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Moon Hunters (Switch) artwork

Moon Hunters (Switch) review

"Moon Hunters tells an expanding tale of two cults that you can enjoy discovering with friends time after time."

I wasn't sure how much I would like Moon Hunters when I first saw screenshots of the game, but now the verdict is in and here you have it: the game is pretty darn good. The load times could use some work--a lot of it--but otherwise I don't have any serious complaints.

In Moon Hunters, you play one of several heroes who belong to a tribe of people who worship the moon goddess. Unfortunately, your existence is challenged by another tribe of people (a cult, they're called) who worship the sun. Tensions are high between the two groups, and higher still when the moon doesn't appear following a traditional ceremony. Your journey, which at that point has just begun, will take you through numerous regions as you attempt to discover the cause of the moon's disappearance.

Moon Hunters (Switch) image

Remember the sun cult I mentioned? They have a champion, a man with strange armor who approaches you and advises you that in several days you will do battle and you will die. Then he wanders off, and you have time to prepare so that you can grow strong enough to defeat him on that fateful day. It's actually quite kind of him to give you that opportunity. Maybe he's not such a bad guy, after all.

Moon Hunters is an action-RPG, and you can play it either alone or with as many as three friends. I convinced two local friends to come over to my apartment and we ran through the game a couple of times together before I played it some more on my own. The game is clearly designed to facilitate multiple runs, and makes no secret about this. When you finish the campaign the first time, you'll unlock new characters and story elements, which you can use to experience the adventure in new ways on your next run. You can even start from a different portion of the map.

Moon Hunters (Switch) image

As you explore, you'll sometimes unlock permanent improvements in the form of ingredients that you can mix at camp to produce dishes that award your characters improved stats. Characters can improve traditional attributes such as strengths and maximum HP, but they can also gain superior leadership skills, faith and so forth. In addition to impacting your characters' performance in battle, these stats determine their ability to interact with certain characters and situations they may encounter in the field. At camp, you and any friends must choose which aspects of your character to improve, and random events may also ensue. In this manner, the game resembles actual life, and the unpredictable nature of the campaign's progression keeps things surprisingly entertaining and engaging, particularly if you're playing with a group of people who are into the whole experience.

Combat itself is fairly straightforward. Enemies usually rush you and will fall fairly quickly to your various manually and ranged attacks. Some foes are larger, or have armor that prevents a frontal assault from working well, but otherwise there aren't a lot of complications. As you journey, you can also find merchants who will sell you additional enhancements, so that your strikes do more damage or require less stamina, which limits the threat wildlife poses. Currency is uncommon enough that sometimes you'll have to make difficult choices about where to invest, but it's usually possible to produce a well-rounded warrior by journey's end.

Moon Hunters (Switch) image

The simplistic combat makes the game easy to pick up and play, most especially if you are adventuring with human allies. If one of you falls in combat and the others remain alive, they can revive you fairly quickly with half of your life restored. On the default setting, the game is easy enough that you shouldn't have to even worry about that option very often (or at all), but that doesn't prevent the adventure from resonating. Those who take the journey alone are in for a much more difficult time, depending on the character they choose. Though enemies aren't very smart, some of the armored ones can corner players and quickly burn through their meter. If a lone hero falls, that means a trip back to the camp without the opportunity to finish exploring a particular region, which can prove quite costly in the long run because it eats up a precious day.

Part of the game's appeal comes from the visual style the developers chose, which resembles a PlayStation-era outing. Visuals are crisp but pixelated, and the viewpoint is isometric. You can generally see everything you need to as you deal with mobs and explore the landscape in search of treasure and interactions, and the aesthetic--including some beautiful instrumental pieces of music--tends to be quite soothing even when things aren't going your way.

Moon Hunters (Switch) image

As I noted in this review's introduction, however, load times are a problem. Some of them last only 10 or 15 seconds, but the more common variety endure for the better part of a minute. They occur whenever you select a new destination from the world map, which happens several times throughout the campaign. One of the other players joked that it was time to make a sandwich, the third or fourth time we were exposed to the ridiculous delays. We also couldn't help but wonder what assets might be taking so long to come together in the background, because the game is plenty attractive but doesn't exactly seem to be relying on detailed textures or advanced AI routines to deliver its thrills. The randomly generated levels don't tend to be all that huge, either, so it's hard to guess what the problem might be.

In any event,Moon Hunters provides a frequently engaging and enjoyable experience that lasts through numerous playthroughs and should keep players busy for hours, provided they want to experience everything the developers have baked into the final product. Featuring a brief but intriguing narrative, fun character development and a pleasing aesthetic, the game is a great addition to the Nintendo Switch library and deserves your attention if you have any affection for the genre. I wouldn't be particularly surprised if my friends and I find ourselves returning for more adventures at a later date, just because...


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Staff review by Jason Venter (November 13, 2017)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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