Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight – The Switch Island Review
I’m sorry Bombservice, but I’ll admit I was surprised that three Momodora titles have been released before this one. Luckily not everyone was as out of the loop as me, and others have been enjoying the Momodora series on Steam, PS4 and Xbox since 2010. I hope it goes without saying that I played this latest one on Switch, the indie console of dreams. Obviously I haven’t played any earlier Momodoras for comparison sakes, but with all four games being funded by Patreon – isn’t the internet lovely – I’m hoping Bombservice would like to try and crowdsource for a cheeky Switch collection…
Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight isn’t just a mouthful of a name (Momodora IV from now on). It’s also a side-scrolling action platformer, in the style of a NES game but with all the new colours and design skills we have in the 21st century. You play as a priestess, Kaho, who’s exploring a dark melancholic world and working to expunge a pesky curse and suppress the machinations of a nasty queen. What would adventurers do without curses and evil queens?!
Kaho’s movement is responsive and well handled. Combat is good, but possibly a bit run of the mill. Kaho can melee attack with a big leaf (of course) or range attack with a bow and arrow. As per the conventions of the genre, there’s a variety of enemy types milling about that would benefit from a leaf to the face (if they have a face). None of the enemies present a huge challenge, but Kaho isn’t very tough and so only requires a couple of hits before she shrieks her way back to the checkpoint. The bosses are much more of a challenge however, so be prepared for a fight. The main annoyance, difficulty-wise, was the instant death from spikes. Sekiro fans will be delighted to know there are three difficulty levels. I played on normal, and the game was the right level of challenge for me. If you’re new to these sorts of games, which lean towards the unforgiving, then perhaps consider the easy mode. The checkpoints are spaced well though, diminishing much of the frustration.
Momodora IV has light Metroidvania elements, so there is some backtracking, but that aspect of the game is very minor. It’s not that the game is linear, it’s not, but there’s only one ability you obtain that allows for travel in new directions and it doesn’t really get utilised a great deal, which is a shame. It’s a cool ability and I won’t spoil it, except to say I squeed a little bit. Something else that could be developed more would be the navigation. A couple of times I reached a dead-end and had to retrace my steps, unsure where to head next; not the most fun you can have gaming in 2019. My bias is towards Metroidvanias with lots of secrets and lots of unlockable paths and abilities, and Momodora IV leans away from that for the most part, towards the constrained end of the spectrum, making it a good option for those who get frustrated or lost.
Visually, I found the game appealing. There’s a botanical vibe going on with flowers making up some of the key useable items, alongside the fairly typical array of potions and charms. The graphics are that augmented 8bit style we’ve all been enjoying over the last few years, making the characterisation and whimsical world top notch. One aspect I definitely appreciated was the entirely female cast; a rare thing even today. However, before praising the devs too highly for this progressive stance, one of the bosses’ weak points is her giant boobs, a choice that seems out of place with the rest of the game.
Momodora IV is definitely a good game of its ilk. It doesn’t do much to stand-out except for one thing I’m not spoiling and it doesn’t develop that quite enough. But it doesn’t do anything bad either. It’s nice to look at, plays well, has cool characters, with good design choices (for the most part). It’s a neat little gem. It’s difficult to recommend if you haven’t played Hollow Knight, Salt & Sanctuary, SteamWorld Dig 2, but if you have played those and are looking for something more manageable in the same sort of vein, then this is a charming game to spend five to ten hours with. I look forward to Bombservice being commissioned to make a fifth one with an even longer title.
Game: Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight
Release date: 10/01/2019