You spend the bulk of Insomniac’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales suited up and swinging across the Manhattan skyline busting villains. But there are a handful of moments peppered throughout the game that bring you to Miles’ new home in Harlem, where he and his mother Rio move to give themselves a fresh start somewhere closer to her roots.
At the same time that Miles is settling into his life as New York’s newest Spider-Man, the game also takes time to focus on how the family dynamics shift as Rio makes a go at becoming a local politician. Rio and Miles’ new apartment—the same one his grandmother once lived in before moving back to Puerto Rico—is both the base of Rio’s political campaign and the place where Miles Morales gives you a sense of what family means to Miles. It’s where he and loved ones like Ganke Lee and Phin spend a couple of important moments together during the holidays.
During your first visit to the new apartment, you can actually wander around and interact with the environment as Miles in his civilian guise. You’re given the chance to see how the Morales family’s still in the process of unpacking and shipping off the last few items that belong to Miles’ grandmother. It’s initially weird for Miles to see his mother’s physical growth over the years immortalized in a series of notches carved into one of the apartment’s door jambs, but the more he explores, the more it begins to feel like the sort of place that he can see as his new home.
Each of the small interactive targets scattered throughout the apartment change whenever the game brings you back to it. They draw attention to fine details that clue you into the day-to-day elements of Miles and his mother’s life. Wandering through Miles’ bedroom, you can see traces of the hours he’s spent dreaming up new costumes for himself when he isn’t hunched in front of his keyboard or mixing board crafting new beats as a hobby.
During the holidays, the Morales’ apartment is decorated to the gills in festive ornamentation and your interactions with Rio are limited as she’s busy preparing the night’s dinner while also fully consumed in a phone conversation. The game wants you to understand that Miles’ home is where he feels safest, something that plays into the overall deeply intimate story. But what this attention to detail also ends up doing is highlighting just how impressive the apartment actually is.
It is difficult to impress upon people living outside of New York City how much of a dream a genuine two-bedroom, one-bath, with a massive hallway, expansive living room, and a kitchen with counter space is. Places like this do actually exist, sure, but more often than not, they’re prohibitively expensive in ways that make them inaccessible unless you’re willing to drop more than your average pretty penny (or share the space with 10 rent-paying individuals).
Much as Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a game that encourages exploring the whole of Manhattan, the apartment’s one of the few areas that you aren’t able to access freely save for the handful of story beats that force you inside. That means you’re really meant to take it in all while you can before venturing back outside and returning to hero work. Completing the game 100% requires you to start an entirely new save file in order to unlock a few special abilities, and so even if you might have breezed through Miles’ new digs the first time around, there’s still more than enough reason to go back, take some time to check it out, and contemplate what more you could be doing to make your living situation as homey as Miles’.
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