Maybe it’s all the references to their relationship in the Black Cat ongoing written by Jed MacKay. Maybe it was the fake marriage plot in Black Cat Annual #1. Maybe it’s just my trash Peter/Felicia shipper heart. Whatever it is, I can’t stop thinking about Felicia Hardy’s role in Spider-Man for PS4, and how it should have been so much bigger than it was. Now that Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Black Cat Strikes is on its second issue, it’s on my mind even more.
For those who have yet to play the best-selling game, developed by Insomniac in partnership with Sony and released in 2018, Felicia appears as the main antagonist in downloadable content story “The City That Never Sleeps,” which follows after the main game arc. During the main game, she calls Peter from a blocked number and taunts him into coming after her, even providing a specific address where he can supposedly catch her.
Of course, what’s actually at that location is a tape recorder with a message; this prompts a sidequest in which you can swing through New York City and collect a series of cat dolls. There’s also Black Cat graffiti throughout the city, featuring both Felicia and just straight-up felines.
Although you hear Felicia’s voice in the main Spider-Man game, she doesn’t physically appear until the DLC. Peter goes to investigate a Maggia family break-in at the MMoCA, but he’s tricked into thinking they want to steal a famous painting. In actuality, they’re after a thumb drive that’s inside the painting — and when Felicia shows up, smashes the painting, and makes off with the drive, Peter goes after her, only to learn that she’s working for Hammerhead because otherwise, he’ll kill her son.
Yeah, you read that right. Peter is as shocked to learn about the existence of this child as you are, and it immediately sends him on a spiral because — well, is he this kid’s father? Holy shit. I won’t spoil the rest of the arc, but it’s a doozy… and the dynamic explored between Peter and Felicia deserves a lot more playtime in the main game.
On the one hand, Peter and MJ are cute as hell in Marvel’s Spider-Man. MJ is a playable character at a few points, and she gets to be The Guy In The Chair for Peter while also conducting an investigation of her own. She feels fully realized and interesting, and her dynamic with Peter — as they work together and slowly begin to rekindle their romance — is well-paced and beautifully written. It obviously makes sense to have this iconic romance as a focal point in the PS4 story.
On the other, those brief glimpses we get into what MJ and Miles are doing make me hungry for a different version of the game in which I can pick which Spider I want to play. And in a similar vein, I can’t help but wish for Felicia to appear in the main storyline, rather than just the DLC, and for the option to romance her as Peter.
The linear storytelling of this game is super tight and super well-done, but after one or two play-throughs, it gets predictable. Even if there only existed an option to catch Felicia on the Black Cat sidequest, it could open up a world of possibilities for players, and for the in-game universe.
Plus, if we interact with Felicia earlier, with the possible option for romance, it would significantly heighten the stakes of the “is Peter a dad?!” plot in the DLC. That plot will always be gimmicky, in some sense, but spreading out the story and giving players more opportunity to interact with Felicia and her history with Peter would create more layered storytelling, more interesting in-game options, and higher stakes to make the DLC pack even more of a punch.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Black Cat Strikes does fill this void, which makes it even more obvious how interesting a Peter and Felicia romance could be in the video game itself. The developers certainly don’t shy away from the lingering sexual tension between Peter and Felicia in “The City That Never Sleeps” DLC, but the Black Cat Strikes creative team — Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum, Luca Maresca, Rachelle Rosenberg, Travis Lanham, and cover artist Sana Takeda — embrace it fully. They revel in it. And although that may not be for everyone (this comic is extremely Horny On Main), that just reinforces how interesting it could be to have this romance as a playable option in Spider-Man for PS4.
While I can completely understand the decision to make a linear gameplay experience, Spider-Man for PS4 would be even stronger and more fun if players could choose which Spider they want to play or choose different romance options (including no romance, if they desire!) for Peter Parker. Personally, I want to romance the hell out of Felicia Hardy. But I’d also love to play a version of this game where I get to be Ghost-Spider swinging through Earth-65, or where I get to be Miles dealing with the in-game death of his dad and his burgeoning powers.
Given the success of Spider-Man properties like Into the Spider-Verse, as well as how popular Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 has been since its release, it seems inevitable that more Spider-Man video games are coming down the pipeline. My hope is that they’ll feature more character choices to make for even more robust and interesting narratives.