Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is the fourth in a series of Metroidvania games by Bombservice. I haven’t played the first three, but I don’t think it’s necessary to do so in order to understand this one. Maybe playing the earlier ones would explain some of the story holes. Like, why are witches so giant? And why must you smack them in the boobs until they die? But, I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re going to do up this review The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly style. Cue up the Morricone…
Gameplay: It’s a Metroidvania! Metroidvanias are usually pretty fun. Momodora: RUtM is no exception. You explore a 2D landscape and collect powers and abilities that allow you to reach more areas that contains powers and abilities that let you access more areas. 20 GOTO 10 and so forth. We’ve all been here before and we love it. Momodora (at least I think that’s the main character’s name. I mean… I assume it is?)*, is a Priestess. She smacks things with a leaf. You can do some basic two and three hit combos and enemies make a satisfying 16-bit squishy noise when you defeat them. You also have a ranged bow attack, a defensive roll, and the obligatory gravity defying double jump**. For the most part (see my reservations in The Bad sections) it feels polished as it should from the fourth outing in a sequence.
Graphics: The graphics are cute 16-bit era pixel art. The backgrounds are evocative of the various stages (Forest! Graveyard! Obligatory Fire Level!) and both the heroine and the enemies have a good amount of personality. I really liked the enemy design on some of the more irritating creatures (the naked babies and the teleporting wizards come to mind), it made me really want to smack them down. The designs have a certain… sass. I think you can call making me hate a cute little imp sprite a win from the character design standpoint from a twisted misanthropic standpoint.
Challenge: This game is hard. And on one level I appreciate that (see below for other level). Many Metroidvanias are on the easy side with combat being more of matter of finding a more powerful weapon and blasting/hacking away with it. A leveling mechanic just compounds this, as you can just grind your way past most challenges. I’m calling out the GBA/DS era Castlevanias in particular on this. Momodora made me work for it. Some areas you just had to make the call to roll through and try to dodge hits rather than take on everything. I respect that.
Gameplay: For the most part the gameplay is solid. It just feels a bit sloppy at times. Particularly I didn’t feel the hit detection on the enemies was 100% great. Sometimes I’d hit an enemy and there’d be no visible cue that I had done any damage. This was a little bit frustrating when attacking some of the tankier enemies. The platforming also felt a bit off with Momodora*** clipping through platforms I swear I should be able to reach. None of this really detracted, but it wasn’t nearly as tightly controlled as I would’ve liked.
Level Layout: The overall level layout is remarkably horizontal. You mostly travel either east or west with very limited vertical movement. I’m guessing the goal was to design a world more along the lines of Simon’s Quest or the Shantae games, but I felt that it made for a few too many screens that were simply moving you left or right with little other purpose. This kind of design makes backtracking a hassle as well. I’m not really feeling too poorly at Momodora: RUtM for this, the high point for world design was Symphony of the Night which had very little wasted space in Dracula’s sprawling castle. That game pretty much spawned the genre and no game has really been able to equal its world design since, so I guess I can’t really blame Momodora for not succeeding here.
Challenge Level: As much as I appreciate the difficulty level on one level this here is another level. There a level of difficulty which is on the level, but there is also a level where difficulty is old school nonsense. Momodora has some old school nonsense. Enemies tend to fire at you from off screen which feels a little cheap. The roll mechanic feels a bit fussy where sometimes you’ll just be one pixel off and take some damage. This ties into the slightly sloppy gameplay implementation (see above). If yer gonna make a hard game, you best make sure the controls are super tight, see? Also, one of the boss creatures shot bullet hell bullets at me. That right there, is new school nonsense.
Boobs: Sigh. Okay. So, the second boss of the game is a giant witch out of nowhere. She has giant boobs. Her weak spot his her giant jiggly boobs. I mean… I meeeeaaannn… I’m sitting here playing this game… sitting here playing this game in 2017… and wondering why this pandering to thirteen year-old sex starved boys is still happening in games. Do better. Do better, everyone.
*I just looked it up. Her name is not Momodora.
**This isn’t a criticism of Momodora: RUtM, but I feel like the double jump is a kludge or sorts. Like you couldn’t be bothered to tighten up the platforming so that a single jump would suffice. It’s pretty obligatory in Metrovanias, but I still think it’s sloppy.
***Yes, I know that’s not her name.