Review: Marvel's Spider-Man: The City That Never Sleeps

 Back at it again.

Console: PlayStation 4 game played on a PlayStation 5.

Just like I did with Horizon Zero Dawn and its add-on The Frozen Wilds, once I finished & reviewed Marvel’s Spider-Man for the PS4, I immediately jumped into the DLC: The City That Never Sleeps. 

Insomniac decided to do something different with The City That Never Sleeps (a term used to describe New York City, just FYI for my fellow non-Americans) release strategy. Instead of releasing it in one go they went with the Telltale style and released it in 3 chapters spread out over 3 months. An interesting strategy though one that didn’t pan out I feel. I can remember a lot of people at the time who chose to simply wait until it was all out and then ‘binge’ it. Still, a fun little tidbit for the intro here! 

So, back to business. Is this an add-on worth buying? If you liked the base game and want some new story content and more to do then yes, it's. Beware though: the add-on is rather light on content and is the definition of ‘more of the same’. 

Let’s dive in.

  

A few months after the Devil's Breath crisis the Magia Crime Family seek to fill the void left by the takedown of Wilson Fisk AKA the Kingpin. During all of this, the master thief Felicia Hardy AKA The Black Cat returns to town, stealing a painting right out under the noses of both Spidey and the Magia. This simple theft leads Magia boss Hammerhead to declare open war on the rest of the Magia leading to a gang war and the return of super mercenary Silver Sable to the city. 

The story of The City That Never Sleeps is… fine. Just fine. I think an apt way of describing it is that, if the story of the main game is a theatrical movie, the add-on is a direct-to-video flick. It’s good and enjoyable but doesn’t feel as high quality. Pacing is one consistent problem. The chapters are too short to get going or it feels like they miss the third act.

The 1st chapter, ‘The Heist’, fares the best in my mind. It doesn’t suffer from the pacing issues that much, there is a good setup with the return of Black Cat, a relatively well-known character with an interesting and personal history with Peter. A character with a mystery to unravel and some very fun interactions with Spidey which is in large part due to the chemistry between voice actors Yuri Lowenthal and Erica Lindbeck.

I do have to say though: I find her a bit unlikable. Like, her entire deal is that she’s Marvel’s Catwoman (I mean, just look at her) so being a backstabbing thief with a heart bigger than she would like to admit that walks the fine line between hero and villain comes with the territory. Black Cat falls too much into the villain category here and is thus a bit too unlikable. 

She might come close to being unlikable, but her scenes with Spidey are a treat to watch.

Chapters 2 and 3, ‘Turf Wars’ and ‘Silver Lining’ don’t fare as well; the pacing issues keep persisting. On top of that Hammerhead, the big villain of The City That Never Sleeps falls as flat as an iron-plated forehead. He’s your stereotypical Italian mafia boss but without any of the depth or flair that takes a sci-fi dive out of nowhere, that doesn’t do anyone any favours. 

These things are not deal breakers and each chapter has at least a side-story or a b-plot that runs that’s fun and interesting for as shortly as they last but it just underscores how underwhelming the narrative is. 

That’s quite a bit of focus on the story, but in my defence, that is 90% of what The City That Never Sleeps offers. There are new side activities but not many of them and in terms of gameplay, there are no additions or changes. You still web-sling around the city beating up bad guys in a combo system. There are no new skills and no new gadgets. There isn’t even a higher-level cap. Only new costumes. 

Perhaps add-ons like Blood and Wine and The Frozen Wilds have spoiled me on this front, but I would’ve liked something on these fronts. It would’ve gone a long way in making the experience feel a bit fresher and it would’ve also added some extra value to the add-on. Using these new gadgets and skills during a New Game+ replay would’ve been neat. 

The new side activities are, in essence, more of the same. New crimes occur around the city for you to tackle, from two gangs fighting each other to using your trust Spider-Bot to prevent car bombings. We have a returning Screwball giving you challenges, from stealth section to combat challenges where you have to take down thugs using only a combination of two of your gadgets. 

Screwball can get on your nerves with er social media antics but the challenges themselves are fun and creative, especially those gadget challenges. Each chapter also comes with some new collectables, like finding art stolen by the original Black Cat AKA Felicia´s dad that and each chapter has its basses full of bad guys to tackle. 

They’re fun activities but nothing you haven’t seen in the base game. 

Conclusion

Spider-Man: The City That Never Sleeps is a fine add-on. It gives players a new story, some new activities to tackle as well as some spiffy new costumes. That’s, however, all it adds. The story isn’t bad, but underwhelming and not the strong hook the narrative of the base game is. There are no big gameplay additions or new features. The stuff it does add (the activities) is fun but nothing you haven’t seen before. The add-on isn’t bad mind you but it doesn’t make for a ‘must buy’ expansion. 

If you want some more Spider-Man content… I’d go and seek out Miles Morales first. If that’s either too expensive for you or you still feel like scratching that itch, then I would give The City That Never Sleeps a shot. 

The price, for the content you get, is fair. 

Comments