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Marvel’s Midnight Suns Is a 2005 Masterpiece Stuck In 2022

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Fun factor aside, the best thing about Midnight Suns’ combat is how different it is. Yes, we’ve seen similar card-based systems before (Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, Metal Gear Acid, etc.), but such games are quite rare in the grand scope of gaming history. Again, the quickest path to Midnight Suns‘ success would have been to make it “XCOM with superheroes.” Instead, Firaxis made the bold decision to ignore the most obvious path and use a unique opportunity as the chance to try something different that felt right for the hand they were dealt.

That’s where Midnight Suns’ best “2005” qualities come into play. The game is representative of a time when major studios like Square Enix, Rockstar Games, and Ubisoft regularly produced a series of smaller titles that gleefully abandoned franchise formulas in pursuit of something different. Mind you, those experiments didn’t always work. It would be foolish to pretend they did. Yet, there’s a reason why so many of those games end up on our “games ahead of their time” articles. The ways those games thought outside of the box (if only just a little bit) were either not appreciated in their time or were simply not perfected the first time around in the ways that more established design formulas were.

Midnight Suns often feels like the modern equivalent of those games. The joy its developers experienced crafting nearly every mechanic, scenario, and setpiece is so palpable that even this game’s mechanical creeks and groans start to sound like a symphony. It’s familiar enough to draw you in yet different enough to constantly surprise you and keep you engaged in what will happen next. 

Yet, like so many of those legacy experimental titles from acclaimed developers, some of Midnight Suns’ biggest swings result in hits while others leave the game flat on its face. 

Midnight Suns Relationship System Shows the Difference Between Great Ideas and Great Execution

When you’re not participating in card-based battles, you’ll spend most of your Midnight Suns adventures getting to know the game’s roster of Marvel characters a little better. Yes, Midnight Suns allows you to form a relationship with some of the most powerful figures in the Marvel universe. No, it doesn’t allow you to romance them. Sorry.

The heart of that relationship system is the Abbey: a hub-like area where our heroes gather between missions. There, you can choose to hang out with different characters, visit their favorite spots, train together, and even give them gifts. By choosing the right dialog options, exploring every action, and giving the right gifts, you can raise your friendship level with that character. Raise your friendship level high enough, and you’ll unlock special moves, unique story sequences, and various cosmetic items. 

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