Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight Review
Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight (referred to as Momodora from here on out) is a “Metroidvania” style adventure and also a perfect example of why I should pay more attention to my PC when it comes to gaming. Released in 2016 on Steam, Momodora is actually the fourth game in a series that I had no clue even existed but am sincerely glad to have rectified. It’s a prequel to the original game to boot, making it a perfect place for new players to dive in. Releasing on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for the first time, Momodora is about to earn some new fans and a much wider audience, deservingly so.
You’re thrown into the story immediately playing as a young priestess named Kaho, who is on a journey to the Kingdom of Karst in order to squash the spreading of a horrible curse. Story moments are fleshed out via short dialogue scenes with NPCs you meet along the way and those NPCs are actually made up of some initially intriguing characters. Characters who unfortunately don’t get fleshed out much. The story itself is fairly thin, but this isn’t really a bad thing, it’s just enough to keep you engaged and wanting to finish the adventure. In essence, it’s all it needs to be and nothing more.
“Combat and movement is very smooth and satisfying with responsive controls and wonderful animation.”
It wasn’t until I started to really get a grip on the combat mechanics and traversal that Momodora clicked for me. It took a good 45 minutes or so before I had adjusted to the difficulty and enemy habits but once I did I couldn’t put Momodora down. Combat and movement is very smooth and satisfying here with responsive controls and wonderful animation. You have a dodge mechanic that allows you to roll past enemies and get the jump on them from behind with close range melee combat. Ranged combat is also an option – realistically, a necessity – with a trusty bow and arrow which can be charged up and upgraded. Even an air dodge maneuver can be obtained which allows you to chain more actions together and reach previously unreachable places.
Speaking of move-sets, it wouldn’t be a “Metroidvania” style experience without the need to upgrade Koha’s abilities in order to traverse certain areas of the map. Momodora does a nice job of balancing the pacing of finding these upgrades and discovering the next was always exciting. I only wish there was more of them. Outside of the ability to morph into a cat to explore tight narrow spaces and the aforementioned air dash, there aren’t any abilities that truly change how you play and mix up the experience. You will definitely want to seek out each and every one of the heath upgrades though.
Momodora’s more common enemies presented me with a solid challenge at first, especially when my health bar was a sliver of what it would eventually become, because they are absolutely ruthless with their projectiles. It rarely feels unfair but there are certainly moments of frustration now and then as a projectile from an enemy off-screen comes flying at you unexpectedly. Boss battles, to which there are a few, are fun but the moment you identify their vulnerable moments they go down a tad easy.
“The art direction in general, from the backgrounds to enemy and boss design is quite good.”
Purchasing items from a vendors conveniently found in many areas of Momodora’s maze of a world can greatly benefit your adventure. These items, active and passive, affect how aggressive or defensive you may play in any given situation. One item allows for enemies to drop double the money they normally would (used to purchase new items) or you could instead equip an item which grants you a (very) slowly regenerating health bar at the expense of enemy loot drops. Items which increase attack power and potions to refill health are also available. There is limited slots available so swapping items when needed is the key here. Thankfully, the purchased items never make you feel overpowered but instead just give you the slight edge needed in tough moments.
Technically speaking, Momodora shines. The pixel art is detailed and attractive and as I briefly mentioned earlier, the animations are fantastic. Kaho jumps, dashes and rolls with wonderful expression and even her idle animations are charming. The world is also quite detailed and the use of color and contrast is strong. The art direction in general, from the backgrounds to enemy and boss design is quite good. It should be pointed out that Momodora actually uses a 4×3 aspect ratio so you’ll have black bars on the sides of your screen. Possibly off-putting to some but I found it adds to the retro vibe.
If I have any other criticism of Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight it’s simply that a little bit more environment variety would be appreciated as the world becomes very familiar quickly and I just want more of it in general. The ending came all too quick and left me slightly underwhelmed. Skilled players will be able to open up the map to 100% and get the true ending in no time. It took me, a player of average skill, roughly 6 hours to complete, and now having a good grip on the gameplay, I could probably bang out the whole map in half that time. That said, the run-time is balanced out by the cost of entry as Momodora only costs $9.99 US.
While Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight doesn’t hit the highs of recent genre entries such as Ori and the Blind Forest it certainly offers fans of “Metroidvania” adventures a worthwhile and fun experience with great combat, solid world design and a wonderfully charming aesthetic that manages to feel fresh in spite of its pixel veneer.
*** PlayStation 4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Satisfying combat
- Wonderful art & animations
- Great map layout
- Fun boss encounters
- It can be a fairly short experience
- Not enough environment variety