Developed By: Insomniac Games
Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Reviewed On: PS4
For me, Insomniac Games has always been delivering me tasteful story-driven games including the beloved action platformer Ratchet and Clank series. When I heard of the new spin-off to Marvel’s Spider-Man, I expect no less in terms of fluid swinging exploration, action combo mashing, and Miles signature move of electrified punches.
Before swinging into this, I do ask myself how much do I know about Miles Morales background and story in terms of comics reading. The answer is none, therefore I took the liberty to watch Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse animated movie before diving into this game. Overall it took me about 15 hours (including watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) to finish the game.
Note that this is not a full sequel game but a short spin-off title that takes roughly about 12-15 hours of gameplay to complete, including the completion of side quests and other activities.
All gameplay videos below in the review are recorded in the first 10 minutes of the game with a segment called “New Thwip” which does not include story spoilers in it.
Storyline: I Am The Other Spiderman
This is what was heard throughout the game where most NPC’s and the main character himself identify as. So much so that the game kinda pins me into an expectation that I have to get good saving the day before I even started. The cinematics in this game is delivered well with good facial animation, top-notch voice works, and cinematic delivery however the matter of pacing in this game’s storyline is another issue altogether.
In my opinion, the game’s story paced really fast from firstly walking the streets to directly be thrown into a boss fight with a little context of just being a superhero. The game’s fast-paced storyline missed the opportunity of making me know and grow into Miles’s shoes by neither letting me train alongside Peter Parker nor knowing Miles’s best friend Ganke beforehand. In preference, I feel that I needed a little more time beforehand to understand and feel more attach to Miles background, beliefs, friends, and family.
— Insomniac Games (@insomniacgames) October 18, 2020
Music and Voice
I like hip hop
At the start of the game, I felt the sick beats on the main menu screen and got really excited due to the fact that Miles Morales character has his own flavour of upbeat theme music. But even so, this fails to translate in-game while Miles is swinging about because the music tends to turn off entirely by constant phone calls, radio announcements, and even being drowned out by the soft city ambience. Unlike its predecessor, the music tends not to stay and shy’s away in-game to the point that it’s hard to make out if it’s due to a lack of song variety or lack of beats in the game, turning it into a more generic tone rather than upbeat the game has in the main menu.
A little less charismatic than Peter Parker
Besides cinematic which is good, on the nitpicking side, Miles voice works feel like a monotone typical yes-man superhero instead of the sarcastic tone dialogue lines delivered by Peter Parker himself. To the point that I will constantly find all training challenges in the game just so to hear Pete’s voiced dialogue.
Some characters in the cinematic have no voice works
Some characters in the game perform lip-sync with subtitles on display without an actual voice in it perhaps the voice file is missing or not uploaded into the game which is a major bummer at the point of this review.
The music changes very mildly between Stealth mode and being detected
As mention above, the in-game music turns into a bland generic tune and only mildly changes tunes when an enemy spots you in stealth mode. Because of that, I ended up just waiting for an enemy to attack me first, informing me that I am well detected.
New Spiderman, new moves yet with a similar gameplay mechanic
Although the new spiderman garnered new moves such as the venom electrified punches and camouflage yet the core gameplay flow, execution and mechanics remain the very same as its predecessor. The game mainly focuses primarily on 3rd person action on dodging incoming attacks entirely with the O button, punch to create combos streaks, and perform special moves execution like how Peter Parker did. Consequently, the core gameplay mechanics don’t feel any different from its predecessor as if you are playing the same spiderman just in a different suit. The only break away from its predecessor is the animation mocap of movements and flow performed by Miles who is portrayed to be both nimble and acrobatic throughout the game campaign.
Other than that, the combat alone is built on the open-world combat concept and will turn erratic if you were to fight in the following scenarios:
- NPC is stepping on a table or a crate will make you miss all combo attacks as if Spiderman couldn’t snap to auto-aim targets.
- Fighting in an enclosed space will definitely make the camera go spinning erratically.
- Enemy AI will at a times ended up jumping off to different places searching for you while you were actually in front of them.
Sample combat video below:
As Miles is off web-swinging, his style is seen to be more free flow and acrobatic as he playfully spins his body around 360° as he skillfully transitions from one web to the other. This makes the whole swinging routine into a euphoric experience to me which is a big plus.
Check out below for a gameplay sample video:
Although there two minor things that happen when Miles does swinging tricks:
- As I swing around, I tend to feel like I am playing an SSX snowboarding video game as I can hold a square button + directional button midair just to make Miles perform acrobatic tricks that can be entertaining yet at the same time distracting.
- As you jump via pressing X after performing tricks or jumping off each swing, it feels like not picking up as much speed as Peter Parkers style. So I ended up using L2+R2 web zipping more to pick up the speed.
Stealth mechanic that makes Spider-Man Noir cry
The games mechanic in stealth works similarly like the previous game where you zip through and crawl on top of walls, lamp posts, as well as wall perches to perform stealthy takedowns from the top. However, like the game’s combat; the enemy AI is erratic alongside their infinite visual cone view, hence making the whole stealth element in the game suffocatingly difficult and one-sided gameplay. One-sided means that Miles will be relying more on his newfound powers called Camouflage just to return back to stealth mode after being discovered as moving away to a different location is still tracked by enemy NPCs from afar.
Two alternative things that nitpickingly irritates the hell out of me during stealth gameplay
- Spiderman can’t do auto wall-climb as you jump or walk into certain walls
- Alternatively, new mechanic perching over the ledges of the floor via L3 should be able to auto wall climb on the walls under my feet to make stealth mechanic less noisy.
- Again like combat, the camera will turn erratic when in an enclosed space.
Boss fights are actually fun but lesser variety than expected
As spiderman, it is adamant that a lot of foes will come to you in all shapes and sizes however in this case as a spinoff; the number of foes can be counted in one hand but their fight scene, cinematic transitions, voice lines, and mechanics is pretty satisfactory. It is actually fun, I just wished there were more for me to test my skills on.
Sidequest, activities, and puzzles
This is actually a refreshing aspect of the game because there are quite a number of sidequest and puzzle elements in the game that is fresh yet at the same time not repetitive. The only minor issue I had was mostly about the game’s tooltip explanation of the puzzle solution was rather vague for me to understand it’s mechanics but in general bravo in this department. Finishing each activity will earn experience and tokens to buy out new suits, upgrade gadgets, and learn new skills be it combat, stealth, and Miles Venom Strikes.
As Ganke always says, let’s list out the pros and cons, shall we?
What I Liked
- There’s a short recap of the story from Miles’ point of view before starting up the game.
- New refreshing puzzle elements.
- Less repeated sidequests and activities.
- Flavorful in-game animation performed by Miles in both euphoric web-swinging and combat.
- Fun boss fights.
- Upbeat music in the Main menu and some gameplay in general.
- Top-notch cinematics with good facial animation and on-point voice works.
- Solid fighting and gameplay mechanic that is similar to the aspect of its predecessor.
What can be better:
- Stealth gameplay can be better with certain walls that cannot be auto-climbed, erratic Ai’s behavior, infinite visual cone.
- The story felt a bit too fast-paced to me.
- Needs improved voice works and punchier dialogue for Miles in-game that always delivers in a monotone manner instead of his playful electric personality.
- Some characters have missing voice lines in the game.
- Running on the ground should be able to sprint as there are moments in the game that needs to be groundwork.
- Minor bugs of clipped legs on the rooftops and clipping into NPCs as they animatedly give a high five, as well as certain objects, could not be examined when I am too close; turning off the triangle button in the process.
- A minor bug includes the game asking to press the O button to read notes but actually, it’s the X button.
- Music is too mild to differentiate between stealth mode and getting detected.
- The main quests at times can be triggered as I pass by surrounding buildings instead of a small trigger point. This in return disrupted me while I was doing other side activities nearby.
- In my opinion, Miles combat control mechanic has to feel a little more different than Peter Parker’s control mechanic to give it a more different spiderman for players.
- Spider senses should have a sound cue too as Miles is more attune with sounds.
- The option to skip cinematics.
In my time with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, I have to say three simple words to summarise my overall experience with the game which is just Short and sweet.
As a spin-off title, the gameplay feels solid with euphoric web-swinging, good combat, sidequests as well some refreshing puzzle elements alongside juicy boss fights, and good cinematic delivery. Of course on the other end, there are minor bugs, missing voice works, lack of interesting in-game music, and in-game voice dialogues. However, as sweet as it sounds, the short experience I had could very well mean that the price of this game of $49.99/ 209 MYR is not fully justified in my opinion unless you are a huge fan of the series although there is a case of a free upgrade to PS5 to sweeten the pot. If you are new to the series, I feel strongly that it is preferred for you to play the previous Marvel’s Spider-Man first before diving into this spin-off title as the game hugely refers back to the storyline of the previous game.