MO:Astray (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Eric Ace 24.03.2021

Review for MO:Astray on Nintendo Switch

MO:Astray, developed by Archplay, fits snugly into the Metroidvania vein with some notable differences. For those who may not know what this term means, Metroidvanias are a type of platformer where new moves are gradually acquired whilst exploring a sprawling level structure, with the player character getting stronger and stronger along the way. MO:Astray differs in that the experience is one-way without backtracking and the protagonist largely lacks any way to attack enemies.

MO:Astray is a very distinctive platformer that has players take the roll of a blob that plops along and flings itself for jumps, always moving forward and without any type of attack. Having some high marks in story and setting, it falters when it comes to platforming. Taking place in a sci-fi world that slowly reveals itself, the setting, backgrounds, and story are generally fairly interesting, but the experience starts to trip over itself with pacing, difficulty, and length issues.

As MO:Astray opens up and the blob gets ready for action, a vague plot understanding is exposed in which a science experiment has gone wrong, everyone is dead, and all that remains is strange plants and zombies of the old crew. It starts off with assuming control of a small green blob whose only ability is to fling itself forward in a type of jump. It can briefly cling to walls from which it has to jump to the next platform in time before it falls.

Screenshot for MO:Astray on Nintendo Switch

The story is told in a unique way via flinging the blob, named MO, onto a zombie's head to reveal their last memories as a human, which does a great job of setting the post-apocalyptic stage. These memories include various excerpts and blurbs about the ship or space station falling apart, people running for their lives, and so on. It's an intriguing way to tell the story; however, there are so many zombies to read and most don't actually have anything major to contribute. This section kept the game going against its problematic platform roots.

As good as the story and setting are, what with the rusted metals, broken machines and so on, the platforming leaves a lot to be desired. MO moves very slowly and the jumping is wonky. The character has a very strange momentum-losing jump that looks something like a horizontal "J" in that it starts off strong and then falls completely flat midway through what would be expected. Far too often, a jump that seems reachable due to many years of playing similar games sees the hapless blob plummeting to his green death. Normally something like this wouldn't be a huge deal but the jumps are required to be very precise and very quick with any mistake resulting in instant death; thus, MO's actual jumping abilities are a clear flaw.

Screenshot for MO:Astray on Nintendo Switch

The typical pattern a room falls into is presenting some sort of puzzle to decode that revolves around timing a jump to multiple platforms. The puzzle element was somewhat appreciated, though sometimes they were incredibly obscure; more often than not they simply were frustratingly hard to execute rather than figure out. Many times, jumps were matters of luck and hoping that the platform would be there, amounting to many spike-trapped deaths. As MO:Astray progresses and new moves are learned, instead of it feeling like an upgrade it mostly just adds a ratchet to the annoyance scale; new abilities amount to little more than additional gimmicks that can be used as a difficulty bar. While there is a health bar, it didn't really make sense to include as 90% of obstacles can instantly kill the blob no matter how much life it has.

Screenshot for MO:Astray on Nintendo Switch

Pretty early on, there is a voice that starts talking to MO, presumably someone that survived the event and is now a guiding figure. It is another point of immersion as she talks about "what happened here", but unfortunately this gets a little old as well. Oftentimes her dialogue box pops up on the bottom of the screen right in the middle of some crazy platforming, and the number of dialogue lines missed are many due to this design decision. Something odd in this character is that her speeches are always preceded by various moans of "uhhh!" or "ahhh!" that sound more sexual than anything else. It's an odd mix of creepy and funny which does not serve the general narrative.

In the end, MO:Astray falls into a typical pit which far too many indie titles do. There are some very great points dragged down by some very significant problems. The story and setting are great, but after a while the platforming very quickly turns into more of the same, only more difficult. Flinging this blob around stops being interesting and, as compelling as the story is, it is not enough to sustain interest in the face of its fundamental structural problems.

Screenshot for MO:Astray on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

The story and presentation are very unique and deserve high praise; the narrative keeps the experience going whenever the platforming starts to get boring and fall flat. Too often, MO:Astray amounts to cheap deaths and pixel-perfect jumps, which severely detracts from what would have been a completely outstanding sci-fi exploration game. Simply put, flopping around as a blob eventually gets old.

Developer

Archpray Inc.

Publisher

Rayark

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, Dragon0085

There are 2 members online at the moment.