After swinging into comics back in 2011, making the jump to cartoons, and then headlining 2018’s excellent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles Morales is finally starring in his own video game. Serving as a smaller interquel between the main Spidey games, Spider-Man: Miles Morales builds on the strongest elements of its predecessor, while avoiding any of the open-world fatigue. The end result is a short but densely packed experience, and an amazing display of the PS5’s capabilities.
Picking up six months after the end of 2018’s Spider-Man, Miles Morales sees the titular junior wallcrawler (Nadji Jeter) finding his feet in the superhero business and trying to earn his webs. This opportunity comes when OG Spidey, Peter Parker (Yuri Lowenthal), goes on a working vacation, leaving Miles to watch over New York. Unfortunately, this is also around the time that a shady street gang called the Underground decide to launch a full-on war with the private army of megacorporation, Roxxon.
Though the spider bite and dead uncle of Peter Parker’s origin story have worn out their welcome in recent years, Miles’ journey from zero to superhero is still relatively fresh ground. A true friendly neighbourhood Spidey, Miles quickly builds a strong connection to Harlem and its residents, delivering a sense of community to the game that even its predecessor didn’t fully manage to capture.
This spirit of togetherness makes each task performed in the borough, from rescuing a lost cat to the explosive finale, feel deeply personal, and gives every emotional beat that much more weight. Further, by focusing on Miles’ roots, the story forges its own strong identity, managing to feel unique even when it drifts into Spider-Verse territory.
Nadji Jeter’s breathless, earnest portrayal deftly highlights Miles’ inherent strength and goodness.
Having debuted as one of the best side characters in 2018’s Spider-Man, Miles transitions easily to a compelling hero in his own right. Nadji Jeter’s breathless, earnest portrayal deftly highlights Miles’ inherent strength and goodness, while weaving in the burgeoning insecurity as he struggles with his new responsibilities. Since Peter is a more seasoned Spidey in this series, Miles’ inexperience makes for a refreshing contrast, keeping the overall world moving forwards, while still offering an origin story of sorts.
Far from being dropped into Peter’s world, Miles’ story is all his own, including the supporting cast. Though his relationship with Uncle Aaron/The Prowler (Ike Amadi) doesn’t quite reach the heights of Spider-Verse‘s similar arc, their interactions, along with the more expanded role for Miles’ mother, Rio (Jacqueline Pinol), allow for some fantastic family dynamics amid the superhero shenanigans.
A more complex character that is wholly unique to this game is Miles’ childhood friend, Phin (Jasmin Savoy Brown). With a layered backstory and strong motivations of her own, Phin’s history with Miles’ tangles up with the Underground/Roxxon war, sending her on an ideological collision course with Spider-Man. Though it plays on themes that are common in spider stories, the conflict between Miles and Phin is a solid emotional core for the story, and mostly manages to avoid feeling derivative as it unfolds.
Backing Miles up as his man in the chair, is best friend and roommate, Ganke (Griffin Puatu). Aside from being a much needed confidante, providing support, quips and suitable excitement over new powers, Ganke also co-develops an app for New Yorkers to request Spidey’s help, bringing the superhero gig squarely into the 21st Century.
Finally, (mostly) taking over the airwaves from J. Jonah Jameson, is podcaster/super fan, Danika Hart (Ashly Burch). While Burch’s chirpy optimism makes for a much more positive Spidey experience, the developers wisely sprinkle in just enough of Darin de Paul’s triple-J to keep the hilariously antagonistic charm that he nailed in the first game.
This elevated experience is the closest thing yet to feeling like Spider-Man.
Despite being the junior Spider-Man, Miles makes for the perfect sequel protagonist, thanks to his impressive array of new powers. Boasting a camouflage reflex and bioelectric discharge, Miles augments his scrappy fighting style with bouts of invisibility and a range of intense electric blasts. The variety this brings to combat is invaluable later in the story, as the enemies are pretty much recycled and reskinned from the first game, and experimenting with different attacks helps to keep things fresh.
Though he fights suspiciously similar enemies to his predecessor, Miles is no Peter Parker clone, and that is made apparent in the way he moves around the city. From his combat move set to his web-swinging mechanics, every part of Miles is built to demonstrate that he is still getting the hang of the superhero gig. Though fairly minor, details such as flailing legs while swinging too fast or a sloppy landing after an aerial attack do most of the heavy lifting in differentiating Miles from Peter, and make this instalment feel like more than just glorified DLC.
A gorgeous enough experience on the PS4 (barring a few cases of texture popping and audio glitches), Spider-Man: Miles Morales really comes to life on the PS5. With options to favour graphics or performance (and now a best of both that adds ray tracing to the 60FPS performance mode), and subtle but effective haptic feedback in the DualSense Controller, this elevated experience is the closest thing yet to feeling like Spider-Man.
While it would have undeniably been more satisfying to have this be a full-length title, there’s a lot to be said for ending a story when it’s done, and not padding for the sake of length. That it managed to deliver a story almost as impactful as that of its predecessor, in half the time, while tweaking combat and exploration, is by itself a pretty impressive accomplishment. Add to that being a generally outstanding showcase of PS5 prowess, and Miles Morales is simultaneously a worthy follow-up to Spider-Man, and an enticing glimpse of the amazing places the webheads can go next.
Verdict: 4.5/5 Paddles