Tag Archives: Metroidvania

Blu Cover Art

Q&A With Damien Robinett

At the time as when I scouted Astral Ascent on Kickstarter, I also came across yet another French indie title made in a somewhat similar vein, but with a completely different, yet just as exciting, premise. Blu, under development at MyOwnGames based in Paris, is a Metroidvania centering around the titular ninja character set in a world reminiscent of Feudal Japan, but with a lot of twists in terms of conceptual design. Influenced by the likes of Super Smash Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and the modern indie classic Dead Cells, it perpetuates many of the same awesome qualities associated with any classic Metroidvania game; exploration, intense combat, and epic boss fights. It also features a particularly catchy soundtrack composed by award-winning German composer Lukas Piel. Again, wanting to know even more about this compelling-looking Metroidvania, I contacted the game’s lead programmer Damian Robinett to see where the project is in it#s current state, when players can expect to see the finished product, and to learn more about the game’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign, due to begin on April 6th:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/-myowngames-/blu-vs-the-world

Here’s what Damian Robinett had to say about Blu:

 

Blu 1

What were the influences behind Blu?
Several indie games that have come out in recent years, Dead Cells and Hollow Knight in the lead. But also a lot the manga universe. Naruto for example for certain attacks and designs, or to a lesser extent One Piece where I draw on the richness and diversity of its environments.

 

What has the developmental process been like?
Although working alone, I try to manage the development of Blu like any midsize organization. It begins with a reflection phase that lasts several months. Followed by a design phase where I design my game (which often looks like a AAA production on paper). An analysis phase where, depending on the resources available, I extract the fundamental concepts from my game design document in order to reduce them and strengthen the consistency. And it is only then that I start the production phase. At this point, I am moving forward a little on all aspects at the same time, on the one hand, to keep the motivation, on the other hand, because it allows keeping the game balanced and to anticipate the problems in advance. I also devote a couple of hours a day to promoting the game and to discussing with my community.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?
The vast majority of the game mechanics have been implemented. Most of the Level design remains to be done, and as in all Metroidvanias, it will take a lot of time, in the end, to balance the game so that all players can enjoy a nice progression curve.

 

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What has been the most exciting aspect of development?
Discover and test new things. I love to experiment, and being alone on a project means you have to diversify your activities and gain a lot of experience. Both at a practical level and in the organization of the work. Creating new relationships has also been extraordinary, the support in the game developer community is truly amazing, with great empathy and support.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?
Combat mechanics. Starting from nothing, it’s very quick to get something playable, and you progress quickly. But when you have to streamline the gameplay in order to get something really satisfying for the player, it quickly becomes hundreds of hours of testing and tuning to get the character to behave perfectly as the player expects. A good feeling of combat results from the meeting of all the components of a game: animations, visuals/sound effects, physics, code … It’s very hard to obtain.

 

How well has the game been received so far?
Very good. The community of players is extremely benevolent and knows how to judge a game according to its maturity. When I see the enthusiasm that Blu causes I am often afraid to disappoint the players, but although often bugged, the different releases always more or less look like what players expect.

 

Blu 3

How instrumental has fan feedback been across platforms like Discord and Twitter been in shaping the development of the game?
A lot! My community shapes the game in its own way. I take into account all user feedback. I can count on talented game devs, as well as seasoned users who see the game with a fresher eye than mine. All the people who come to give feedback do so in a constructive way. And as is often done in public chats, it allows you to quickly gauge the interest in a new feature. When the change is quick, I often try to make it within the hour rather than writing it down.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?
My goal is to make a simultaneous release on PC, Nintendo Switch, and PS4 before the end of 2022. The console version may be postponed to the first semester of 2023 depending on the scope of the work to be done to port the game. An Alpha, Beta, and several test builds will be released before that.

 

How has having Lukas Piel on board with the project helped to bring the game to life so far?

Lukas brings poetry to the game that I hadn’t envisioned when I first started developing Blu. He weaves a musical universe over the levels that turns a fighting game into a heroic adventure. If there’s one thing I’m sure it’s that the soundtrack will be magnificent. Working with him is a pleasure, I hope I can count on him for all my productions in the future.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?
Verry much! I write down all the ideas that come to mind. Half go by the wayside after a second reading. The second phase is longer, I let it ripen for a while to determine if these ideas really bring something coherent to my game. When you’re a developer, you often tend to program certain features because you CAN do it. But most of the time, the player doesn’t even notice it’s details. You have to know how to bring a little magic, but time is our enemy and you have to know how to do it with relevance.
Then the third phase will come, the one where I will no longer have time to do everything that I have stacked in my to-do list and that it will be necessary to reorganize in order of priority what it is imperative to include in the game and what is optional. We always keep them in a corner for later but even after the release the list of tasks often grows longer.

 

Will there be many stretch goals for the Kickstarter campaign when it’s launched?
Yes, it will mainly be stretch goals aimed at lengthening the playing time with new modes and offering exclusive in-game content to my backers. At each level, the game will also be translated into new languages. I decided to focus my stretch goals and rewards on the game itself and not to diversify into derivative products.

 

Since Blu is heavily influenced by Smash, how exhilarating would it be to see Blu join the roster? What would her final smash move be?
I will quickly imagine that this is not reality and would definitely go crazy if it really was. But I guess it would be like having a part of myself fighting in the arena. I have spent more time with Blu than with any human being for the past two years and I regard her as my own daughter. I don’t think she would match the big names of Nintendo, but for her final attack, I would say a heavy diving attack, Ganondorf-like. She’s a ninja, but she’s not in the delicacy.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?
We have some really cool development studios in France so I will probably stay here. I would say Motion Twin for its cooperative legal form, which encourages developers to believe in and get involved in the projects they develop.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?
Don’t go for it with your head down. You could miss beautiful things. If you are working on a title that is close to your heart, take your time to lay your project down, learn about best practices. Don’t take the easy road, experiment with new things, learn XP before finishing your quests, make friends on Twitter, make a Game Jam with them and meet them in real life if you can. Promotion is hard at first until the day you don’t call it “Promo” anymore, but just a productive break you enjoy. And persevere. Over time, it always pays off.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?
Mainly on Twitter and Discord. I work alone at home so I often go there to chat a little:

Twitter – @blu_vs

Discord – https://discord.com/channels/722365912354652231/730153875901775903

 

Do you have anything else to add?
Yes, there are some friends of mine from Angouleme who are currently live on Kickstarter with their project Astral Ascent, and you should also take a look at it!

 

Indeed, if anyone is interested in checking out Astral Ascent, you can do so via their own Kickstarter page; a link to which can be found in my recent Q&A with the lead programmer at Hibernian Workshop Louis Denizet:

https://scousegamer88.com/2021/03/31/astral-ascent-hibernian-workshop

But for now, I’d like to thank Damian for sharing what information he could about Blu and to wish him the best of luck with the Kickstarter campaign launching April 6th. Blu, like most Metroidvanias released throughout the eighth generation, looks like a particularly engrossing and addictive game, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it’s finally released. In the meantime, I hope you guys check out Damian’s Kickstarter, and that I hope you enjoyed learning more about this awesome-looking game.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Astral Ascent Header

Q&A With Hibernian Workshop

After scouring the Internet for more promising video game prospects, I came across yet another simplistic-looking, yet ambitious title looking to make waves among the indie community. Astral Ascent, the second title from France-based indie outfit Hibernian Workshop following on from their first game, Dark Devotion, is a 2D rogue-lite with intricately rendered 8-BIT visuals, intense combat sequences, and RPG elements in the form of a unique magic-building system. In development since 2019, the game was recently funded on Kickstarter within 36 hours of the campaign going live, and now the target has switched to fulfill the project’s next stretch goal. Wanting to know more about what this will have to offer players upon release, I reached out to the game’s creative director and chief programmer Louis Denizet to ask a few questions about the game, and what drove them to make such a radical departure from their previous game. So  here’s what Louis Denizet had to say about Astral Ascent:

 

Astral Ascent 1

What were the influences behind your game?

We play a lot of indie rogue-lites such as Wizard of Legend, Dead Cells, Hades but games like Children of Morta have been very influential on us for their artistic style.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

We were two, me and Alexandre the artistic director, for several months to set up the intentions then we started working with Gaël and Renan for more than a year on it. The studio works remotely and we mainly iterate a lot on elements we produce until we think things are good enough.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

The game is scheduled for 2023 with an Early Access early 2022 but there is already a demo live on Steam for PC & Mac that includes the co-op with a good level of quality.

 

Astral Ascent 2

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Freedom! We are self-published so we can do what we want and so far every aspect of the game feels exciting to us.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Staying motivated in the long run can be challenging in particular at the beginning where things seem to be very very slow: making the big systems like remapping inputs, localization, etc really took us a lot of effort but this is behind us now!

 

How important has player feedback been throughout the development of Astral Ascent; especially from those players who had played Dark Devotion beforehand?

For now, we are just starting to have player feedback thanks to the demo, for that we even created a specific channel in our discord server where you can post a suggestion and if people upvote your suggestion it can end up in our workflow so we can check that. We think it will very important for the game as we are making a rogue-lite we want to really rely on these suggestions to improve the game. For Dark Devotion fans, so far, feedback has absolutely great and we are very happy about it!

Astral Ascent 3

How well has the game been received so far?

Absolutely great, it was quite a challenge to deliver a good quality game in addition to the Kickstarter campaign, we are a small team so it meant extra efforts but we are happy with the quality!

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

We will release on PC, Mac, PS4, PS5, Switch, so far we did not announce Xbox and DRM-free.

 

In the last few months, I’ve noticed there has been an influx of indie games to have come out of France. Have there been any other French developers out there that have been there to offer further advice or to have taken inspiration from?

Oh yes; the French game developers community is very welcoming and we often talk together to give advice, this has been very helpful so many times!

 

Astral Ascent 3

It’s mentioned in the press kit for the game that Astral Ascent is a far more ambitious project than what Dark Devotion was. In what respects is it more ambitious?

In my opinion: every aspect! The game scope is so much bigger with all the rogue-lite elements, we have 4 playable characters, co-op mode, the dialog system, the controls remapping, etc. This is a very big step up from our previous/first production.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Yes, a lot! We had an 8 slot inventory for spells for both players, for example, each hub NPC has been reworked at least 2 times and we completely changed our main hub, believe it or not, it used to be 3 times bigger with completely different assets.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Dead Mage who released Children of Morta seems like a very good choice from my point of view!

 

Astral Ascent 5

From a developmental standpoint, what have been the most important lessons learned from the development of Dark Devotion going into Astral Ascent?

Good question, again I would say everything! Dark Devotion was started as a learning project, we knew nothing about game development or coding or anything so it was pretty chaotic. Apart from that, I would say pre-production is really something important to learn!

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Do game, do game jams! That is the way!

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

As a studio you can follow us on Twitter we are very active as our Kickstarter campaign is live and we have so much to reveal: https://twitter.com/HibernianWS As a developer you can follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DenizetLouis, or itch.io: https://louis-denizet.itch.io/

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Thanks for the opportunity and thank you for taking the time to read!

 

Astral Ascent 6

I also want to thank Louis for taking the time out of development to provide the answers to my questions and to wish him and all the team at Hibernian Studios the best of luck with Astral Ascent. In recent months, I have encountered a lot of indie developers to have originated from France, and Hibernian Workshop is the latest in an ever-growing list of new and exciting programmers looking to make waves and break new ground. I certainly can’t wait for the release of this game, and I hope you can’t too. If you’d like to check out their Kickstarter page, you can do it via the link below:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hibernian-workshop/astral-ascent

In the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed reading this article because I had a particularly exciting time learning more about this insanely ambitious game.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer  88

SG88 Super Metroid header

Super Metroid (Super NES)

Developer(s) – Nintendo R&D1 & Intelligent Systems

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Yoshio Sakamoto

Producer(s) – Makoto Kano

PEGI – 7

 

Released in 1994 coming up to the twilight years of the Super NES, and finding critical acclaim worldwide and commercial acclaim mainly in North America, Super Metroid is considered to be one of the most influential games of all time, as along with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it helped to pioneer the so-called Metroidvania genre of games; the 2D side-scrolling open-world experience focused on combat, epic story, and exploration. I decided that as I’ve now reviewed a great number of games in the genre, that I’d examine the game where the groundwork was laid, and find out whether or not the experience still holds up to this day, and for me, it did not disappoint. 

 

Graphics – 10/10

One of the most standout features of the game is undoubtedly its beautifully crafter 16-BIT visuals with the game taking place across a number of locations that have since become iconic and synonymous with the Super NES era, including Brinstar, Norfair, and Maridia. This game’s visuals have gone on to inspire a number of retroactive indie titles over the last decade such as Blasphemous and Axiom Verge, and not just Metroidvania titles. For the time, these graphics were revolutionary, and the accompanying soundtrack, composed by Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano, perfectly compliments the wonderfully horrific atmosphere this game perpetuates throughout, which in and of itself, was very much out of character for a Nintendo game at the time, as most Super NES titles, for the most part, focused on happy-sounding music and brightly colored environments.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

Super Metroid followed the basic model of the original Metroid, but with drastic improvements. Players could now combine different types of weapons to create more powerful ones, and the boss fights littered throughout are far better throughout. There’s even more cause for exploration that in the original game or Metroid 2: Return of Samus, and it also comes with the synonymous Metroidvania map system; something which was sorely lacking from the previous two games, and something which every other Metroidvania title would adopt in increasingly innovative forms from then on. Few side scrollers at the time encouraged exploration to the extent that this game did, and it was a welcome breath of fresh air for those who got the chance to play it back in the day. 

 

Controls – 8/10

The game’s control scheme, however, isn’t perfect. Whilst most Super NES games used the Y and B buttons for attack for primary movement and combat controls, this game uses the X and A buttons for that purpose, and among Super NES fans, this will have caused some confusion for players back when it was released, and can still potentially cause confusion for modern-day players looking to play it for the first time, as indeed I found, since I wasn’t introduced to this game back when it was released. Kind of like Metroid Prime, it can take a bit of time for players to get used to initially. What the developers did add in terms of controls, however, was the facility to shoot diagonally, which again, was sorely lacking from the original games, and furthermore included in the re-release of the first; Metroid: Zero Mission for the Game Buy Advance.

 

Lifespan – 7/10

A thorough playthrough of the game can take an average of around 4 hours, which is about an exceptionally long amount of time for a game to have lasted back in the days of the Super NES. Although the game can be completed within half an hour (indeed, as this title has become particularly popular among speedrunners), it’s not a game that’s designed to be rushed through, and whilst it may sound like a paltry amount of time for a game to last compared to what gamers are used to these days, it was relatively unheard of at the time and most fans of the game have ended up playing it multiple times throughout the years anyway. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

Taking place in the latter stages of the Metroid timeline, the alien lifeform (the Metroid) that bounty hunter Samus Aran had recovered from planet SR388 at the end of Metroid 2: Return of Samus, had been delivered to a research facility by her for further study. But shortly thereafter, the space station is attacked by the leader of the Space Pirates, Ridley, who then captures the Metroid specimen and takes it to the nearby planet Zebes, and Samus is in pursuit of him. The game is also a lot more cinematic than games of the previous generation; the game’s opening cutscene, in particular, has become an iconic moment in Super NES history. It’s also among one of the earliest examples of how gameplay sequences can be used to build up tension within the confines of the story, as there are sequences whereby Samus must escape from certain places within a designated time limit before it explodes. 

 

Originality – 10/10

There is no understating how unique and influential this game was back in the day. Any game from which an entire genre is created stands out as being among the most influential of all time. Doom gave birth to the first-person shooting genre, Rogue paved the way for the Roguelike genre and Super Metroid was the primary pioneer of the Metroidvania genre; even Castlevania: Symphony of the Night adopted several gameplay elements that this game had first. 

 

Happii

In summation, as well as being one of the most influential video games of all time, Super Metroid also stands out as one of the best titles on the Super NES and is an experience that still holds up and one that I would highly recommend. Regardless of the issues, I may have had with the controls, the immersive gameplay, wonderfully rendered graphics, and engrossing story more than make up for it. 

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Q&A With Parhelion Rift

Once again on the lookout for new upcoming games, I came across yet another awesome-looking indie Metroidvania title currently under development. Twofold Tales, developed by indie outfit Parhelion rift based in Vienna, Austria, is a Metroidvania heavy on combat and exploration, as well as incorporating a strong RPG element in the form of character building and learning new abilities along the way. The story involves the main character named Pars, as she embarks on a journey across an entity known as the Iceberg in order to uncover the mysteries that are buried within. With a desire to learn more about the game, I got in touch with Michael and Evelyn, the couple currently working on the game, to ask a few questions I had about it in this early stage of development, to learn more about what can be expected from the finished title. Here’s what Michael and Evelyn had to say about Twofold Tales:

 

What were the influences behind Twofold Tales?

Michael: It probably all started when I played The Battle Of Olympus on the NES in 1991. From a gameplay perspective, we were mostly influenced by classic 2D Metroid games and Axiom Verge. One of our game-defining skills was inspired by an episode of Rick and Morty, called A Rickle in Time.

Evelyn: Aesthetically it’s difficult to pinpoint a single source of influence. We love hand-drawn animations like the movies The Secret of Kells, Song Of the Sea, Ghibli movies, but are also very fond of the Art Nouveau art style like Alphonse Mucha, I think it’s kind of a marriage between both meeting on an arctic island.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

Evelyn: It has been an interesting and challenging learning process so far, as developers and as a couple. In the beginning, we were only able to work on our game in the evenings after our day jobs. Also, it’s a learning process in itself how to work together with your partner, especially when you’re living together and the line between private life and job is blurring. It can be quite daunting sometimes, I have to admit, but on the other hand, it’s the most fantastic thing in the world to be so lucky to create something together with an excellent partner who understands you so well like no one else.

Michael: Currently, we’re fortunate to have personal savings to sustain ourselves for the near future and to channel our whole energy into developing Twofold Tales and raising our baby daughter who was born during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when there are sometimes tough stretches, we love how liberating it is to have total creative freedom in designing the game we want to make and to be in the driver’s seat.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

Michael: We’re still in the middle of the development process, with no fixed date for the final release. A public alpha demo that includes the entire first area is planned for summer 2021 together with a Kickstarter campaign and we’re really excited to be able to get some additional gameplay feedback, to be able to further improve Twofold Tales.

Evelyn: Most of the underlying systems for the game are finished, the game mechanics are set, the whole world is playable in development mode. What remains is creating a lot of artwork.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Michael: As with most Metroidvanias, certain parts of the world will be ability-gated. It was exciting to create branching exploration points where depending on what you discover, different areas open up to you first and you often can decide where you want to go next. For most of the game, we want to offer a very non-linear experience where players can explore the world very openly and arrive at different points of the game via a different route and with a different set of main upgrades. All areas had to be balanced around which abilities you might or might not have at that point.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Michael: While Unity generally was good to prototype and develop in, we were quite unhappy with the physics system for certain aspects of the game, for example for player and enemy movement – especially with high-speed projectiles. We replaced that with a raycasting solution to make this aspect of the game feel more responsive and accurate. The same goes for rope physics, where the hinge- and distance-joints just didn’t look satisfying, so we switched over to Verlet integration.

Evelyn: Also as we’re only a two-person and three-cats team, there is quite a big workload we have to handle ourselves. Developing, creating graphics and audio, writing updates for social media. It sometimes feels a bit overwhelming, but it’s also very exciting and we’ve learned a lot along the way.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

Evelyn: We have only started to release information about the game last month and so far we have received very positive reactions to the aesthetics of our game. It’s exciting and encouraging to see what people think of it. Also mostly you’re living inside your head when you’re developing a game and to correct that possible tunnel view, it’s very helpful to get feedback.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

Evelyn: Our launch platform will be PC, followed by Linux and probably Mac. We would love to port it for the Nintendo Switch. We actually got quite fond of the Switch mockup screens we made for ourselves.

 

What were the team’s prior developmental experiences before the formation of Parhelion Rift?

Michael: We both studied media informatics and in fact, this was also when we first met each other. Afterward, we both worked as full-time developers in medium-sized companies, creating desktop and mobile applications for telecommunication- and internet-service-providers.

 

Have there been any lessons brought into the development of Two Tales taken from the development of Cats Who Stare At Ghosts?

Evelyn: When we developed Cats Who Stare At Ghosts, we used the libGDX framework for development. It’s fine to do as much as possible yourself, but once you meet a comfortable game engine like Unity that takes over a lot of tasks, you never want to go back.

 

As a cat lover myself, I have to ask will there be cats in Twofold Tales as well?

Michael: There are a lot of secrets hidden in our iceberg, some of them fluffy 😉

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Michael: As we’re more gamers and programmers than artists ourselves, we’ve re-iterated over certain parts of the graphics and animations several times already and will continue to do so.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Michael: At the moment, I actually like the freedom of not having to work for another company or being limited by an existing franchise.

Evelyn: I would so love to work on a Zelda title, especially if it follows in the footsteps of Ocarina of Time.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Michael: Do what you really want to do, not what others deem good or what society thinks you should do. This does not mean that you should ignore feedback, feedback is extremely important and vital during the entire development process and other people spot flaws way better than you ever could. However, in the end, make it your game, the game that you would love to play, but hasn’t been invented yet – make it for yourself.

Evelyn: Start today! Don’t wait for that big idea, but start with something small and just keep learning.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

You can follow us on social media, we love to share the progress of our game and chat.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/parhelionrift

Twitter: www.twitter.com/parhelionrift

Facebook: www.facebook.com/parhelionrift

And there is also our website www.parhelionrift.com

Feel free to get in touch with us! 🙂

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you very much ScouseGamer for the opportunity to give others insights into our game and a huge thank you to everyone interested in Twofold Tales. Your kind words of encouragement and comments mean the world to us and keep us going.

 

I’d also like to thank Michael and Evelyn for their unique insight into what players can expect to see from their game upon release, and also to congratulate the couple on the birth of their baby girl. Twofold Tales holds promise as an extremely standout Metroidvania title with a new and wonderfully cohesive concept, and I’m very much looking forward to what the final game has to offer. In the meantime, anyone wanting to keep up with Michael and Evelyn as development unfolds can do so by following their various social media pages and visiting their website, but I hope you guys enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed working with Michael and Evelyn.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights – First Impressions

Whilst scouting out new developers on Twitter, I came across another indie Metroidvania game in development that caught my eye and decided to get into contact with the team involved about further coverage. Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is a Metroidvania game influenced by a plethora of different titles from what I could deduce at first glance, including Dark Souls, Castlevania, and Shadow of the Colossus. I was captivated by this game after watching the trailer, and even more so after playing merely the first ten minutes. Developed by Binary Haze Interactive based in Tokyo, and released on Steam Early Access later last month to an overwhelmingly positive response from players, it shows a great deal of promise in almost every aspect and I’m very much looking forward to playing the full title. Here is a full account of my first impressions of the game. 

 

Graphics

The game is set in a lost kingdom which the player must explore and uncover the mystery of as the game progresses. The kingdom is a desolate abandoned place with a strong sense of melancholy, but at the same time, perpetuating a strong sense of eloquence and beauty. The orchestral, primarily piano-based soundtrack does well to add to that feeling. Even during boss fights, the music sounds very sorrowful in stark contrast to what are some particularly intense combat sequences. Gothic architecture and Japanese landscape are at the center of the design of the in-game world, which gives it a prominent feel of games such as Okami and Blasphemous. 

 

Gameplay

The game is a 2D open-world Metroidvania title heavy on combat, puzzle-solving, and item collecting. There is a massive amount of collectibles to attain throughout the game and even new abilities to learn as well as the facility to find and upgrade weapons. Already I can tell this title has a lot more to offer than many of the other story-driven indie games I’ve played, including Journey, The Swapper, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. When a game is heavy on story, like Ender Lilies is set to be, there’s always a risk of the story taking precedence over the gameplay; but even after having played around twenty minutes of this title, I can already deduce that this won’t be the case.

 

Controls

By proxy, I’ve also found no issues with the controls, even in this stage of development. Combat is incredibly fluent, as what is required in a game like this that has a number of particularly challenging boss fights. It plays out very much like Blasphemous in the respect that enemies and bosses deal an incredible amount of damage and that players have to take to strategizing throughout to stay alive. There is a great deal of skill required from players to progress through this game and the control scheme allows for players to do so without any unnecessary compilations from what I can surmise at this point in development. 

 

 

Lifespan

With so many collectibles, weapons, and secret areas to discover across the game’s open world, the likelihood is that this game can potentially make for an experience that will last 20 hours minimum; maybe even longer. It would depend on what more may be added later on in development to determine exactly how long it can be made to last, but it certainly has the potential to beat out a lot of the competition across the indie scene if it can be made to last a substantial amount of time. There have been many indie Metroidvania games that have come and gone that have amazed me in terms of gameplay but lacked in lifespan such as Dust: An Elysian Tail and Ori & the Blind Forest. But with the promise of so many things to do within Ender Lilies, the prospect of this game lasting a long time are indeed there. 

 

Storyline

The story follows a young girl named Lily, who wakes up to find an unknown guardian specter tasked with protecting her, and who sets out on a journey to recover her own memory, as well as uncovering the past history of this lost kingdom. The reason why this game reminds me of Shadow of the Colossus is because of the direction in which the story seems to be steering towards, involving a series of tragic realizations with a potentially bittersweet outcome. Even at the same points, the spirits of the defeated bosses join Lily at her side as and when the player defeats them; similar to how the spirits of the colossi gather to stand over Wander’s body as he returns to the shrine of worship after he defeats each of them. The game’s story has the potential to make as much of an impact on the player as the gameplay has the potential to satisfy them; to a great extent. 

 

Originality

With a clear oversaturation of Metroidvania titles continuing to seep into the community of indie games development, it had inevitably become harder and harder to make one in the particular title stand out among so many others. But with Ender Lilies’ approach to gameplay, conceptual design, and story arc, it does have the potential to stand out among most others. There is a strong similarity between this game and Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, but whether or not Ender Lilies ends up bearing too close a resemblance to the former will depend on how development progresses before its full release.

 

Overall, I was extremely impressed with what Ender Lilies has to offer gamers at this stage in development. It has great potential to offer gamers more than simply being another combat-orientated Metroidvania game and it will be very interesting to see how the final product plays out compared to where Binary Haze is with it at this point in time.

Scouse Gamer 88 Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver Header

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (PC, PlayStation & Dreamcast)

Developer(s) – Crystal Dynamics & Rixxes Software

Publisher(s) – Eidos Interactive

Director – Amy Hennig

Producer(s) – Amy Hennig, Andrew Bennett & Rosaura Sandoval

PEGI – 16

 

Developed and released by Crystal Dynamics following a lengthy legal battle with original creators of the Legacy of Kain series, Silicon Knights, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, like Blood Omen, was also met wide widespread critical acclaim in what was considered an ideal time, as it coincided with the release of several horror films, such as The Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project. It went on to be considered the best game in the series by most critics, and whilst I don’t agree with that assessment, (by far I think the best game in the series is Soul Reaver 2), the original Soul Reaver is still to me, a classic of the fifth generation and still an absolute joy to play through.

 

Graphics – 7/10

Soul Reaver easily has one the darkest approaches taken to conceptual design out of most games I’ve played throughout my lifetime. It takes the players back into the fictional dark fantasy land of Nosgoth, but in a post-apocalyptic state. There are new locations added to Nosgoth’s landscape, as well as the ruins of some of the previous locations found in Blood Omen, such as The Pillars of Nosgoth and Nupraptor’s Retreat. It also has the player alternating between the underworld and the physical world in order to gain access to new areas, or areas otherwise impassable in the opposite. Gamers may argue that in terms of the technical aspect of the game, it hasn’t aged particularly well, and with that, I would agree to a certain extent, but the conceptual design more than makes up for that in my opinion. For the best version of the game, I would recommend the Dreamcast port, which runs at 60 frames per second and has the most polish to it. The Dreamcast version actually makes it look far more like a sixth-generation game than a fifth.  Both planes of existence within the game are as dark as the other, with a wonderfully horrifying soundtrack to accompany the game. 

 

Gameplay – 7.5/10

Somewhat similar to Blood Omen, Soul Reaver plays out more like a 3D platformer than a top-down RPG, but combat is still at the heart of the game’s design, with players having to subdue abominable enemies throughout and being able to learn new abilities and increase their health and magic capacities to use these abilities more efficiently and frequently. Although the main combat system is not as diverse as Blood Omen, it does make up for that by challenging players to strategize in accordance with their surroundings, as the enemies are only killed in a handful of specific ways, at least in the physical world. The boss fights, though fewer, are also far more creative than in Blood Omen; again requiring specific actions to take in order to best each one. Like in Blood Omen, there is also a fast travel system and a plethora of hidden items and abilities to discover along the way.

 

Controls – 10/10

Even when 3D gaming was pretty much in its infancy during the fifth generation, there were some games like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon that handled their control schemes extremely fluently; Soul Reaver is one such example; there are no issues with the controls whilst playing with a joypad, and it also handles stealth combat in a very fluent manner as well, which at the time, was a relatively new concept. 

One thing I would advise, however, is this; avoid the Steam version like the plague. Controller support is not officially part of it with players having to rely on keyboard commands, and keyboard mapping doesn’t currently work for some unknown reason. The same also goes for every other Legacy of Kain game ported to Steam. No one at Valve, Square Enix, or Crystal Dynamics has ever seen fit to rectify this, and it’s a great shame. Again, the best way to play this game is on the Dreamcast; in every respect.

 

Lifespan – 7/10

The game can be made to last for a total of around 25 hours, which was relatively impressive at the time. The one thing I would say is that, although there are a good few collectibles to obtain throughout the game, the game’s world is still a bit too bare for how big it is, and more could have been added to it, in turn, add to the substance of the game. Nevertheless, there is enough in it to make it last for a fairly impressive amount of time. 

 

Storyline – 10/10

The story continues over 100 years following the events of Blood Omen. Having condemned Nosgoth to an eternity of decay by refusing the sacrifice of his own life, Kain has since established his own vampiric empire out of his own contempt for humanity. However, things change after his first-born lieutenant, Raziel, surpasses Kain in terms of vampiric evolution by growing a pair of wings. In anger, Kain tears off Raziel’s wings and condemns him to death by throwing him into The Lake of the Dead. Burnt by the acidic touch of the lake’s waters, Raziel is then resurrected by a god-like entity, known only as The Elder God, as a wraith, endowed with the hunger for souls and other supernatural abilities, unlike any vampire. Raziel then resolves to destroy Kain and his vampiric brothers and consume their souls returning them to the wheel of fate. 

Like Blood Omen, the story of this game, as well as the dialogue were masterfully executed. The voice acting of Simon Templeman, Michael Bell, and Tony Jay help to truly bring this title to life in a story centered around the nature of death and immortality and the price of power. To me, The Legacy of Kain easily has the best story ever told in all of gaming, and it’s that more impressive considering how much of a strong note of finality there is to the original Blood Omen. To have picked up where Blood Omen left off and evolved the series into what it would become in terms of story, was truly an impressive feat of video game narrative and helped to establish Amy Hennig as one of the greatest storytellers in the medium, as she would later go on to establish the stories of Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed.

 

Originality – 9/10

In terms of gameplay, as well as the story, it’s also impressive to think of how the developers took the concept of Blood Omen, made something drastically different from the former, and make work and work well, is also extremely impressive; especially given how young the concept of 3D gaming was at the time and how risky it would have inevitably been to make that transition. Some people have even cited this as an early example of a 3D Metroidvania, predating Metroid Prime by a full three years, which although I don’t think you can consider it a 3D Metroidvania, as it plays out more like a 3D platformer than anything, it’s still interesting to think about, and it all still works to separate this title from most not only released at the time, but most games released since.

 

Happii

Overall, the original Soul Reaver remains a classic to this day, and if anyone can pick up a copy of it on either the original PlayStation or the Dreamcast, I’d highly recommend it. It’s a game with terrific combat, a plethora of gameplay variety, additional sidequests, and a level of storytelling, which in my opinion, has never been topped within the medium of gaming since. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Blasphemous Header

Blasphemous (PC, PlayStation 4, Switch & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – The Game Kitchen

Publisher(s) – Team 17

PEGI – 16

 

Released back in 2019 to universal acclaim after an immensely successful Kickstarter campaign, Blasphemous is a Metroidvania title influenced by games such as Dark Souls and Resident Evil 4 combining wonderfully rendered visuals with intense and challenging combat sequences and precise platforming. After having gotten the chance to play this game myself, I was captivated from start to finish; it is most definitely one of the best Metroidvania titles released throughout the eighth generation of gaming, if not one of the best games in general released throughout the time. 

 

Graphics – 9/10

The game is set in the harsh and mostly dangerously desolate landscape of Cvstodia, which was inspired by religious art composed by classic Spanish artists such as Francisco Goya and Jusepe de Ribera. The developers also drew further inspiration from the religious iconography of their hometown of Seville, Spain with gothic architecture and the religious attire associated with it. 

The world of Cvstodia is also beautifully rendered in 16-bit pixel art reminiscent of titles of the fourth generation of gaming. The world of Cvstodia is as wonderfully captivating as it is dark and gritty; it features some of the best examples of video game conceptual design I’ve seen for some time. Everything from the landscape to the character design attests to how much of a labor of love this game truly is. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

Playing out like a traditional Metroidvania title, the game is heavy on combat and character development as well as requiring precise and clever platforming to progress. Players must both subdue hordes of enemies and uncover new areas within by acquiring new abilities and improving their character’s stats. Two different endings are available to unlock depending on what items the player has acquired and how they are used or modified. 

Another particularly standout feature in this game, however, is the boss fights, which again give testament to the quality of the game’s conceptual design; bosses such as Ten Piedad, The Last Son of the Miracle, Our Lady of the Charred Visage, and my personal favorite, Exposito the Scion of Abjuration. The game is every bit as challenging as the titles it took influence from, but at the same time not inaccessible. It’s also an extremely satisfying experience to revisit locations far stronger than before with the acquiring of new abilities and more health and magic, but also equally as satisfying to defeat each boss. It does exceptionally well to make the player feel like this is their journey along with the player character, The Penitent One. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s controls are precise, responsive, and present the player with no necessary issues, which is desperately needed in a game like this. There’s nothing worse than when a developer tries to challenge a player with a tough game, and the controls aren’t right, like what I found with the original Mega Man. Fortunately, however, this issue is nonexistent in Blasphemous.

 

Lifespan – 7.5/10

To complete the game to 100%, along with the newly released free DLC package The Stir of Dawn, will take roughly 30 hours, which for a Metroidvania game is particularly impressive. It could possibly be made to last longer with the potential introduction of new DLC released somewhere down the lines (here’s hoping), but regardless, this game will have players investing in it for a particularly long time to come. There are plenty of collectibles to scout for and abilities to require to make Blasphemous last more than a meaningful amount of hours. 

 

Storyline – 9/10

The story of Blasphemous follows a mute lone soldier known only as The Penitent One, who is the sole survivor of an order known as The Brotherhood of the Silent Sorrow. The Penitent One embarks on a pilgrimage in the name of The Miracle, a god-like supernatural force that governs the land of Cvstodia and manifests itself in various twisted ways in the name of either mercy or punishment. 

The Penitent One seeks a holy relic named the Cradle of Affliction and is instructed by a narrator of the Miracle named Deogracias to carry out the three humiliations to gain access to the location where the Cradle of Affliction is housed. 

The game’s story is expertly structured and masterfully written with full voice acting and a plethora of lore and backstory to unearth throughout Cvstodia. It raises questions about the nature of godhood and everlasting life in a world where the desire for punishment or forgiveness comes at a heavy cost and what impact religious institutions can have on the world. Again, it was yet another element to this game that excited me from beginning to end. 

 

Originality – 9/10

Taking into account everything about this title, from its conceptual design to its combat system to its gripping story, it is definitely one of the most original titles I’ve ever played. In a gaming generation that has been arguably over-saturated with Metroidvania titles in recent years, it would have taken something particularly special to make another one stand out among so many others; but this game does that flawlessly; it tackles themes, gameplay mechanics and graphical features that have rarely been seen in gaming before and will go on to influence a plethora of games for years to come. 

 

Happii

In summary, Blasphemous is definitely one of the best games of the eighth generation. The influx of indie games over the last seven years has made this generation one of the most exciting in the history of gaming, but this title will be one that gamers will still be playing long after, with its wonderfully rendered visuals, intense combat, and boss fights, and a story that players will be talking about for many years after its release. 

Score

52.5/60

8.5/10 (Great)

Q&A With Max Indie Game

The first full week of 2021 has seen an influx of new Kickstarter projects underway; many of which have been successfully funded even at this early stage. Another project on the platform that I came across this week is another Metroidvania title to add to the explosion in popularity of the genre garnished within the last gaming generation. Ancient Tree, under development by a pixel artist from Singapore operating under the pseudonym Max Indie Game, is a traditional Metroidvania title boasting intense combat, a vast 2D open world to explore complete with mysterious ruins and lush greenery (somewhat similar to the conceptual design of Shadow of the Colossus), and a foray of hidden combat abilities to unlock making the player character stronger over time. Wanting to know more about this project, I got in touch with Max and asked a question about the game in its early stages of development. Here’s what Max Indie Game had to say about Ancient Tree.

What were the influences behind your game?

Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

What has the developmental process been like?

Seems as I work on this project solo, I do not have a solid process like a big company. I usually take notes or sketch down my idea in a sketchbook before I implement pixel art using Aseprite and Unity. Every time I’ve implemented something on Unity, I will test it to catch bugs, fix them, and continue.

You mentioned on your Kickstarter page that your previous experience with the software was not video game-related. What made you want to go into gaming?

Ever since I was young I’ve always loved to play video games, I have played many JRPG games up to now. I always had a dream to develop my own game someday during my school time.

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

Currently, the development for stage 1 is still in progress and is not near finish yet. There are about 7 stages in the game and there’s still a way to go before it’s finished. Apart from that I also have a day job and family.

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Having fun with writing code, drawing pixel art, learning, and trying something new.

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Creating pixel art and animation before I start creating it in Aseprite, I will sketch down my idea first. As you can see the process of creating assets requires time and patience but is worth it and I’m happy with my outcome. Solving tricky bugs takes some time to research or think about a solution but I feel accomplished when I’ve solved the issue.

You also mention on your page you have ideas for a lot of new features to be implemented. Can you share anything about that?

Here are some ideas that I have in mind (although it is not a new concept or idea when many games already have it). For example. storyline, inventory, Map, hidden skill.

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

Currently, My plan is to bring it to Steam and Nintendo Switch.

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Not considering any as of now, as currently I just work as a solo indie dev.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Never give up on your dream, one day we can make it.

Where on the Internet can people find you?

– Twitter: https://twitter.com/maxindiegame

– Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/user/maxindiegame

– Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maxindiegame/

– FacebooK: https://www.facebook.com/maxindiegame

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Max for taking the time out to talk about Ancient Tree and to give gamers a better idea of what to expect from the final build. Ancient Tree is currently on Kickstarter, so if anyone reading thinks they may want to back Max’s project, the link is below:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/724290214/ancient-tree

Until the project is successfully back, I hope you guys are looking forward to Ancient Tree, and that I hope you enjoyed learning about the game from Max as much as I did talking to him.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Q&A With Scumhead

For my first Q&A of 2021, I reached out to Arizona-based developer and comic writer Scumhead regarding his newly posted and successfully backed Kickstarter projected entitled Vomitoreum. Vomitroeum is a Metroidvania-style first-person shooter, similar to Metroid Prime, but is heavily influenced by artists such as Zdzisław Beksiński and Dariusz Zawadzki, as well as what has been the mainstay of Scumhead’s developmental portfolio, eldritch horror; the subject has been a staple in a mast majority of Scumhead’s work such as his comic Blackseed and previously developed games like Orogenesis and the two games in the Shrine series. Wanting to find out more about this fascinatingly surreal-looking title, I asked Scumhead a few questions about his upcoming game and what players can expect to see of the finished article. Here’s what Scumhead had to say about Vomitoreum:

What were the influences behind your game? 

Well, of course, there’s Metroid. Metroid Prime to be specific, as there is a huge lack of first-person Metroidvania games that take advantage of 3D space. Dark Souls would be another one since It’s my favorite game- taking inspirations less from the difficulty and more from the interconnectedness of the world and atmosphere. For artistic inspiration, the main artist I’m pulling from is Zdzisław Beksiński and Dariusz Zawadzki. Other than that, my inspirations come from all over the place. 

What has the developmental process been like? 

Challenging. We’re breaking GZdoom and doing things it’s not really meant to be doing, and somehow it’s functional. The art side of things has been an absolute blast, but it’s been a challenge to get this to flow in the engine. 

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

The Demo is roughly 1/8th of the final game, unpolished of course. It took about 3 months of work to get everything to where we are now, but it’ll go faster once we build out the project’s skeleton. Just getting mechanics to work and feel good so I can get back to workin’ on the good stuff is top priority right now. 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development? 

For me, it’s been the visual presentation. Adapting Beksinski and Zawadzki’s artwork into a playable format has been a great challenge, as well as using their styles as a starting point to create my own work. However, the most exciting part was realizing that a dream project like this was actually possible in the engine. 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development? 

Game feel. The visuals are all there, it’s just the gameplay that has been a big challenge. It’s still a work in progress, but making the game feel good to play has been tough. 

How rewarding has it been already seeing this game develop into what it is now? 

Very rewarding, it’s been a dream project for me since I was a young teenager. Finally being able to create it has been wonderful. How well has the game been received so far? Mostly positive, the most valuable stuff is the bug reports. I have a feeling the final game will be much more positively received because all of the elements will be in place for a complete experience. 

Have there been any early ideas considered for inclusion that have since been scrapped or reworked in? 

I generally lay out the entirety of my games before jumping fully into them, so other than a few sprites and models, not much has been cut. Mostly they were just improved from their base ideas. 

You posted on Twitter recently that pitfalls in the game are now designed to send players back to their original position to relieve frustration, and rightly so in my opinion. But how challenging are you looking to make this game for players? 

I have a really hard time with balance. It’s why playtesting will be so important. I find myself making encounters too easy and platforming sections too hard. Fixed the platforming part but making encounters a challenge without being terribly frustrating is going to be a big learning experience for me. 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to? 

Windows, Linux, and hopefully Mac. 

If you had the chance to work with any mainstream developer of your choice, who would it be, and why? 

I’m not sure I’d take the chance. I think the best thing about this project is that it’s a bunch of indie types coming together to make a really disgusting game. I worry that a mainstream studio would get in the way of that.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Make stuff. You can try and improve by yourself for eternity, but it’s honestly better to just learn as you go along. People can see the improvements you make from title to title, and you will have a big catalog of stuff people can play and that you can look back on. Getting started is the hard part, but if you love game development it won’t matter how good or bad your projects are. 

Where on the Internet can people find you? 

Mainly on Twitter. 

https://twitter.com/Scumhead1 

They can also find me on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXsWVi9TFb5BQ0SDdquGjZw 

They can explore my game catalog here: 

https://www.goresoft.com/ 

Do you have anything else to add? 

This project would be nowhere without the help of my team, please show them some love. Here’s their twitter @’s 

Programmer: Mengo @Mengo329 

Art and Animation Help: Batandy @Batandy_ 

Music: Immorpher @immorpher64 & Primeval @PRIMEVAL

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Scumhead for taking the time out to talk to me regarding this ambitious-looking title. Vomitroeum, under its wonderfully disturbing exterior, looks like it will have a lot to offer gamers upon release and I’m very much looking forward to what the final build of the game has to offer. You can also check out Scumhead’s Patreon page here if you’d like to become a patron of his:

https://www.patreon.com/scumhead

You can also find the link to Vomitoreum’s Kickstarter page below if you’d like to support the project:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/scumhead/vomitoreum

The link below is for scumhead’s itch.io page, which has a playable demo of the game in its current build:

https://scumhead.itch.io/vomitoreum

 

In the meantime, I’d like to congratulate Scumhead on the successful funding of his Kickstarter campaign and to wish him the best of luck with Vomitoreum upon release.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Scouse Gamer 88 Momodora Header

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Switch)

Developer(s) – Bombservice

Publisher(s) – Playism 

PEGI – 7

 

Developed by Brazilian indie outlet Bombservice Games and released on multiple platforms since 2016, Reverie Under the Moonlight is the fourth title in the relatively obscure Momodora series of Metroidvanias. Since the release of the third and fourth titles on Steam, the series began to gain much more momentum after being confined to the itch.io platform and it’s not hard to see why. I was taken aback by just how good this game is and it has made me want to try out the rest of the series; out of all the Metroidvania games I’ve played, this is one like no other. 

 

Graphics – 9/10

Making use of traditional 8-BIT graphics and inspired by the medium of Japanese anime, the game’s conceptual design is without a doubt its most wonderful and unique feature. It plays host to a number of unusual creatures scattered across the in-game world and takes place over a contrast of beautiful and horrifying locations, but it’s the latter that takes precedent. The amount of wonderfully dark and atmospheric locations in this game certainly makes it one of the grittiest Metroidvania games I’ve ever played; most definitely the scariest. Even scarier than any game in the Castlevania series by some distance. The game’s accompanying soundtrack also adds to the already wonderfully grim atmosphere of this title. Unlike most 8-BIT games, it makes no use of chiptune and relies heavily on traditional orchestral music and the extremely effective use of realistic background sound effects such as running water. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

The game plays out like a standard Metroidvania experience, with players having to discover new abilities to access different areas throughout and uncover hidden secrets to enhance the strength of the player character Kaho. It’s also quite heavily combat-orientated through combat options are slightly more limited compared to other games in the genre. The difficulty of the boss fights also ranges from easy to hard throughout, but the basic structure of each boss fight is very well handled, and again, some make for very memorable moments within the entire genre. There are also two different endings to unlock depending on the actions of the player, similar to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It starts out as fairly challenging, but as the player gains new abilities, the difficulty decreases considerably; but better for it to play out like that than having it be too inaccessible. It’s an enjoyable gaming experience with a lot to uncover throughout.

 

Controls – 10/10

Especially as the developers had had extensive experience in developing for this series before the fourth installment, there are no issues with the controls whatsoever. There’s not a great deal you could call unique about the game’s control scheme since it plays out typical of a Metroidvania game, but again, better to do that than take unnecessary risks. The shape-shifting mechanic was quite enjoyable for me, as Kaho gains the ability to turn into a cat in order to reach narrow passageways; I love cats, so it worked for me on a personal level. 

 

Lifespan – 4/10

The aspect which the fourth Momodora game didn’t work so well for me, however, was how short the game lasts. To complete it, even to 100%, can be done within 4 hours, and for a Metroidvania game, that’s criminally short. Although the developers would have inevitably been operating on a budget whilst making this game, I’ve played and reviewed longer Metroidvanias made by other indie developers with them having been their first title, and with graphics comparable to this on the technical level. A game as wonderfully unique as this one deserved to last considerably longer in my opinion. 

 

Storyline – 8/10

The story of the game involves a young priestess named Kaho hailing from the village of Lun, who has come to Karst City seeking out a queen in order to request protection for her home village, But things take a dark turn for the worst as Kaho ventures across the world to discover what has happened to Karst City and it’s queen. Throughout the game, players will come across a number of tortured characters with much depth to them, which is another reason why this game deserved to last longer; if it did, there would’ve been far more time to further develop on these individual characters and elaborate on their stories and fates; even the boss characters have layers to them, which could’ve been explored more. Although the game’s end boss is obviously the last trial the player must undertake, to me, the last boss isn’t even the most compelling villain; by far, that honor would go to Lubella, the witch of decay. The concept art for the game doesn’t really do her character justice, as she’s portrayed as being a size proportionate to every other character. But in the game, she’s a giant with a lot of power, which makes her much more menacing; she most definitely steals the show as the game’s best villain. 

 

Originality – 9/10

As I said before, the game’s conceptual design makes this title much different from any other Metroidvania game I’ve played; even amongst the many other indie Metroidvanias, I’ve played such as the Ori games, the Alwa games, Dust: an Elysian Tail, and Cathedral. The series’ mythology has been expanded upon with the original trilogy before this, so this fourth title does make me want to explore the series in much more depth. But this is my first experience with this series, and I was taken aback by just how unique a game this was. 

 

Happii

Overall, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is certainly worth at least one playthrough. I was disappointed with how short a time it lasts and I felt it could have easily been made to last far longer than what it does, but for the time it does last, it’s an enjoyable game with a  wonderfully morbid atmosphere and a lot of emotionally charged moments that players will not soon forget. 

Score

48/60

8/10 (Verdict)