Although Marvel’s Midnight Suns card formula caused some skeptical surprise when it was revealed, the skeptics turned out to be delightfully wrong after the launch of Firaxis’ superhero strategy game. By the time you hit the credits in Midnight Suns, Hydra’s next Christmas party will be decidedly quieter: for a team of non-lethal superheroes, you’ll send a fair share of minions falling into explosive barrels or falling into fiery pits of damnation. . It’s a vibrant, morally ambiguous entertainment — and that’s largely why we awarded it four stars in our review.
However, when you weren’t filling intensive care units or demons, Midnight Suns had you hanging out with other heroes at the Abbey: a center where you hang out with your fellow crime fighters, manage things like research, and train between missions. When I got to Midnight Suns during the Christmas holidays, it sounded wonderful — I adore Garag Mach Monastery in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which works similarly to The Abbey, and I like the charm of Persona’s social downtime. On paper, I should have fallen head over heels in love with The Abbey of Midnight Suns, but, on the contrary, I found myself rushing through the Hunter’s free time, trying to get back into the turn-based gameplay as quickly as possible.
For a while it was difficult to explain why visiting the Abbey annoyed me so much. I liked the characters living there, and I liked watching the group from a human perspective—for example, the sullen vampire Blade swaps bloodlust for Captain Marvel’s thirst, or Spider-Man or Ghost Rider creates a secret craft club away from the judgmental eyes of Iron Man. There are so many wonderful stories being played out in The Abbey, but no matter how hard I tried, none of them was enough to avoid a cursory reading of the dialogues and running from mission to mission.
so what was the problem? At first I wondered if it was because I wasn’t a big fan of Marvel, or because the Midnight Suns turn-based shenanigans were just too fun to give up on. But those answers were wrong—Fire Emblem and Persona juggle these elements without a hitch, and there’s an embarrassingly long list of fictional characters I’ve lost my heart to.
In the end, it became clear that the Midnight Sun releases were not inherently tied to its social elements, which are brilliant. The real problem is that many of the mundane development systems, such as research or the creation of items that Firaxis usually refers to as simple menu screens in XCOM, required a physical presence to be used in Midnight Suns.
Do you want to explore new technologies or discover loot from the latest mission? This is a journey to the forge. Do you need to train your heroes or send someone to a task behind the scenes? Take up running. When you travel around the abbey to mark them between each individual mission, it seems routine, and since all the social elements of Midnight Suns are tied to the same place, it can be difficult to separate them. When you accumulate all the other Abbey riddles that require a run to solve, it’s all too much.
The disintegrated “Abbey” could become as beautiful as the rest of the “Midnight Suns”. Perhaps the daily tasks—opening boxes, delegating behind—the-scenes work-could be shortened, or we could tell Dr. Strange to handle it with a quick SuperLink message. After all, there’s a reason we don’t invite our friends over for a night out to drink beer and vacuum: socializing and housework are incompatible, and that’s what Midnight Suns does.
Midnight Suns from Marvel is available on PlayStation, Xbox and PC (and, it should be clarified, very good).