbuilding is intuitive, straightforward, and mostly linear. Your abilities get more powerful and you have some choices about which ones to include, and that’s the extent of its card game aspects. It’s not much different from choosing attacks in Pokemon that way.
As I explain all the things that Midnight Suns isn’t, the reasons it didn’t become an instant hit become clear. Midnight Suns is not a simple game and it’s difficult to imagine what it’s like to play it until you actually get your hands on it. That might make it a tough sell, but it’s also what makes it such a great game. It’s packed with fresh ideas and interesting evolutions of familiar gameplay systems. This is the kind of game that will be influential, even if it doesn’t achieve mainstream success.
I sincerely hope it does, because the future of Midnight Suns looks bright. We’ve just received our first of four DLC characters, Deadpool, which makes this an even better time to check it out. Deadpool’s story can be played at any time and will connect to the storylines for the other three DLC characters, Morbius, Storm, and Venom. I’m looking forward to the continuation of that story, but I’m even more excited for what Midnight Suns’ sets up for the sequel. For comic book fans, there’s a big player working behind the scenes that doesn’t reveal themself until the finale, and it would be such a shame if we never get to see that teaser get a payoff. We need more Midnight Suns, but first we need more people to play it.
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