Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales was developed by Insomniac games, published by Sony Interactive Entertainment back in 2021 for the PS4 and 5, and recently on Windows. It is a sequel/spin-off to Marvel’s Spider-Man from 2018.
Peter Parker has been training Miles for about a year now in the Ways of the Spider. Peter suddenly has a to go away cuz the story says so, and leaves Miles in charge of NYC. We get an encounter with Rhino as the training level. After that, a group calling themselves The Underground shows up all over town and they are making moves against Roxxon energy. Miles has the classic Spider-man dilemma of having to balance his personal life with his super heroing.
Visuals are buttery smooth, I didn’t have any complaints (except maybe the enemy AI behaving kind of wonky sometimes, but it was usually comical).
Sound is great, you can hear the squeak of shoes as characters walk down a hallway or side walk. Weapons have the right amount of punch. Characters (including Miles!) definitely had a limited number of shoutouts, they would repeat themselves A LOT and that got pretty grating when I was sneaking around tryna do all my stealth takedowns. Web slinging sounds slinky. The soundtrack was pretty interesting, I’m confident Spencer would enjoy it.
This game tried something new by including podcasts that Miles would listen to as he was swinging around. There were a bunch from a show called the Danikast, and a bunch of ravings from JJJ. This is an interesting concept to try to include, but I was moving so quickly through town, I’d start a new encounter or finish with an encounter and need the next line of the story, so almost every podcast got cut short with the story. The same can be said about a bunch of audio collectibles and phone calls Miles makes.
Fighting is fun, with simple controls that can stack up to decent sized combos to always be in control of any fight. Miles is special because he has a cool electricity power that gives him cool powers, such as a strong electrical punch, or a move where he can launch a bunch of baddies into the air incapacitating them. He also has an invisibility cloak, which is super helpful for thinning a crowd before starting a fight. Web swinging through NYC is easy and never gets old.
Miles’ friend Ganke is super techy and creates an app that allows people to ask Spiderman for help. This basically collects most side quests, and I liked this idea until I realized I had no interest in doing the side quests. The couple I did were very simple: fetch quest, stop a bad guy, etc.
This game is very similar to the first entry, and that’s ok, but I have a couple complaints. Upgrades felt more “expensive” (that is, in-game tokens earned from doing activities) and kind of difficult to get everything (granted I was playing the hardest difficulty). However, at the end of the game it becomes obvious that the creators desperately want you to play the game on NG+. You can’t unlock the final skill point in each of the three skill trees, the last upgrade for every tool at your disposal, the final upgrades to your suit, and a final suit without playing/beating NG+. Most uncool.
The collectibles were kind of lackluster. Most activities end with a box containing a certain upgrade material (there were 35 boxes in total). However, there were two different missions that were really cool. One had Miles’ uncle Aaron leading Miles around town finding audio samples Miles’ dad and uncle collected a long time ago and mixing it together to make a song. Another one had Miles look for postcards his mom hid and it tells a lot of memories she has of said dad. Fantastic emotional beat. Besides these two things, all the other things to find and do felt pretty bland and uninspired.
This game just oozes the vibe of being kind of rushed. It doesn’t feel like it has the same level of care the first game had. The story is shorter, and there’s less to do (even less interesting things to do), and I think that’s why most people agreed this felt like a really large DLC and certainly doesn’t feel like a full length game.
BUT WAIT, this reminds me of another game I played for a bit this month…
Into the Pit is advertised on Steam as: “A fast-paced retro-FPS roguelite! As a member of a family of lore-hunting mystics you are summoned to a cursed village, drawn by rumors of a demonic portal. Dark magics have overwhelmed the village, It's up to you to rescue the survivors, grow your powers, and journey forth INTO THE PIT.”
So you are basically in a space with a bunch of doors, each with a little icon over a bell. These bells all make the exact same sound and each door has someone behind it that offer things but you have to wait to be included until you’ve found enough settlers to make these people interested in helping you.
You go down a set of stairs to an altar, insert up to four modifying gems into sockets and a destination gem into that socket. The modifying gems are buffs/debuffs you apply to your run and other destination gems are bought from one of the guys back in town.
When you start your run, you’re placed in a room with eight doors, divided into four sections (thus two doors per section). Each door offers a hint over it of what you will find inside. There are six(?) different currencies you can collect for different reasons. Sometimes you will find a room to offer health in exchange for something cool or another that has a healing pit, and some even has settlers waiting to be rescued.
Before you start choosing rooms you select your left and right hand weapons and a starting buff, all randomized. I always tried to make my left kind of snipey, right shotgunny and always went for health buffs because enemies hit pretty hard to begin with. You then start completing rooms. Each room you complete rewards you with powerups or buffs (again, randomized), including elemental effects to your weapons, increased move speed, the works. Four or Five levels of four rooms to complete, and then you get a boss fight. Each room basically took one minute to finish, and at the end you get a recap kinda like original doom with time elapsed, enemies killed/missed, collectibles grabbed, etc.
By my third run the game had become simple to understand and a lot of fun to play. I just wish so badly that it had been given more time to bake. A term I heard from some of my favorite reviewers was bouncing around my head the whole time I was playing, because the phrase finally made sense. This game looks like the screen was smeared with shit. My guess is that the creators built it in a normal engine (turns out it was Unity) and then did a couple quick cheap tricks to pixelate it to make it feel like a “retro fps”, but it would have been better looking like a typical Unreal Engine basement built game. The sound design was less than bare bones, as evidenced by the single bell sound for every merchant and no voice acting. I’m pretty sure anytime I got hit by an attack it was the same “I’ve been hit” sound effect (insert Goldeneye’s hurt sound effect). Jumping felt really floaty and wonky. Enemy AI had some rough path-tracking (???) making them easy to kill, but also there were a couple of rooms that spawn you right next to an enemy. This would be acceptable, if there wasn’t an obvious FIVE SECONDS AFTER SPAWNING OF BEING UNABLE TO MOVE.
This is probably the first time I actually loved the rogue-lite aspect of a game. It didn’t feel like I was screwed by bad rolls. There’s a chance to reroll with one of the currencies and I never did because I always felt like I could work with what I had rolled, it helped me be creative and not run the same exact build every time. The shooting is fun. Building what kind of run (what buffs I want, etc) at the altar is great. But the technical OOFIES made me lose interest pretty quickly. I think the game said there were 50 settlers to save. I found somewhere between five and ten and I was all set.
In closing, both games are fantastic concepts but felt underbaked and needed more love and care put into them.
I got Miles Morales on PS5 for $25 bucks (it’s usually selling for $50), and I played Into the Pit for free through Humble Bundle Monthly on Humble’s game library app.