It’s difficult to not show bias when it comes to playing any kind of game. When it comes to sequels, you’ve either set the bar high, or had no optimism for it depending on your experiences with the previous titles. If it’s similar to another style of game, you expect your gameplay to be similar to that. How many of us are guilty of saying, “GTA-style sandbox” or “Dark Souls trial and error”? Luckily, I didn’t have that coloured thinking when I started playing Moonfall, because I’d never heard of it.
So when I say that it’s terrible, that’s all its own doing. The humane part of me doesn’t want to demolish someone’s piece of work that I’m sure people put a lot of time into it. However, the bit of me that is required to be critical, makes me think how much time went into this, and where the fun is meant to be?
Moonfall looks like a Golden Axe side scroller, made as a flash game for Newgrounds. Visually, everything is flat in its 2D presentation. Now, I realise that sounds redundant, but the art style is reminiscent of early South Park episodes: flat, badly animated paper figures with a singular shadow line behind them. Character movement is blocky and ungainly, regardless of moving on the horizontal or vertical plain. Level design is equally flat and uninspired. There’s no real distinction between back and foreground, it’s all just one flat area. Imagine if someone had taken the board from Hero Quest, scanned it, used that as a backdrop and placed awkwardly animated characters over it.
You can also add combat to the awkward pile of shame this game is stacking up. To me, all through my years of gaming, from Altered Beast, Ghosts and Goblins to God of War and The Witcher, I’d always thought the golden rule of combat was “Hit them, don’t get hit back”. It seems someone at Fishcow didn’t get that memo. Keeping with the clunky movement notion, combat is less finesse and more attrition. You face an opponent. You swing your sword. He/they/it will swing theirs. You cannot move whilst you swing, neither can they. You can block, but then you can’t swing your sword. You can’t interrupt an enemy, nor can they to you. So you will take damage as you’re dealing it to them. All of this is in real time, mind. There was no other skill required than, pressing R2 constantly and keeping an eye on health, and that was every encounter.
I’m not taking joy is this brutal slaughter, by the way. As you can tell by my Dead Cells and Guacamelee! reviews, I’m a big fan of the ol’ 2D-inspired brawler. It’s just a shame that this one is so bland and unenjoyable. There’s even a story in there somewhere, but all I gleamed from the opening scrawl is about fallen Kings, successive heirs and people and beasties taking umbridge to it. I mean, I could write a summary of it, but as this review isn’t exactly glowing, I’d leave it to you to discover if you’re into your masochism and feel you need to punish yourself with this.
There was potential here. All the developer had to do was take a piece of paper, write “Why do people love Golden Axe?” in the middle and go from there. They even gave us couch co-op, three different character class and even some RPG-esque attribute/skill progression system. It’s just a shame that the end product is [literally] flat and uninspired. I can’t even say, “Yeah but the combat’s fun” or “The story is a masterpiece”.
Sorry, Fishcow. It pains me to do so considering my love for the genre, but I would avoid this like the plague in the story. I mean, there might be a plague but the story failed to keep my attention for long enough to notice.
Moonfall Ultimate is out now.
Publisher: Wales Interactive
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publishers. For our full review policy please go here.