The demonic offspring of Bloodborne and Super Metroid: You should be playing Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight

What is it?

A tough-as-nails Metroidvania that takes as much inspiration from 16-bit classics as it does Bloodborne

Play it if you like:

Navigating maze-like hallways; brooding, demonic terror; dying a lot

  • Format: PS4/PC
  • Price: $9.99/£6.99
  • Release date: Out Now

Let’s get this out of the way up front: Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is hard. Real hard. Within the first few moments of hitting Start and arriving in this haunted, pixelated land, you’re probably – no, definitely – going to die. Enemies can do massive damage with one or two hits, and your only way to regenerate health is a handful of bellflower petals that only return when you activate a save point, which get further and further apart as you progress. Momodora will beat you down, but you will keep returning, each new attempt strengthening your resolve and teaching you how to overcome its challenges

This is the point where I drag out the cliche that Momodora is like the Dark Souls or Bloodborne of non-linear sidescrolling platformers, but it’s a description that’s absolutely apt here – and not just because of its difficulty. Momodora embraces many of the things that make Bloodborne so unique – the foreboding atmosphere, the multiple branching pathways with shortcuts that make subsequent trips easier to navigate, and a hell of a dodge roll – but twists them just enough, combining these elements with its detailed pixel art and lush animations to make them its own.

A thick, oppressive fog of disquiet hangs over the entire game, as priestess Kaho arrives in a foreign land to abolish the curse infecting her home. As she pushes forward, she learns that something evil has corrupted the queen here, and your mission is to hunt down four pieces of a talisman and defeat her, thus purifying the land. It’s a simple tale, one that largely gets out of the way and lets its creeping dread do most of the work setting the scene. You’ll wander through dusty old buildings, gothic churches, and verdant gardens, all of them poisoned by a demonic presence, naught but the sound of low moaning or the threshing of enemy attacks to accompany you. Occasionally you’ll come across a resident of this transformed kingdom, some of them dealing with their current living situation better than others. Don’t let its gorgeously styled SNES-influenced graphics fool you: Momodora can be downright disturbing when it wants to be.

It’s also a pixel-perfect action-platformer, one that rewards tenacity and perseverance with new abilities and challenges that make the most of them. Momodora doesn’t explicitly tell you where to go other than your overarching goal: restore the talisman, and enter the castle to battle the queen. How you explore, then, is largely up to you. There’s no right or wrong way to forge ahead through this blighted landscape, but there’s a good chance you’ll wander into a boss fight you’re ill equipped to deal with – another page ripped right from Bloodborne’s playbook. You can keep studying their moves and attempt to beat them early on, or you can hunt for hidden health upgrades, buy some equipment to help prevent status ailments or apply poison damage to your bow, or simply try to find a route you feel more comfortable tackling at the moment. 

Enemies have very distinct tells, and while you’ll likely get creamed during your first attempt through a tricky section, by your third or fourth try, you’ll dodge-roll past attacks and take enemies out with a well-timed combo from your sacred leaf like a pro. Well, at least until an arrow trap appears and skewers you in mid-air in the next room – but now you know for next time. Each gain you make feels earned, your first hour of scrambling for any kind of footing giving way to complete mastery as you grow accustomed to Momodora’s simple yet satisfying mechanics.

At around five hours or so to finish, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is short but sweet – well, as sweet as a game filled with witches and demons all out to murder you can be, anyway. If you’re looking for a solid platformer with a satisfying challenge and a hell of an atmosphere, be sure not to miss this one.

You Should Be Playing celebrates innovative, unexpected games that belong on your radar, with a new game every Monday at 0900 PST / 1700 GMT. Follow @gamesradar (opens in new tab) on Twitter for updates.

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