Title: Momodora Reverie Under the Moonlight

Platform: Windows, Steam

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Metroidvania, Action Platformer

Players: Single player




Written by Bad Demoman 19th June 2016



















Momodora Reverie Under the Moonlight isn't a game I'd been hotly anticipating. In spite of the fact that it's the 4th in its series, it's not a game that I was eagerly waiting for as a massive fan of the previous games. It's not a game I'd heard a massive amount about, or even anything about it at all – by complete chance, something the developer said was retweeted by someone I happen to follow. So with nothing to go off of but the art style and the general concept, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started playing Momodora Reverie Under the Moonlight.


In all fairness, the art style alone is more than enough to entice me to Momodora. The presentation is absolutely beautiful, with some of the most fluid and detailed sprite art I've ever seen. This may seem like an extremely small thing to be all that excited about, but the sprite for the protagonist, Kaho, actually changes colour depending on her surroundings to reflect the lighting of the area. Standard fare for a Triple A title perhaps, but that level of detail from a small indie affair is unanticipated, and as a result all the more impressive. The setting is quite varied, from the bright and vibrant Sacred Grove and Memorial Park to the almost Bloodborne-esque gloomy City of Karst. Each of the areas is further characterised by a beautiful soundtrack that mostly consists of ambient noise rather than music. This beautiful artwork contrasts a very dark setting – looking at the characters of Momodora, you may be expecting a light-hearted adventure, but this thought is quickly and jarringly put down when colourful NPCs can have melancholic and emotional lines that betray their absolute terror and telling you how corrupted the land has become.
























Set 400 years before previous Momodora games, our protagonist Kaho is actually somewhat of a legendary figure spoken of in previous games. Kaho, a priestess who fights demons and other horrors with nothing but a holy leaf and a bow, has set out to seek an audience with the Queen of Karst, as her village has been attacked by horrible creatures. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the Queen herself is the source of these creatures. Karst is a city overtaken by fear, and the characters respond to this in different ways. Some are close to madness with absolute terror, some turn to zealous religious devotion that blinds them to all else, and some are just trying to do what they can to keep going. These different viewpoints paint a detailed, if disturbing picture of life in Karst. Most characters first instinct will be to warn Kaho of the danger of Karst, and tell her to leave. After all, a young priestess doesn't immediately look like someone who could defend herself. Given that Kaho is an outsider, the religious fanatics treat her poorly and her deeds are claimed to be “the work of god” rather than her own efforts. In spite of Kaho's status as a mute hero, interactions with these characters feel fleshed out. As a result it's easy to grow attached to the various denizens of Karst, from the lonely skeleton searching for his wife to a knight of the Queen who is conflicted over her lieges corruption.


Momodora's combat doesn't have the massive variety of weapons that you might expect from a standard Metroidvania, where often the weapon selection is as vast as the sprawling maps. This isn't a bad thing though, as the result is a refined and focused combat system revolving around three simple things – melee combat with the leaf, ranged combat with the bow, and well timed dodge rolls. Combat is impactful and satisfying, which is further aided by the sound design of your attacks. While the surprisingly large and challenging variety of enemies will test your reflexes, the bosses (which are an absolute highlight) often require a methodical and thoughtful approach, taking opportunities carefully rather than mindlessly hacking away. This, combined with the fact that most areas can be tackled in any order you'd like, leads to a game that oddly feels like a better translation of Dark Souls to a 2D medium than any of the games that have intentionally tried to mimic Souls, such as Salt and Sanctuary (which I unfortunately found lacking). One area where it trumps Souls is in boss variety – too often Souls feels bogged down by a small collection of possible archetypes for its bosses. Momodora had no two bosses alike and each one was incredibly unique with no two fights feeling even remotely the same. If the idea of an epic test of your skill on the level of Souls daunts you, dont worry. Multiple difficulties are available, so if you want to just absorb the fantastic setting and story without too much effort, there’s a mode for that!
























Momodora Reverie Under the Moonlight doesn’t need you to play it’s previous games, as it is a prequel. Momodora is an excellent and stand-out game, and I really wish it had gotten more press back in March when it was released. While it doesn’t enthuse me to check out the earlier games (The art style has changed and improved considerably, and most of the previous games aren’t actually metroidvania games). It’s been the biggest and most pleasant surprise of recent years for me – It's without a doubt the best Metroidvania I've ever played outside of the actual Castlevania series. I could even make arguments that it’s better than most actual Castlevania games.



Pros:

Beautiful and vibrant art style,

Methodical and thoughtful combat,

Variety of unique enemies.


Cons:

Relatively short playthrough sitting at five-six hours,

Enemies will occasionally spawn on your character.


Final Verdict,

Momodora Reverie Under the Moonlight gets a 9/10.


Written by,

Bad Demoman



    
















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