Ladies and gentlemen, your game of the year winner. Midnight Suns is an excellent palette cleanser from the abysmal Marvel games the MCU has tainted over the years. Marvel's Midnight Suns was crafted with love, care, and a level of dedication and commitment that Firaxis brings to all of their games. It is a perfect blend of Dragon Age: Inquisition, XCOM 2, Fire Emblem, and Slay the Spire. It is so good that I literally just stopped typing and resumed playing it for a good two hours. Here is the breakdown, with very limited spoilers.
The gameplay answers the age old question of what do you get if you mix a deck builder, an RPG, and XCOM? The answer is glory. The gameplay is set up mostly like XCOM, where you and your enemies share the same board, and reinforcements show up as you take down more and more enemies. There are two kinds of enemies, those that take only hit hit to kill, and those with a traditional HP bar with a set amount of health. It's a pretty cool system that really makes you feel like a superhero as you TOSS enemies around like ragdolls. You attack enemies using a mix of environment, grabs/throws, and an enjoyable card system that proves you can't judge something until you see it. People were very freaked out about this being a card game, but the way they use it makes perfect sense, isn't that complex, but also is complex enough that you can create some pretty good/unique decks. The difficulty system is also a Godsend, as it doesn't let you progress through the difficulty levels until you've earned it (getting good ratings on missions), and when you do want to switch it clearly lays out what changes happen between each difficulty mode (something more games should be doing). The game hasn't been too challenging as of this write up, but it's enjoyable and has a lot of twists and turns that leave you wanting more. The routine of the game is perfect. You go on a mission, then you return back to bass, hangout with one of your teammates to build support (AKA Fire Emblem), go on a spooky mission around the base, sleep, turn it rewards, then pick another mission. That whole cycle might take a little too long, but each part of the cycle is rewarding and really creates a strong replay value, as each "day" brings new hangouts, convos, and rewards.
Praise Odin for not ONE Infinity Stone mention. So much Marvel media has been tainted by the MCU, and thankfully Midnight Suns doesn't care a BIT about the MCU. Obviously Marvel was adamant about the cast (Captain Marvel makes no sense for this game), but most of the cast don't feel forced down our throats from the MCU. The story is an original one, and it is absolutely riveting. You play the child of an ancient evil, and your goal is to destroy her for good. Jake Solomon clearly has mommy issues. The story is well written, sharp, and has a lot of emotional moments that can teach the player important lessons. Most of the characters fit seamlessly into the story (cough Captain Marvel cough) and the stakes feel actually high, unlike most Marvel games. Jake Solomon and crew crafted an incredibly resonant story that shows how deeply they care for the Marvel characters in their game. The plot of this game is better than 90% of the comics out there for Marvel currently.
The triumph of this game isn't the combat, it's what you get to do outside of it. Your home base is much like Skyhold in Dragon Age Inquisition. In between missions you can hangout with allies to boost friendship with them, upgrade various areas around the abbey, and purchase a LOT of customization items for your Hunter and for your allies. The "casual" wear for the heroes is great, seeing Blade curled up on the couch in a sweater reading a book is exactly what I needed from a Marvel game. The Abbey feels like a legitimate haven, much like Skyhold did in Dragon Age. The grounds of the Abbey are also huge, and have their own side stories and mysteries to explore. There is usually something unique to do between each mission, whether it's a new mission on the grounds or a new conversation, or my favorite thing....the clubs. That's right, you get to join a club with some of your favorite Marvel heroes. My personal favorite is Book Club with Blade, Captain America, and Captain Marvel. Most of the books are fictional, but some are real, and Blade tells you to read it ahead of time, then you get to discuss the book with the characters, it's a pretty cool concept and an awesome way to try to get kids to enjoy reading. The customization is detailed, with you getting to pick from a lot of different shades to apply to your character and the other heroes' costumes. The RPG elements are in full display in the Abbey, and this game shines for it.
Firaxis has lovingly crafted a strong game, with unique gameplay, high replayability, excellent RPG elements, and a commitment to strong story rather than commercial MCU gimmicks. This game is easily a GOTY contender, and an excellent addition to any gamer or Marvel fan's catalogue.