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Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Switch) artwork

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Switch) review


"Reverie Under the Moonlight presents an intricately designed world filled with bosses and treacherous corridors, and lets players enjoy it all in fewer than a half-dozen hours."


A priestess arrives at the edge of a foreboding forest, armed only with a magical leaf. Her mission is to find the realm's queen and ask for her assistance, but as the noble heroine ventures deeper into the island, it quickly becomes clear she has stepped right into the middle of a nightmare. Towering trees give way to the all but abandoned ruins of a town, where the people live in obvious fear and keep to themselves as much as they can. Even the local monastery is no haven, and the queen's castle itself is shut off from the populace. Soon it is evident the source of this evil is the queen herself, but reaching her throne room will require bravery, determination, and a willingness to explore every nook and cranny in Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight.

The "Metroidvania" has become quite popular over the last decade or so, and it's easy to see why. Such games often fuse the sense of exploration found in games like Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night with the harrowing, action-oriented sequences for which the games in those franchises were once known. Genuinely rewarding adventures are often the result, because success means more than simply advancing to the next linear stage. It instead lets you access a new portion of the world you're slowly beginning to master, one that was formerly off-limits. Finally, you can see what waits on the other side of that suspicious gap or behind that locked door.

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Switch) image

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is definitely a game in that vein, but it does away with one of the the features you may have anticipated: a lengthy quest. Reaching the closing credits on the Normal difficulty likely won't require much more than five hours of playtime for a lot of players, even with the map fully cleared. Then when they have survived the final encounter, they can save over their current file and start fresh with a few tweaks in store. It's just as likely they'll set the controller down with a smile of satisfaction and look for thrills in some other game, though, because five hours feels just fine in this case.

As you might expect, the game begins with minimal challenge on offer. Players are walked through the available moves, based on their control scheme. The heroine can dodge to escape danger, swing her weapon, fire a ranged shot, use a special item (which usually forces her to stand still for a moment and may cause her to take damage if she doesn't wait for a good opening in a heated boss battle) and jump. She's also able to double jump and, later in the campaign, to air dodge. These skills will carry her through to the end of her quest, and they are augmented by abilities tied to various items. For the most part, everything feels quite intuitive, though you might find yourself firing a shot when you meant to air dash. That can be a bit of a problem if you're crossing a bed of lethal spikes at the time.

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Switch) image

Fortunately, the island layout is designed in such a way that players should rarely lose much progress even if they fumble hard. Bells dangle from poles all over the place, and those restore all health in addition to immediately removing temporary status ailments such as poison or curse. In general, players will find success by approaching Reverie Under the Moonlight the same way they might a more grueling adventure like Hollow Knight. The general strategy: head into a new area and find the nearest bell, then explore in each direction to find extensions to your life meter and the local boss. Demolish all the nasty beasties, gain a new skill that improves your mobility, then do it all over again.

Reverie Under the Moonlight will never be mistaken for a cutting-edge affair, because the visuals look like they would have been quite at home on the original PlayStation. All enemies are animated as much as necessary, though, so that you can study their patterns and figure out which attacks are likely coming next. The environments around you are often dark and mysterious, but they're nicely detailed in spite of that and the game never looks ugly even if it's not especially lush or intricate. The soundtrack is similarly competent, with the sort of stirring music one might expect to accompany an adventure of this nature.

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Switch) image

Beginning players have the option of an Easy mode, but going that route shouldn't prove necessary unless they really are new to platformers, as the in-game text advises. The Normal setting is sufficient to provide a challenge for most players with typical reflexes and experience with video games, and a few of the bosses are likely to require a few attempts before they fall. However, there's not much that feels overly punishing, especially since most bosses have smartly designed attack patterns that are fun to study and exploit. This is actually the fourth Momodora game to hit the market, after the series made its debut on PC in 2010, and it's clear developer rdein and crew know what they're doing at this point.

Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight isn't extremely ambitious. It doesn't do anything to put it at the head of the pack, and you're unlikely to still be thinking the campaign about days after you clear it. However, the game takes players on a journey through a carefully crafted world that is fun to explore, one full of magical items and creepy corridors and dynamic, sometimes quite challenging boss battles. Everything fits together just as it should and the sense of exploration is definitely in place even though the environment isn't massive. If you've already had your fun with the genre heavyweights, or if you're looking for a welcoming point of entry that also shouldn't devour too much of your spare time, you could hardly hope to do much better.

4/5

honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (January 12, 2019)

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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Masters posted January 14, 2019:

Glad to see you liked this one as well, Venter. You're right -- it does feel like a good entry point to the genre, and it's pretty rote, if stylish.
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honestgamer posted January 14, 2019:

Sometimes, a game that gets in and does what it needs to do without overstaying its welcome, even a game within a genre known for more expansive environments, is just what the doctor ordered. I looked over your review after posting mine (which I like a lot), and I'm totally okay with the fact that we're generally in accord. Thanks for reading!

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