Marvel’s Spider-Man has set the gaming community on fire. When this PlayStation 4 exclusive was released in 2018, it pretty much became an instant classic. Many heralded it as the first great video game based upon a comic character. There’s some truth to it too! Do you know why it is successful? Part of it is because it is a well-designed, good looking game with a well-realized hero and lots of sidequest content, as you can tell in our review. But, I also think it is because Insomniac Games realized it is not just Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, that makes the comic great. It is also the other characters who play important parts in his life along the way.
Let’s start with Mary Jane, since she is the first of the many major players in Marvel’s Spider-Man to get a substantial amount of time in the spotlight. Depending on the writer, she can be a serious heroine with depth or someone more fluffy. In Insomniac’s title, she is someone who wants to prove herself. She wants to make a difference in the same way Spider-Man does. This means she is working as a reporter, covering tough cases. It also means that, when players are allowed to step into her shoes as part of the game, you get to experience a sort of gameplay Peter Parker does not afford you. Being MJ lets you investigate areas and solve more complex puzzles, which opens up a new side to a superhero adventure that you would absolutely expect.
Black Cat is another character whose influence is felt over Marvel’s Spider-Man. She is a mystery to solve. She is a teaser to draw you to the first add-on. We really mainly hear her throughout the game, just like Harry Osborn’s presence shows up as a result of the Oscorp research stations Parker maintains. Listening to Black Cat, wondering what she is doing back in Manhattan, why she is possibly getting back into a life of crime, and finding all of her toys. Since Peter and MJ are broken up at the start of the game, it might also get people wondering if some romance could develop.
Now, we are going to start getting into some spoilers. There are two male characters who have a huge impact on Marvel’s Spider-Man. Otto Octavius is absolutely one of them. When the game begins, he is basically a hero to Peter. Parker is working in his lab, helping him develop prosthetics. Octavius apparently mentored him in school. Peter saw this as someone who wanted to change the world. Watching the path Octavius takes and the effect that it has on Spider-Man is incredible. It really makes Marvel’s Spider-Man compelling.
Finally, there is Miles Morales. Peter and Miles meet just before a tragic event, one that leads to Peter trying to be a good influence and comforting presence for his new friend. Miles’ segments tend to have a sense of desperation to them. There are stealth portions, though he does not have the luxury of Spider-Man’s abilities to quickly zip out of sight or sense enemies. We also see him help Parker with a hacking portion. Again, his spots have more of an adventure element to them, letting us see what life must be like for Spider-Man’s friends who get caught up in his world and often dangerous activities.
These extra characters help shape the story as much as Spider-Man does. By seeing how the people around Peter Parker act, Marvel’s Spider-Man feels more authentic. It covers more bases. It gives us more kinds of gameplay to enjoy. The diversity lets us see what is like to not only be a superhero, but to see the people he knows who might find themselves influenced by and caught up in his activities. It results in a richer experience.