Based purely on the title, Momodora: Reverie under the Moonlight creates an impression of some dreamy piece of classical music which will help you gently relax before the sleep with a nice glass of wine and a book. However, this is actually one of the most pleasant surprises of the booming side-scrolling retro action platformer genre we had the chance to try out in recent years. The game by a developer called Bombservice had originally appeared in 2016 for PC and later for a variety of other platforms, reaping scores of heartfelt praises from both gamers and gaming critics alike. Thankfully, after a few years of cross-platform rambling, Momodora: Reverie under the Moonlight had finally been introduced to Nintendo Switch, so this is the version we’re having under our magnifying glass right now.
In case you didn’t know, Momodora: Reverie under the Moonlight is actually a fourth chapter in the Momodora, a franchise that’s been around for almost a decade, ever since 2010. However, this is not your usual sequel, but, in fact, a prequel, set about 400 before the events in the first Momodora game had transpired. You’ll take the role of Kaho, a courageous leaf-wielding priestess tasked with stomping out the curse that infested her native village of Lyn and which is now rapidly spreading like a plague, threatening to bring down the rest of this once tranquil kingdom. The curse in question is of the usual variety, meaning that it involves the standard mishmash of monsters, malevolent forces and undead raging throughout the beautiful realm of Karst. Recognizing the magnitude of the threat and futility of almost impossible task she’s faced with, young Kaho will soon realize that the best course of action would be to seek the just queen of Karst. If anyone, she’s the one who would definitely know just what to do in this unsavory predicament.
Despite being quite frail and gentle looking in her white-caped schoolgirl outfit, Kaho isn’t your typical giggly defenseless damsel. The girl certainly knows her way around the forests, damp and gloomy castle hallways, and other perilous monster-infested locations. Her main melee weapon of choice is a red maple leaf she uses to slice and dice all enemies who stand in her way. For those critters who just won’t stay put, as well as those overwhelming brutes who’ll crush her like a fly is she’ll attempt to face them in hand to hand combat, Kaho wields bow and arrows. In addition to being extremely handy in combat, the bow will be also used as a tool for solving several minor puzzles during the course of the game.
Momodora: Reverie under the Moonlight takes place in a magnificently green-hued and auburn autumnal environment, which grants the game a sort of pensive, almost melancholy feel. Although this particular aspect may totally be in harmony with the title of the game, the general gentleness of its presentation and tasteful subtlety of its color palette is in great discordance with the gameplay of the game. Despite fluid and ultimately satisfying combat system, Momodora: Reverie under the Moonlight, on occasion, boasts frustratingly difficult fights, especially if you’ve had the close encounter with some of more imposing boss monsters. This is a game that will harshly punish you for the lack of tactics, so when the frontal attack fails – as it frequently will – you’ll be only able to overcome particularly powerful enemies by using a clever combination of evading, combos and dodge rolls. The environment is a thing that potentially can help you or hinder you during the fights, so make sure to always use it to your best advantage. Thankfully, from time to time, you’ll encounter bells where you’ll be able to pray and save your game status.
As it’s relatively common among retro-styled action platformers, Momodora: Reverie under the Moonlight boasts gorgeous visuals. Despite harking back to the golden days of 16-bit graphics, this game manages to look retro and modern at the same time. Animations are smooth and overall design of locations, characters and especially monsters deserve all possible praises. Although its storyline is a bit derivative and gameplay doesn’t offer anything revolutionary new (nor does it tries), Momodora: Reverie under the Moonlight is a prime example of a title with an impeccable execution which brings all these different aspects flawlessly together, providing you with extremely enjoyable if a bit short experience.