By: Devonte Griffiths
Game: Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows Rating: T for Teen Price: $9.99
The Momodora series has always been a relatively obscure entity that has had clear influences from the likes of Cave Story and Castlevania. Though some similarities are kept, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight takes the series in a bold, new direction and stands as one of the best modern Metroidvania titles.
Set up as a prequel to the other games, you play as a young priestess named Kaho who is on a mission to purge the plague that is corrupting her town. Throughout the story, Kaho is met with various interesting characters with diverging relations to the church and their own convictions. Even the smallest characters leave memorable impressions on Momodora’s very straightforward story.
Momodora’s pixelated visuals are incredibly lush with immense amounts of detail. The backgrounds are hand-crafted excellently to complement the overall unnerving mood that the game has. Many of the environments tell stories of their own, without needing to say a word. This is portrayed exquisitely by the details and how the character interactions change when revisiting past areas in the game.
Despite Momodora’s initially cute pixel art, the game is quite grim. It deals with subjects like death, abandonment, and grief. This is reinforced by the foreboding dialogue spoken by the characters and even the descriptions for items received along the way. Although Momodora contains many macabre elements, it still carries a ridiculous amount of charm through its character designs and the few moments of levity it provides. It manages to never dwell too much on the depressing aspects while, not ignoring how significant they are to the game’s tone.
Like any good metroidvania game, the levels are spread out well with various zones and hidden secrets that can be discovered upon backtracking with newly acquired upgrades. The core of combat revolves around three facets: a melee attack, a roll, and a ranged bow. Melee attacks are quick, the bow takes time to charge and the roll is best used to get out of sticky situations. There are multiple items to increase the effectiveness of these tools, but they won’t change your prime way of progressing through the game. Experimenting with specific item combos does make the game varied enough for multiple playthroughs.
Despite the limited tools, combat is very satisfying. Satisfying doesn’t equate to undemanding though as this game is very hard due to meticulous enemy placement that ensures you that nothing will come easy in this game. Enemy variety also plays a part to the sheer amount of enemies on displays. Fire wolves, spellcasting witches, garden fairies, skeletons, bomb-throwing dwarfs, this game has it all. Death is constant in this game, but is never entirely discouraging. Though Kaho is strong, it is clear from the start that rushing into combat will get you killed.
The game’s difficulty is best showcased by its plethora of boss battles. Each boss has a unique motif that matches their area along with a vast move set which will seem difficult at first, but can be overcome with determination, muscle memory and memorization of the patterns. The game’s eerie soundtrack also helps in making each boss memorable and cementing each area into the player’s mind.
For only $10, the game last around 6 hours on a single playthrough. The game is definitely worth your money to experience a simple, ominous tale with some cutesy visuals to ease the dread. Even with the dozens of Metroidvanias out nowadays, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight makes itself distinct with gorgeous visuals, great combat and the perfect blend of hope and despair.