Marvel’s Midnight Suns
Available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Marvel’s Midnight Suns was unceremoniously released in December–too late for most 2022 award consideration, but so early it has been left out of the 2023 conversation. That’s a shame, because Firaxis’ latest is a fantastic strategy game that pays loving homage to a more magical and cosmic corner of the Marvel universe.
Though it clearly sports XCOM DNA at its heart, Midnight Suns is its own unique take on the strategy genre that finds clever ways to make you feel appropriately superpowered. Grunts can be taken down with ease, and much of the positioning emphasis is about flinging enemies into each other or other structures like you’re a grumpy Hulk. Meanwhile, these powerful abilities are carefully balanced by a card system, which lets you manage your “deck” while also keeping your suite of abilities slightly random at any given time. Individual heroes have specialized, flavorful powers, like Blade’s cards focusing heavily on Bleed abilities, or Captain Marvel’s ability to go Binary. By the time you reach the end, you’ve become intimately familiar with each of your heroes, their unique strengths, and how they can trigger and chain off each other. It feels incredible.
On top of that, Midnight Suns has a great story based on an underrated comic arc, great reimaginings of famous Marvel characters corrupted by the villainous Lillith, and most of all, tons of heart. The story stands well on its own, but it’s secondary to the amount of time and care given to team-building with your crew and watching the heroes butt heads, come together, and then butt heads again. It all feels very organic and real, which is a remarkable achievement for a game about jumpsuit-wearing demigods battling a demon mother. With loads of DLC that has extended the game into 2023, this was one of my favorite experiences of the year. — Steve Watts