Moonscars’ divisive art style hides an uplifting soul-like experience

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Platform(s): PC (revised version), Xbox Series, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Gender: Soulslike 2D action quest with monochrome style graphics

It takes a lot for indie developers to tell their quest action games apart from each other, especially when it comes to Soulslike’s challenging action route. Just go and search your Steam “soulslike” page and you’ll find quite a few from this year and last. If you haven’t had enough yet and want a title with a slightly more mystical look, there’s Moonscars.

The strengths of the Moonscars 2D action game are apparent: you play as a badass knight named Gray Irma who is on the hunt for a character called the Prime Sculptor, given that she is in a world where warriors of clay is unleashed in the kingdom where she is and everything is laid to waste. Hence the grey, dystopian vibe of the game’s aesthetic and world: it’s no fairy tale, though there are talking cats and moon priestesses.

And spikes. Many, many spikes.

On the trailers, the game looks splendid in motion. In practice, however, you may have to get used to what’s visible and what’s hidden in plain sight, which adds a layer of challenge to an already difficult game where enemies can kill you in a matter of seconds. blows, and the dead will create “blood”. moon phase” where they are polished. Later levels where the art style of the game becomes a bit more “edgy” and “obscure”, to put it mildly, can also mess with your bearings. It doesn’t completely distract and makes the whole ordeal unbearable, but I can see a lot of people wondering why the game’s animation is so smooth when trying to figure out if that figure is really there to get them.

Still, the action and challenge on offer in Moonscars is legitimately fun and calculated. Our main heroine, who moves and fights like a professional human knight, must go to her creator and face the many deadly constructions and clay monsters that stand in her way. She’s equipped with the best move types you could ask for in a Metroidvania title where you can die very quickly from Dark Souls *** bulls: fast dodging with fast recovery, parry, fast attacks and powerful special moves. acquire from your own look-alikes.

These slow but hard-hitting attacks range from heavy hammer blows that stun to piercing javelins that weaken enemies against your Ichor spells. The only magical resource in the game is called Ichor, and with it you can cast a fair amount of spells, from the standard ichor fireball blast to summoning explosive winged familiars. These are incredibly useful, especially with the many enemies you’ll face, some of which can even explode in your face.

Speaking of which, killing them will earn you Spite bonuses that boost your Ichor spells and healing to amazing and cumulative levels. If you die, you lose them all. It’s great in practice, but when you’re prepping for a boss that you’re going to die multiple times to, it feels useless in the long run. And the less said about the game’s insistence on deliberately placing checkpoints away from these difficult encounters for artificial difficulty, the better. Also, anyone who thought it was a good idea to have the game’s fast travel method that stops Gray Irma mid-run and prone for a second if she collides with enemies, making her very vulnerable to potential one-hit kills, should be punched.

Of course, if you’re not a fan of going back to fight bosses with little to no room for error – where you can only survive up to three hits without on-the-fly healing – as well as those bonuses Spite just to get a head start on those frustrating fights, then Moonscars isn’t for you. Despite its cute animation and unique appearance, its punishing gameplay isn’t for everyone.

There are other experiences similar to Soulslike 2D that don’t feel like you have to hustle just to get to its finish line; Too bad Moonscars decided to go this route because its setting and presentation set it apart.

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