Momodora: reverie under the moonlight

by | Game Reviews

M omodora is one of those indie metroidvanias i just can’t resist trying out. It’s got that nice retro vibe as if i was playing on old consoles, but those great modern responsive controls that make playing even more enjoyable. I love old games but i have to admit it’s a nice evolution to not kill yourself with stiff jumps and the like ^^.

Let’s venture into that colorful yet pretty dark world, filled with nice 2D platforming action.

Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight

Developer: Bombservice

Publisher: AGM Playism

Genre: Metroidvania

The pictures are the property of the developers and publishers mentioned above

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First impressions

First of all, I’ll remind that these are not “professional”, objective journalistic reviews, but my experiences as a gamer with games i liked.

With that out of the way, i’m a BIG fan of the Metroidvania genre, and sinister looking  castles filled with undeads and other dangers. I have to admit that at first, i was a bit afraid this game would turn out to be too cute when i started in the first set of areas: while slightly ominous, the first area is still a bright forest with cute little imps and monsters. I was pretty relieved when i reached the first boss and the castle right after.

The setting gets darker, you start seeing some blood here and there, and enemies begin to look a lot more threatening. While i don’t mind cute games like mario and such, i do expect some darkness and gothic elements from a Metroidvania game. I was glad to find the kind of settings i wanted: castle, underground prison, undeads, gloomy NPCs with even some selling items… The fun exploration can begin!

 

Scarlet moon on the ramparts of a cursed castle… Cliche but I always love it.

Gameplay

The first thing you notice when playing this game is how well controls respond. Attacking and jumping is very satisfying, fast paces and fluid. Not the type of game that makes you want to headbutt your TV after failing the same jump 10 times, which is good. The basic attack is your average sword slash (even if what you’re fighting with is a leaf) with good range, you also have a bow attack to handle distant foes which can also be charged for bigger attack in a Mega Man fashion, and quite a few magic attacks through equipment. You also get a nice little dodge to help with some pesky attacks. I won’t spoil what it is, but there is also a transformation that gives you more mobility.

All these make for a pretty solid experience without any control related problems (at least for me) and allowed me to enjoy the game without struggling with anything in particular.

Gothic kawaii

One of the things I really love about japanese games is this unique way of mixing cute and sexy elements with opposite things like gore, violence and horror. This is the idea behind this game: the character and enemy design look pretty cute (even some bosses) but at the same time the atmosphere gets pretty dark and bloody (not too much either, but enough to contrast with the cuteness of most of the inhabitants of this world). Of course some bosses look more intimidating than others.

Speaking of bosses, I did enjoy their variety in terms of gameplay and appearance. All the size types are here, from gigantic to normal human size, some relying on magic and abilities while others are more oppressive and chase you around. there’s even a 2 on 1 boss battle that can be pretty annoying on the highest difficulty.

 

Metroidvania mechanics

This is why I play this type of game. One of the great perks of this genre to me is how rich the whole map can be in terms of secrets to find, and I was not disappointed here. The first type of secrets are optional areas you can find anytime but are easily missed or/and ask to complete a little challenge (whether it’s fighting an optional enemy or getting through a platforming section) to get collectible or bonus item such as life boosters. The second one are also secret optional areas or items to get but are more obvious to find, it’s just that you need to have learned a specific ability in order to get to them, meaning some backtracking will be necessary. And this final type of secret in this game is how you can get bonus items from all bosses by not being hit by them once. Each boss has a different item to offer that way, especially those equipable ones that give you access to additional powers such as a meteor shower, or add passive effects to your attacks.

My favorite bits in this game

As a lover of dark, gloomy places to explore (yes I love dark souls why?), I really enjoyed my time exploring the castle section in particular which represents most of the game’s setting. Lots of nooks and crannies to find and explore, nice boss battles in which I tried to not get hit to get the extra rewards, and gloomy NPCs you never know if they’re allies or enemies in disguise as some of them seem to have gone a bit crazy in time in this cursed land. Since this is a rather small game, I was glad for the extra things to do beside secret hunting, such as the higher difficulty mode, the “pacific” playthrough in which you can’t kill anything except bosses, the trophies for exploring 100% of the map or finishing a playthrough without dying once. There’s even a secret “true” ending to discover.

%

My personal rating

  • Gameplay 90% 90%

Pretty good gameplay overall for this game. I had a lot of fun jumping around and fighting with the simple and fast paced controls and can’t accuse the game if i failed something. Being able to use items, get extra powers through special boss items, and having a transformation really added to the overall experience and those extra things are often what lots of other games are lacking.

  • Audio 90% 90%

Pretty nice soundtrack overall for this game I really enjoyed it. While i regret not having any voice acting in the game (but the retro sound effects while characters talk is also pretty nice) the sounds help give off a creepy atmosphere, such as when you hit a save bell in the gloomy silence and you can hear it resonate a bit. 

  • Graphics 90% 90%

The retro vibe is pretty nice in this game. Sure the graphics are pixelated but not too much either compared to other titles. The charater design is very japanese and cute, and the animations are pretty cool and make the game come to life. Just have a look at Lubella’s giant boobs animation when you hit her. Japanese game alright down to the details !

  • Lifespan 70% 70%

While I understand this is a pretty small game, I can’t help being sad it was over so quickly. Even after all the treasure hunting and trophy hunting, I wanted more ! I do appreciate the developers didn’t try and put some “artificial” lifespan in their game though, such as useless farming. Everything you do in this game is useful and has purpose, even the trophies and that’s how it should always be as far as i’m concerned. Great job guys, just a bit longer next time please.

  • Writing 70% 70%

This is one of the only lacking parts of this game in my opinion. There is a nice little story in place but very little detail and lore about it. I love the atmosphere and some NPCs look pretty interesting and I think it’s too bad there’s not more details about them. Take Lubella for instance, she even talks to you before the fight, but you don’t learn much about her in the end. I do like the fact there are several endings though.

 

  • Trophies 80% 80%

Pretty nice trophy list for this title. No platinum as it is a pretty small game, but i’m not one to ditch games just because they don’t have one. I love hunting trophies, not just platinums. I do wish there a few more entries but the 10 trophies this game has to offer cover up the entire content pretty nicely: you need to clear the difficult mode, do the pacific run, find pretty much everthing, explore everything… Only regret for me: no trophy for beating every boss without getting hit, as I did that anyway because of the extra rewards you get doing that. Could have been a nice gold trophy ^^

The final word for Lubella

The final word for Lubella

“ Boing ! ”

In conclusion

If, like me, you like Metroidvania games, I can only encourage you to give it a try. A bit short and not at all that difficult to 100% if you’re a trophy hunter, but really fun and still has enough challenge to keep you content. I enjoyed exploring this little world and uncovering most of its hidden treasures and could go for more any day. Very good gloomy atmosphere in an otherwise cute game with nice gameplay, character design, references, and challenges.

Everything is there to have a good time. I hope to see more nice work from this team, can only get better.

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