Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Xbox One) Review

By Gabriel Jones 21.03.2017 4

Review for Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Xbox One

The village of Lun has become gripped by corruption, and it will soon fade into darkness. Kaho is a priestess, whose kindness is matched only by her bravery. She has taken it upon herself to put an end to this evil. Perhaps the Queen of Karst Castle, known far and wide for her strength, has the answers Kaho seeks. However, it becomes readily apparent that this is more than a mere curse. The greatest city in the land has fallen to despair.

The secret to making a great action-platformer is all in the controls and physics. From the very first moment, the player-character should be in tune with his or her surroundings. If that essential aspect is perfect, then everything becomes second nature. Seamlessly transitioning from running to jumping to attacking is one of the hidden joys of gaming. It's clear that a lot of work was putting into the controls right, and yet rarely does anyone really take the time to appreciate it. Perhaps reviewers should take part of the blame. It's easy to recognise bad controls, but when they're flawless, it's hard to put into words just how well they work. When fighting a difficult monster or leaping through a spike-filled corridor feels as effortless as breathing, well…how does someone praise breathing? It's natural.

These aspects are just one of many reasons why Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight deserves praise. Here is a game that manages to get practically everything right. Its art style is both charming and evocative. The soundtrack is appropriately atmospheric, capturing every moment with almost laser-like precision. The storyline, told mostly with background imagery and brief conversations, is superbly executed. There's replay value in finding all of the hidden items and completing the harder difficulty settings. In short, this title gets checkmarks in all of its boxes.

Screenshot for Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Xbox One

What's going to keep people coming back to this game again and again is the pure joy that comes from simply playing it. The excellent controls sync harmoniously with the meticulously-crafted environments. Spikes are fatal to the touch, but there isn't an overabundance of them. They're sensibly placed, so that the player is not constantly menaced by death. They have the freedom to move around, take in their surroundings, and focus their attention on other possible dangers. The appearance of spikes is conducive to the level design. It's also nice that Kaho has a brief invulnerability after taking damage. Like in the Mega Man series, she can take a hit, land on spikes, and still survive if she can jump out quickly enough.

Granted, level design is more than just knowing where to place the spikes. As is expected of the "Metroidvania" subgenre, Karst Castle and its surroundings are constructed with exploration in mind. Thankfully, unlike some games, Kaho's powers are not designed to serve as "keys." In other words, she won't find a magic gem that opens blue doors, or bombs that serve no other purpose than to blow up cracked walls. In fact, the bulk of the game is open-ended, so there's nothing really blocking her progress, aside from a few doors that require actual keys. Each of her abilities is fun to use, and most of the hidden items simply require an observant eye.

To add to this, each room is appropriately designed. There are very few barren corridors, or hallways that have a couple enemies but are otherwise empty. Not only are their monsters to slay, but there are usually other factors to account for, such as walls and platforms to jump over and onto. Due to the excellent controls, this never feels like platforming just for the sake of it. Again, everything is natural. Getting through each area never feels like busywork, even if it involves backtracking.

Screenshot for Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Xbox One

It's worth noting that Kaho's arsenal is very limited. She has her trusty bow for enemies that are far away, and a leaf to slay anyone that gets close. The weapon system is very appropriate for the game, because it's all she ever really needs. Her inventory isn't going to be cluttered by dozens of useless weapons. Instead, she'll uncover numerous accessories that offer passive bonuses, as well as items that give temporary benefits or restore health. The game is open-ended so that none of these collectibles are required. If she's skilled enough, she can make do with just the essentials. Furthermore, as little time as possible will be spent digging through the inventory. There aren't constant superfluous breaks in the action, so the player remains involved throughout.

Enemy design and placement are other essential aspects that make this game such a joy to play. These foes aren't complex because they don't need to be. They're placed in just the right spots, so that they make Kaho's journey a bit more difficult, but not in a manner that's annoying or obstructing. After all, this game can be completed without killing a single non-boss monster. The bosses are all very well done. There's a nice balance between imposing giants and skilled humanoids. There's not a sliver of unfair design in any of them. This is important not just because it's sensible, but defeating bosses without taking damage results in special items.

Screenshot for Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Xbox One

There's a design philosophy that doesn't work for all genres, but it's quite brilliant when properly implemented. Basically, it involves making a videogame that can be completed, as long as the minimum requirements are met. If the final boss can be defeated by someone who is barehanded and hasn't even levelled up, then that's exactly what's going to happen. Of course, it would be a tremendous challenge, but the fact that it's doable at all says a lot about how well-constructed the game is. As long as the player has enough knowledge of the mechanics and the skill to put them to their advantage, they could tackle any challenge, no matter how underpowered the character they're controlling is.

This philosophy definitely applies to Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight. All Kaho really needs is her leaf, everything else just makes the quest easier. On the first playthrough, someone will undoubtedly make use of everything they come across, but they'll continually push their limits further with every replay. The next run is going to be on hard difficulty, then insane. The no damage/no death runs will follow, and then every single one of Kaho's tools will be taken away (aside from the all-important leaf). These are player-imposed challenges, and they work so well because they're aware of the heroine's limitations, and they know how to complete the game in spite of them.

The existence of player-imposed challenges is a testament to this title's longevity and enjoyment. People like the game so much that they're actively coming up with new ways to play, even though they've already collected all of the achievements. Simply having an excuse to replay such a fantastic game is reason enough to stick with it.

Screenshot for Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is, without a doubt, one of the finest action-platformers around. Given enough time, players might be able to come up with a couple of nit-picks, but what little there is to complain about simply pales in comparison. This is an adventure that one can't help but to play through several times over, long after they've gotten their money's worth. To sum it all up, this game is a required play.

Developer

Active Gaming Media

Publisher

Playism

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I want...

And I recommend Hollow Knight, as well.

( Edited 23.03.2017 20:57 by Adam Riley )

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

FYI, this is actually the FOURTH game in the series.

If I wanted to try the series, do I need to go to the 1st one?

nope. this game actually is a good place to start since it is also a prequel.

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