Playing a great “metroidvania” is one of the best experiences in gaming, in my opinion, and despite a few glaring flaws, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is great metroidvania.
Wielding a magic leaf, you play as Kaho, a priestess from a small village, who has come to Karst City in order to stop a plague that has beset her home.
This game leans more toward the Castlevania side of the metroidvania genre, both with its gameplay and its tone. The scenery is dark and moody through most of the game, which compliments the somber tone of the story and characters.
The combat is deceptively simple, with only two offensive options–the bow and the leaf–and one defensive–dodging. This simplicity, however, is what creates the difficulty. There are limited options when dealing with foes, necessitating accurate timing for dodges and a thorough understanding of the attack speed and lag, in order to know when to back off. Although the speed of movement in Momodora is a bit slow for my liking, the stiff movement and relatively long attack lag helped me learn the controls through necessity.
All this isn’t to say that Momodora is extremely hard, but it is challenging in a satisfying way. Overcoming a challenge felt rewarding and deaths did not feel unfair, even when it came from me jumping into a bottomless pool of water to see what was underneath it.
That example, although, leads me to two other ever-present issues when playing Momodora: the lack of shrines and lack of explanation. The former is rather straightforward; there are not enough save-points available to the player across the map. There were multiple times in the process of playing this game where I would defeat a boss or miniboss, only to die a few screens after, which reset me many rooms before the boss fight and forced to replay it.
The latter complain may require explanation. While a tutorial after acquiring new abilities or enemy types would be obnoxious, what this game lacks is effective introductions to these mechanics. Game series like Metroid and Mega Man have perfected their methods of teaching in a way that feels like we figured it out ourselves, but Momodora does not do this successfully. Ultimately, it didn’t take long to figure out how something worked, but it took far more trial and error than it should have.
Despite its flaws, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is still a great game with fun gameplay and a beautiful art style, but a few minor flaws hold it back from being excellent. While I absolutely would recommend it to anyone who can spare the $15 USD to purchase Momodora, it doesn’t quite have the spark that other indie metroidvanias like Steam World Dig 2 have had on the same system.
What do you think of Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight? Let us know in the comments.
GAME: Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight
PUBLISHER: Dangen Entertainment
ESRB: T for Teen (Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes)
OBTAINED: Code provided by developer/publisher for this review