Developer(s) – rdein
Publisher(s) – rdein
PEGI – Not yet rated (non-graphic violence)
Released back in 2010 in a very low-key and obscure manner, Momodora went on to develop somewhat of a cult following, spawning two sequels and a spin-off, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, which along with Momodora III, saw a full release on Steam. Though this game clearly has its fanbase and did lead the developers to go on and do even greater things, the series had a very slow start in my opinion. Releasing the original two games on Steam would only probably work as a bundle along with the other Momodora games with how short they are as well.
Graphics – 7/10
The visuals are much different to the types of locations and the mythology that the Momodora series would later perpetuate, with the game having much more of a science-fiction look to it as opposed to high fantasy or gothic horror. The game bears a striking resemblance to the likes of Metroid, Xeodrifter, and Axiom Verge; especially as they’re 8-BIT rendered. The soundtrack is also in chiptune, which would change from Momodora II to a more orchestral soundtrack, but the tracks in the game are quite well composed.
Gameplay – 7/10
The gameplay is also fairly entertaining in addition. It’s a linear 2D sidescroller, whereby the player must collect various different items throughout and discover new and better weapons to become more effective in combat with a boss fight thrown in at the end. Again, perpetuating a very different style of combat to the rest of the series, players are given guns to use as opposed to swords, bows, and magic spells. It’s obvious that this series was something extremely different at first, and was later envisioned as something else entirely. There are a couple of common elements linking each game, but how it later evolved is very interesting indeed. In terms of gameplay, later entries would also go on to become even more entertaining than the first, but what is here in the way of that is pretty good.
Controls – 10/10
There are also no issues with the controls as expected; it’s even bearable to play this game using a keyboard, and I don’t often think that of platformers exclusive to PC. If it was a more fast-paced platformer, then most likely the controls would’ve been a huge problem, but thankfully, that isn’t the case here. It’s a reasonably paced platformer with no additional complication in terms of its control scheme.
Lifespan – 1/10
Lasting less than an hour, the game is criminally short; especially for 2010 when other indie games were being released that could be made too far infinitely longer. It may be easier for fans of the series to simply rate the series as a whole as opposed to rating each installment separately, especially as in all fairness, each game is relatively cheap, but looking at the first game on its own merits, 40 minutes is a pitiful amount of time to last; not since the mid-80s has less than an hour been the industry standard.
Storyline – 5/10
The story of Momodora takes place in the land of Koho where a young orphan girl has entered a forbidden land after her mother had been sacrificed, as is customary in Koho. The orphan girl travels to this forbidden land in order to find a hidden power reputed to bring the dead back to life. The closest game I could draw comparisons with in terms of story is Shadow of the Colossus, albeit regarding concept as opposed to quality. The story sounds good in its basic premise, but there isn’t much, at least until the end, to get players particularly invested in the narrative. And even come to the end, the way the story is closed out is very questionable. It doesn’t challenge players to speculate about what the ending means, but rather it’ll make them question why this was the best ending the developers could come up with.
Originality – 2/10
The game’s second-biggest problem (second to lifespan), is how unoriginal it is. As I said before, the series would go on to become something far more distinct than what it started out as with the first game, but in every way, it’s possible to draw comparisons with many other games that came before it; some for the right reason, but many for the wrong reasons as well. I can’t help but feel that this was largely a question of trial and error on the developer’s part; a learning curve before building on the series in a far more positive way.
Overall, while the first Momodora game has its merits here and there, it is ultimately a very flat and generic gaming experience that’s screaming out for improvement. It’s fairly fun to play and the graphics are good to look at as well, but there’s simply not enough of any of that to be had with lasting as short a time as it does, and there’s not much separating it from games made of the same ilk.