I like to call it ‘chasing the dragon.’ Everyone seems to be attempting to make the next Symphony of the Night. How many times have I heard comparisons to Konami’s classic? More than I care to mention, but with each one I continue to respect the achievement of that title. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is the latest game to chase that dream, and surprisingly it comes closer than most games making that claim.
Hard to believe, but this is actually the fourth game in the series, and with it comes a brand new protagonist named Kaho, while also marking the series debut on the newest round of consoles. I have never played past games, nor even knew they existed, but after spending quality time with Reverie Under the Moonlight, I aim to track them down at some point.
Platforms: XB1 (reviewed), PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
First things first, this game is hard. Everything is out to kill me, and my health is minimal. Spike pits present an instant game over screen, and checkpoints are off the menu, meaning when I die, it is time to backtrack a decent amount. This is remedied within the game by the warp function, which allows Kaho to move between areas after obtaining a specific upgrade. Still, those looking for a challenge will feel right at home, as Momodora will easily test even the most skilled gamer.
The map is laid out in squares, much like any game bearing a comparison to Alucard’s adventure. Kaho gains upgrades that allow her to traverse to new areas. There are even bonus upgrades earned through skill tests, such as defeating bosses without using items, which is a nice touch. The game wears its difficulty on its sleeve, and rewards players for showcasing skill. That said, even novice players can jump in thanks to the ‘easy’ mode. This mode gives players maximum health from the outset, and even equips them with an item that restores hit points. I always appreciate when challenging games give players of lesser skill a chance to experience them.
While the game does practice the tropes of the genre, it also feels vacant in their abundance. Kaho only gains a few new abilities throughout her journey, and exploration feels limited. It is worth noting that the game is not overly long, which is both good and bad. Good in the sense that currently there are far too many massive games out there to find the time, bad in the sense that it never feels like it gets going properly. Just when I felt like the game was opening up, it ended.
Visually the 2D sprites are certainly reminiscent of today’s trends. The game is presented in a 4:3 ratio and animations are superb, albeit limited. The style brings a specific color palette that keeps the dreary overtone going throughout most of it. The areas mesh together well, but I definitely craved more variety the further I got into the game.
It is hard not to recommend Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight to anyone craving that Castlevania vibe. I just wish it had more to it. The lack of upgrades and short lifespan make it feel half-baked at times. However, with a hardcore mode to unlock and neat hidden upgrades scattered throughout, it more than justifies its price tag.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.