Full Disclosure : Review code supplied by Dangen Entertainment.
The eternal union that is the Metroidvania genre is a fairly rare breed of game. At best, maybe a handful of games grace our systems each year. The new year brought new games, and in January we were given Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight. So here are my initial impressions for those of you too impatient to wait for a full review!
The first thing you will notice when you boot up Momodora is that the game is staggeringly beautiful. The pixel art is absolutely top notch with big, bold pixels giving us a wonderful level of detail. Your character models are equally detailed, with subtle animations that convey an impressive amount of emotion, really bringing them to life. The same can also be said about the boss encounters. So far, they have been either large, or screen filling. The art style is really brought to new levels when these monstrous opponents appear. I am more than excited to see the rest of the roster.
Shout out to the backgrounds which are especially eye catching. I only managed to get through the first two areas for this First Impressions, however both the Forrest and the City of Karst look great. Both are vastly different in appearance, and theme. The Forest is bright, colourful and full of life. Karst is a city abandoned, with only a few terrified citizens scattered around its various streets. It conveys a real sense of loneliness and dread, exemplified by the ominous red moon overseeing the whole environment. If I was being lazy, I would compare Karst to Yarnham in Bloodborne…but I am not going to be lazy.
Momodora also packs a punch in the sound design. The sound track is consistently subtle, but atmospheric. It really hits you with the feeling you are alone, in a dangerous environment. I certainly got a Super Metroid vibe from some of the tunes, which is in no way a bad thing. Sound effects are on point. You know exactly what enemies are nearby, by the various sounds they make when attacking. This is especially important when fighting these weird witch enemies in Karst, who telegraph their attack by laughing. This allows you to dodge their projectile even when they are off screen.
But how is the gameplay? Well it is certainly Metroidvania on the surface, however I did not get any significant upgrades that let me backtrack. I got the sense that the game is fairly linear in its progression, but there were definitely a number of branching paths once I hit Karst that implied that it will open up. The meat of the gameplay is the combat. Combat is a 2 button affair, with your character swinging a maple leaf at enemies, or firing a bow. This may sound simple, but the game does not pull and punches when it comes to difficulty. Enemies will kill you very quickly if you do not plan your attacks and utilise your dodge rolls effectively.
Unfortunately the difficulty, also creeps into the platforming. Now that isn’t to say it is bad by any means. Like combat, the controls are tight, and responsive. The issues crop up with the prevalence of insta-death spikes. Even brushing against them will cause you to die, sending you straight back to your last save point. This is somewhat offset by the frequency in which you hit a save point, but it is still very frustrating.
Overall, Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight seems like a fantastic little game. The only negatives I have at this stage is that the game is a little bit unforgiving with its death spikes, but even then that could even be considered a retro throwback if you wanted to be generous.
Lookout for my full review in the coming days!