The renaissance of the RPG genre in more of a retro fashion has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. This brings us to Moon Hunters by indie developers Kitfox Games, which first launched via Steam in 2016 and garnered somewhat of a comparison to the Diablo series, albeit a much more relaxed version. The game itself is a self proclaimed RPG mythology building game with what also seems to be the latest trend -procedurally generated levels. But does the moon shine bright? Or will you be left in an eclipse?
The premise to Moon Hunters starts off with your own tribe worshiping the moon. It is perceived that the moon itself contains spiritual power. However there are others that instead, worship the sun. When one night the moon fails to rise, the end of the world is threatened by the opposing sun-cult. You have no more than three in-game days to solve the moon mystery. Clearly some inspiration was taken from The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask. You will not only be tasked to discover what has happened to the moon, but stop the rise of the sun cult and all the demonic creatures that have since inhabited your once peaceful world.
Gameplay itself, takes place with an old-school top down view. And surprisingly, a run through can last no more than 1 – 2 hours. Don’t let that stop you reading on, as there’s method to the short lived madness.
As you start off with your chosen character, you’ll build a personality. Choose to be a jackass and the game will recognise this. To interact with certain NPCs, you may need to have more of a thoughtful, helping personality. The choices you make will directly affect the gameplay that is to unfold. However, with the short game time in mind, this game was specifically designed for multiple play-throughs. Reach the conclusion once and you can then start again. But all your choices carry over to your next run. And being procedurally generated, no run will ever be the same.
Your decisions in the game will ultimately determine how you will be remembered through constellations in the sky. And this can become more fun when you buddy up for co-op play. With decisions playing a large role in the story, it’s not impossible to disagree with your co-op partner which in turn, leads to more tense and interesting scenarios. If you have a higher charisma though, the decision will likely fall to that specific character.
There are four initial classes for you to choose from when you begin – from a druid, witch, oculist or spellbound. And as you would expect, they all bring differing styles of play. It is be no means a romp in the park. Playing solo can see too many instances of being swamped by hordes of enemies which ramps up the difficulty. Something that co-op play alleviates.
One high point of note goes to the games scripting. This is of a particularly strong quality not only gives greater emphasis to engaging you in the story, but also shows the developers really care about the story they are trying to tell. This is joined by a fantastic and atmospheric musical score for the most of your time with Moon Hunters.
Graphically, the game isn’t setting the world alight. But at the same time it hits its own style that’s not overly pixelated like a lot of ‘wannabe’ retro look titles. It’s a joy to look at but you’ll never be left with a look of awe on your face.
Whilst the play-throughs are short, it’s the procedurally generated levels and variety of areas that will keep you coming back for more of Moon Hunters. If it grasps you in the first half hour, you can easily expect to sink another ten plus into this.
If you’re an experiences veteran to RPG’s you may find Moon Hunters a little bit shallow. Though there is lots to see and experience. The latter is the main driver here. It may not be the most complex of systems, but it doesn’t set out to be. Because what Moon Hunters does offer is an experience worth playing through several times. And if it’s a more sedate and peaceful RPG you are looking for, then you need look no further as Moon Hunters will tide you by.
Moon Hunters is available now from the Xbox Store, priced £11.99.
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Moon Hunters may be a short lived experience for one playthough, but this would completely miss the point of what the developers set out to achieve. Whilst offering a procedrually generated world to explore, the writing and atmospherics alone make this shine as you unravel the mystery of the missing moon.