Anyone can wear the mask. In 2018, Into the Spider-Verse and Marvel’s Spider-Man achieved something I’d been craving for years: they brought Miles Morales into the cultural zeitgeist. This web-slinging biracial teenager has been a favorite of mine since his introduction in 2011, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales gives him a chance to shine in a whole new light.
Miles Morales doesn’t take any risks, mainly sticking to the successful formula of its predecessor with web-slinging action, captivating supervillains, and small moments that propel each character forward in their development. However, that’s not a bad thing. Just like 2018’s Spider-Man, Miles Morales nails the feeling of zipping through New York City while also exploring a new set of characters and insecurities as Miles adapts to being a full-time superhero.
Developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, Miles Morales follows Miles as he tackles the Underground, a gang wreaking havoc on the streets of New York, while Peter Parker is on vacation with Mary Jane in Europe.
Much like the original Spider-Man on PlayStation 4, the game uses an open world system in New York City. Markers on the map lead you to side quests, collectibles, and main mission objectives. Miles Morales does add new features, though, including training locations led by a holographic Peter Parker and the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man app, which lets NYC citizens post requests and report crimes.
While I was a little disappointed to see that the core gameplay hasn’t changed much in the sequel, Miles Morales does a fantastic job of cutting down the fat from Spider-Man. The original game had a lot of side quests that felt repetitive, asking you to do crime missions five times in each district, finding a million of Peter’s backpacks scattered throughout the city, and doing the different versions of the same puzzle over and over in the laboratory.
In Miles Morales, the game stuck to this core formula of beating up criminals and finding nostalgic items across Manhattan and Harlem, but it felt like less of a chore. The side quests felt more varied, and while there were collectibles to discover, they felt more equally spread around and there were far fewer in general. This helped make discovering new objects fun and exciting instead of just another task on a checklist of 50 things, which is how I felt sometimes during the 2018 Spider-Man game.
However, the lack of repetition is likely a result of the length of the game. The story only takes around 10 hours to finish, which was a bummer because I loved diving deep into Miles and his personality and watching him come into his own as a superhero.
The game doesn’t feel super replayable, either. If you’re a trophy hunter, you’ll need to dive into New Game+ to finish the trophy list. But other than that, I didn’t feel any pull to play through a second time—I’d already seen all the story and done all the side quests.
The story truly is the high point of the game. While I loved Spider-Man in 2018, it was very much a comic book video game. There were character moments between Peter and MJ or Peter and Aunt May, but most of it was “Uh oh, let’s go beat up some baddies.” Miles Morales, on the other hand, focuses more on the newest Spider-Man and his relationships with his friends and family as he struggles to adjust to his powers. The feeling of community is much more present in this game—Miles helps everyone, from subway workers to bodega owners to hospital staff.
Of course, I’m sure Peter Parker would do this stuff too, but since Pete is fully established and comfortable with himself in the first game, there’s a lot more baggage and history with supervillains. Meanwhile, Miles is still trying to win over the hearts of New Yorkers, and the game emphasizes little actions like saving peoples’ cats, even though the main story is technically about an overarching corporate plot and domestic terrorism.
Additionally, the dialogue in Miles Morales really showcases his character. He’s goofy and a little bit of an obtuse teenager, but he’s also an absolute genius, able to hack into computer systems and create his own tech on the fly without Peter’s supervision. Getting a glimpse into his family life and relationship with his best friend, Ganke, was an absolute joy. He has serious moments with his mom as the two of them recover from the tragedy that struck their family in the first game, but also has funny moments with Ganke as a teenage superhero, competing over video game high scores and how to build new suits.
Graphically, Miles Morales doesn’t stand out too much. It’s not bad, of course, but just like the gameplay, it’s about the same as the first game. It looks a little shinier and runs a little smoother since it’s been a few years and has all the next-gen upgrades. But, generally, it’s the same old New York City. It’s fun, it looks great, but it’s nothing new or super impressive.
Overall, Miles Morales doesn’t reinvent the superhero genre or change any of the core gameplay that Spider-Man fans fell in love with during the original game. Instead, the charm is found with Miles Morales himself and his journey to establish a presence in New York while becoming confident in his abilities without Peter Parker by his side. It’s a short story, but one worth experiencing, whether you’ve played the original game or not. Miles Morales makes you feel like a fledgling superhero and a teenager, learning the ropes of life, love, and web-slinging.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales is available now on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Miles Morales doesn’t reinvent the superhero genre or change any of the core gameplay that Spider-Man fans fell in love with during the original game. Instead, the charm is found with Miles Morales himself and his journey to establish a presence in New York while becoming confident in his abilities without Peter Parker by his side… Miles Morales makes you feel like a fledgling superhero and a teenager, learning the ropes of life, love, and web-slinging.