Here’s why you should play Insomniac’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales in 2023

Here’s why you should play Insomniac’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales in 2023

After finishing God of War Ragnarok on my PS5 this December, my eyes were drawn to Insomniac Games’ Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales since it was on sale for $20.00. 

It is hard to believe, but the game is already two years old. The game launched with the Playstation 5 back in November 2020 along with the Demon Souls remake. Miles Morales was the most hyped launch title for the console. After it was revealed that the game would also be available for PS4, the excitement cooled a bit. 

The reception was mostly positive for those lucky enough to play the next generation of Miles Morales on their fancy new PS5. Reviews stated the game brought back the familiar gameplay from the 2018 game with minor changes to reflect Miles’ abilities. 

The biggest criticism was the game’s length. It clocked in at under 20 hours for one hundred percent compilations. A game’s length should not ultimately determine the quality of the product. However, when the game was released at $50, plus the hundreds of dollars dropped on the new consoles, it is understandable if one decided to wait. 

There was also a $70 Ultimate Edition with a remaster of the 2018 Spider-Man game and all its DLC. For those that never played the original game before purchasing a PS5 then that deal looked more like the killer app Sony wanted for the PS5. 

It certainly was not worth some of the extremes people went to get ahold of those elusive next-gen consoles. I would argue even in early 2023, consumers are better off waiting another year to invest in either Xbox Series X or Playstation 5 consoles. 

It's a fantastic Spider-Man game for 2023!

At the time I, like many, could not find a PS5. I decided to wait for a sale on Miles Morales until I secured a PS5. Luckily, I managed to snag a PS5 around the holidays last year but decided to pick up Insomniac’s other PS5 title Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. 

Finally, I purchased the game for $20 right after Christmas. I figured for 2023, now is the best time to finally play Miles Morales to get excited for this June’s Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse animated film along with Insomniac’s Spider-Man 2 scheduled to launch exclusively on the PS5. 

I heard through the grapevine that Miles Morales was technically impressive and a fun game. The main criticism was that the game’s total package could be viewed as an expansion for the original 2018 game. A personal favorite video game reviewer of mine, Somecallmejohnny, summarized the game best as “diet Spider-Man.” 

I don’t like diet pop, but after 100 percenting the game I believe from a pure gameplay experience, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is better than the original 2018 Spider-Man. I found it better but it is undoubtedly a shorter experience. That is not a bad thing for some. In certain cases, less is more.  

Yes, Spider-Man: Miles Morales is about half the length of the prior game. It is a leaner playthrough thanks to omitting some of what I thought were the weakest parts of the first Spider-Man game. Those mostly were moments when the rising action of the gameplay is halted for a mandatory section. Players were forced to solve puzzles or play as Peter’s powerless friends. 

A Solid Miles Morales Homecoming Narrative 

Spider-Man: Miles Morales takes place a few months after the first game’s events. There’s a recap included with this game. This is great if you haven’t played the series since the first game came out in 2018, like me, or if you elected to skip the previous one.  

Miles Morales has moved to Harlem and is being trained by Peter Parker. Miles is still dealing with the consequences of events from the first game while adjusting to his new life in Harlem. After dealing with the Rhino in the game’s opening minutes, Peter informs Miles that he is going overseas with Mary Jane for the holidays

The story emulates similar plot elements from the first game. Returning and new characters are mostly likable. As the story progressed toward the end, I found the motivation of the main antagonist to be a little weak. Without spoiling the plot, it turns into one of those situations where you understand their motives but just wish they would de-escalate the situation and leave it to Spider-Man. It’s a solid Spider-Man story with the classic cliches of awkwardly handling being a teenage superhero. 

Miles Morales swings across the city

Given the limited time the shorter game has to tell its narrative, I found it was fine for the most part. Those familiar with other Miles Morales stories like the animated Into the Spider-Verse film will see similar themes and characters. 

I had to remember that when this game was released one of the more comical controversies was the complaint that the characterization of Miles Morales was in one reviewer’s eyes an “exaggerated swagger of a black teen.” 

Playing hip-hop beats and showing your protagonist, a biracial kid from NYC playing basketball does not sound like an exaggeration. It sounds like any youth in 2020’s America. 

When Tom Holland’s Spider-Man made references to the New York Mets or Star Wars in the MCU movies I didn’t hear any commentary about the portrayal being an exaggerated white guy from Queens. 

There are moments in the game that reminds players that the developers were aware of the ongoing social issues that were, and still are, occurring in the world. This game would have been warranted to make a loud statement on those issues especially after releasing a few months after that summer’s protests. 

Spider-Man: Miles Morales doesn’t have any Spike Lee preaching moments. However,  it’s still proud of its representation with moments sprinkled across the game. Coming from a white kid from middle-class Cleveland it was encouraging and nice to see. 

Same Great Open-World Spidey Gameplay now with Venom 

Gameplay-wise Miles Morales is more than just a biracial Spider-Man. It would have been easy for Insomniac to make him a Peter Parker clone in terms of gameplay. Luckily, thanks to the lore from the comics, it was easy for Insomniac to make Miles Morales have enough distinction. They managed this without completely overhauling the gameplay that was revered from the previous game. 

Playing as Miles Morales’ Spider-Man the character feels weaker than Peter Parker. You start the game pretty limited with few options as far as combat goes. There is a three-tier skill tree and helpful tech to help you in combat. 

The skill tree and unlockables are noticeably smaller than in the previous game. Again, this could be more due to the game’s length rather than a lack of creativity or narrative reason.

The few unique abilities Miles will learn can spice up the gameplay and in my opinion, make him far more enjoyable to play than Peter. 

The one that gets the most attention is Miles’ venom ability. No, this is not the symbiote that turns Tom Hardy into a lethal protector, but rather a bio-electric attack.

Throughout the story, with Miles’ new bio-electric powers the game shamelessly uses them as an excuse to make Miles an all-in-one battery to solve simple puzzles.

In the game’s combat sections, his venom powers take center stage. The venom gauge can quickly build up and be used as a lock-on power punch to a shockwave attack. It even can be a screen nuke.

Some epic attacks!

It can also be used in web swinging. If you need a quick boost in momentum, you can activate a venom jump to keep you going. The web-swinging Insomniac perfected from the first game works so well that I didn’t feel the need to use it.

As you quickly level up Miles, your venom capabilities will increase. This progression makes the gauge fill up quicker, allowing you to wreak havoc on criminals. 

Near the end of the game, I was chaining takedowns easily. With the perks selected, I was throwing non-stop venom attacks at foes. Some might think it makes the game easier, but there are multiple difficulties to select. As mentioned, what Miles lacks in variety of tech and skills is made up for with his venom powers.  

The other major ability that Miles unlocks is his camouflage. Fans of the Into-Spiderverse film will remember this ability being featured in the film. I found that this ability broke the game more than the venom abilities. 

As you can imagine the camouflage ability makes Miles invisible when enemies appear near. It is encouraged to utilize in the game’s stealth sections. Additionally, players can quickly level it up to where they can use it long enough to clear entire stealth sections with it on. 

The stealth sections in Insomniac’s Spider-Man games were never that challenging. You rarely get an instant game over for alerting an enemy like some stealth games. Clearing a stealth section without getting caught usually makes you avoid a longer, potentially more challenging combat section. 

Once you master both the venom and camouflage abilities both gameplay scenarios will be a relative breeze. It is up to the player if they prefer to be stealthy or loud. 

I personally preferred to jump straight into the action if I wasn’t feeling patient enough to wait during a stealth section. I never felt punished for my decision since I knew how to use the venom moves. The mandatory stealth sections in the first Spider-Man game where players were forced to play as Mary Jane or Miles before he got his powers were much harder in my opinion. 

The omission of those types of gameplay sections in Miles Morales is enough for me to prefer this game over the 2018 game. I cannot tell you how many times I backed out of playing the original game again because I dreaded those gameplay sections. They were mood killers for me. There are a few of those moments in the game but they are nowhere near as long or tedious. 

The right time to enjoy Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Ultimately I enjoyed my time with Insomniac’s Miles Morales. It is a shorter and leaner experience than the 2018 game. However, from a pure gameplay stance, I found it to be much better. 

Some might want a fuller experience with a better story even if it comes with annoying gameplay elements. I can see why some would prefer Peter Parker’s game. 

Not to say that there are tedious moments of gameplay. If going for all the sidequests, one or two might bore or even annoy some players. 

When swinging along the city many of the open-world side quests that you were completing as Peter are what you’ll be doing as Miles. You’ll be scavenger hunting for collectibles, raiding evil bases, and completing training challenges. 

Spider-Man Miles Morales offers all the great gameplay of the first game but in lesser quantities. Less annoying gameplay interruptions but also less super villains to fight. Less tedious sidequest but also fewer costumes and skills to unlock. 

I could not have recommended players purchase this game at its original price of $50 dollars a few years ago. However, in 2023 this game can be bought at a much more reasonable price. The game frequently goes on sale in the PlayStation store. It is now included in the PlayStation Plus Extra Tier games. 

Both Spider-Man games have also found their way on P’s so those that prefer that platform or even have a Steamdeck can enjoy the advantages those platforms bring. 

I am glad I finally played through Miles Morales. It is silly to admit that I waited a while to finally try it because I was afraid that the game would rely too heavily on its Holiday setting. Christmas is my favorite holiday. But when it’s past or long before the holiday season I prefer not to see any reference to the most wonderful time of the year. 

Quirky grinches like me don’t have to worry. Miles Morales is not a holiday special so feel free to enjoy it any time of the year. 

It will be interesting to see how Insomniac handles the gameplay of two Spider-Men in its upcoming Spider-Man sequel. Not much is known other than both Peter and Miles will be cooperating seemingly against the villain Venom. 

In Insomniac’s Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, the game also had two playable protagonists. Insomniac wisely made the characters identical gameplay-wise so when the story switched perspectives players didn’t feel like one was more fun than the other. 

Since Peter and Miles have their own abilities, I would imagine switching between the two won’t be one-to-one. Eager fans will have to wait and see for gameplay to be revealed likely around the summertime during a State of Play

With the upcoming sequel to Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man 2 scheduled for release later this year, 2023 is the perfect time to play Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. By the time the new game comes out on PS5, some players might have a hard time going back to the game, especially if they have not touched the series since beating Spider-Man 1 back in 2018. 

Miles Morales and Peter in Spider-Man 2

I would not skip this short game. For the right price, it will be a nice tie-over before we get more Spider-Man-related content later this year. Some players like me might find that they enjoy the Miles Morales game over the Peter Parker game. 

For review purposes, I would rate the game 4 stars out of 5.

Are you excited about the upcoming Insomniac Spider-Man game? Were you waiting for Miles Morales to go on sale? Join the conversation in the comment section

Ready to start your journey?

It's dangerous to go alone! Join us!