Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Is Really, Really Good, but It’s So Short

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the smallest open-world game I’ve ever played. It’s not that the world itself is small — no, this is the same game world as Marvel’s Spider-Man, which is gigantic — it’s that the total playtime for a 100% completion run is maybe 15-20 hours. The main story clocks in at maybe five hours.

This wouldn’t be out of character for a story-heavy action game, I suppose. 20 hours is a pretty decent chunk of time for that type of game. But Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is an open-world game that launched the same week as the absolutely massive Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which perhaps invites comparison between the two games. And Valhalla is easily ten times larger than Miles Morales (not landwise, necessarily, but content-wise).

Still, what’s here is really, really good. In fact, I think Miles Morales shows off the best writing in Insomniac’s Spider-Verse so far.

I mentioned this a while back, but I thought The Heist, the first story DLC pack for 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, was maybe the best part of that game. The Heist’s story elements feel tightly woven together in a way that’s really satisfying. The side activities feel like part of the story rather than distractions. The villain (antihero is probably more accurate here) has a storyline that intertwines with Peter’s. All of The Heist feels coherent in a way that the base game and subsequent DLC packs never did.

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales feels like this. Two of the game’s major villains are connected to Miles on a very personal level. Their stories are part of Miles’s story in important ways.

All of this feels so neatly packaged that it’s difficult to keep complaining about the game’s length. In some ways, the game’s smaller scope encourages a tighter narrative, and overall that ends up making the story of Miles Morales engrossing from beginning to end. The emotional highs come one after the other rather than spaced out over several dozens of hours, and the game’s climax hits harder as a result.

Plus, the Tinkerer is a really great antagonist — maybe even my favorite villain in the series so far.

Aside from the story, I really enjoy the game’s pacing. The first 2/3 of the game sort of feel like just more Spider-Man (which isn’t a bad thing), but the final 1/3 of the game starts introducing these massive, really well-designed stealth/action set pieces. From that point on, the game feels like it’s constantly trying to outdo itself with each new location. In this way, Miles Morales reminds me just a little bit of Uncharted 3.

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

One of the aforementioned set-piece locations is Fisk Tower, which is one of the first locations in the original game. I really like revisiting old locations in video games, and while this is nowhere near as cool as revisiting the Ishimura in Dead Space 2, the updated version of Fisk Tower is still really, really cool.

To top if off, Miles Morales features what are hands-down the two best boss fights in the series (the last two boss fights in the game).

Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is not a long, beefy experience, but it’s packed with charm. The gameplay is as great as ever, the storytelling is fantastic, and the series is showing an initiative to re-evaluate how its boss fights work, something that was much needed after the first game (I hate to say it, but the 2018 game’s boss fights were nowhere near as impressive as they could have been).

All in all, Miles Morales feels more like a side story than a full Spider-Man game, but it’s a side story that’s worth a playthrough. The $50-ish price tag might be a little steep, but if you’re concerned about quality over quantity, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales delivers.

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