Review: ‘Marvel’s Midnight Suns’ Venom DLC is a treat for longtime symbiote fans
Marvel’s Midnight Suns hasn’t been the hit Firaxis Games had hoped for. Sales reports indicate the game underperformed, lead designer Jake Solomon has now left the company, and it’s looking like the current DLC campaign will be the game’s last. This is a tragedy, as Midnight Suns is an excellent superhero game brimming over with love for Marvel comics and plays like a dream. All those qualities are very much on show in Redemption, the new Venom-focused DLC.
This comes as the second of four releases that began with Deadpool in January and will be followed by Morbius and Storm (likely in March and April). There’s an overarching vampire vampyre invasion story connecting each of these episodes, though each one functions as its own three-mission standalone story.
Redemption picks up where we left the demonically possessed Venom in the game’s main campaign, though I’ll avoid spoilers on exactly how his story goes down. Let’s just say that soon after you start this DLC, he’s back to his normal self (well, normal by Venom standards anyway). For comic fans, this version of the character will be a treat, taking little inspiration from the Tom Hardy movies and presenting a traditional Eddie Brock who’s had time to come to terms with sharing his body with strange alien goo.
There’s also a whole bunch of subtle lore woven in, particularly in his interactions with Peter Parker. One of the most touching things about the core campaign was Spider-Man’s compassion for Venom, even after all the pair had been through. This continues here, and there’s a very nice moment where Spidey quietly asks you to check up on Venom after a particularly grueling mission. Venom also forms a nice relationship with a curious Hunter, who’s nonplussed about his monstrous appearance and quizzes him about the benefits of living with a symbiote (it turns out Venom doesn’t have bad breath because his acidic saliva cleans his teeth automatically!)
Venom is also a great addition to any combat team, appropriately feeling like a cross between the always-agile Spider-Man (he has similar ‘spidey-sense’ and webbing cards) and heavy hitters like Hulk and Iron Man. His core gimmick is his ‘Ravenous’ meter: Venom begins each battle with it filled and gets a damage buff, with each attack he makes consuming some of it, meaning the more you attack the less damage he’ll do. His support cards refill the meter, so it’s not so hard to keep him topped off throughout a bout.
This is all fairly easy to grasp, especially in comparison to Deadpool’s finicky ‘En Fuego’ mechanic. His durability, damage output, and attacks that regenerate his health (after he eats the enemies) arguably make him a little overpowered in comparison to other heroes, but it all makes sense given the character.
Without getting too far into spoiler country, the DLC also ends with one of the best boss fights in Midnight Suns, pitting you against an all-time great comic-book villain. This atmospheric fight puts your strategizing abilities to the test with some fun twists, and it feels inevitable that this character will return for a further beatdown when Morbius arrives in the game.
Perhaps the only strange wrinkle at the moment is that despite recruiting Venom to your team, you’ll still encounter ‘Fallen Venom’ as a random opponent in missions. This feels like a big oversight on Firaxis’ part and we expect to see it patched out soon, though it’s weirdly fun to give Venom some actual redemption by making him pummel his Lilith-addled past self into the dirt.
As with the Deadpool DLC, there’s the nagging feel that one character and three missions are a little stingy for a $14.99 DLC — we had so much fun with Venom’s missions we’d have loved to see even one more of them. The season pass for all four characters comes in at $49.99, which sweetens the deal a little in the long term, though in total it doesn’t feel like it’s going to add up to the value of a full-priced game. Despite how much we enjoyed Venom, perhaps it’s smart to wait for the inevitable sale on the full season pass once Morbius and Storm have arrived.
But, as it stands, Venom has breathed some new life into Midnight Suns. Perhaps the recent free weekend will have shown skeptical gamers that this turn-based strategic card game is very much worth playing.
Venom has finally joined Midnight Suns, and this take on the brain-munching symbiote is a comic book fan's dream. He's a great addition to any combat team, but one new character and three missions don't seem like enough given the asking price.