The story begins the same with each play through. You are a talented worshipper of the moon at a festival celebrating the Moon Goddess through the night. In the morning something is wrong – the moon hasn’t risen over the land of Mercuria and you set off to figure out why. Along the way you come across the Sun Cult who have been growing in power and you get a warning that their leader King Mardokh will declare war on you and the remaining Moon Cultists in 5 days. The countdown is on and you set out on a quest that is unique each time. The game is pitched as a personality test RPG because your actions lead the story on a course that can vary. This claim is partially realised as each play through is unique and your character will develop, however each play through is only about an hour long which doesn’t feel quite long enough to really get into a the story. Instead you find yourself in the constellations between runs where your previous play throughs unlock parts of the story in areas and new scenarios that over time flesh out this Mesopotamian world to some degree.
Moon Hunters features an eerie soundtrack that suits the visuals and story well. The sound effects lack a bit of oomph and none stick out in my memory.
The visuals featured are pixelated and in my opinion use a beautiful pallet. The world uses pastel shades to dramatically highlight different regions. Each of the playable characters at the outset has a distinct colour but they are quite small to allow for multiplayer and as a result there is not a lot of detail to be seen in their appearance. Their spells however have a nice visualisation that reminds of sprite based games of old like street fighter. The overall world setting is excellent with nicely drawn cut scenes and an imaginative world.
On the move the Visuals are clean and I could not tell any difference between docked or handheld.
Moon Hunters is an action-based RPG that progresses in a semi-roguelike fashion, the mobs and events you come across are randomised however the maps themselves are static. You start by selecting a class which whilst well varied all play out quite similarly, you mash a main attack button, have some kind of distance move and a special AOE attack. The left stick is used to move and you make your way across a map uncovering secrets, interacting with NPCs, killing enemies and getting coins which can be spent improving your characters skills. Once you make it across a map you settle down for the night and make camp and whilst there you get to choose an action that will lead to personal development – you can go hunting making you stronger, watch the stars at night gaining wisdom if you have the Intelligence in the first place or cook food by mixing two ingredients together to make a stat enhancing meal.
Once done you get to choose which region to move to and play out the same scenario again another two times for a total of 3 nights. On the final day King Mardokh upholds his promise and you face him with a large number of different outcomes depending on whether you beat him or not and later down the line whether you unlock one of the non combat based endings. The problem is that this all happens very quickly, I found myself getting into a character and filling out their personality through my interactions as well as unlocking a load of enhancements to their skills only to finish their story in an hour. This makes the clever systems less impactful as you know each run on its own is not particularly important, rather its about unlocking more features and enhancements for next time around. Its a very clever idea but it does detract from individual play throughs.
The game was definitely made with multiplayer in mind and the characters are well balanced together, there is something fun about joining up for a run with a buddy or two. The game takes on a slightly different feel as you can combine attacks to take out mobs quite easily lowering the difficulty setting making it feel more casual which is not immediately a bad thing though it will mean you will become bored after a number of runs with a buddy.
Perfomance wise the game has two disappointing flaws that really detract – the first is a very painful loading time for new runs and in between each day, the game is not exactly pushing any boundaries in the graphics department and so I can only assume this time is spent generating the upcoming map and random events but its such a long time that it really was like throwing a bucket of ice on my enjoyment.
The second fault is random slow down which hits fairly often, luckily it slows the entire game down and passes in a few seconds so you won’t die as a result but its often enough to be a mild frustration.
At one stage I experienced a complete crash, disappointingly after finding the way to speak to animals – one of the skills you soon realise you will be able to find somehow. It was actually after defeating the final boss and I lost all progress which did frustrate me though I am unsure if this issue was a random unlucky event or something more common.
Sadly when playing this game in multiplayer I found it to be even worse and more frequent making the experience less than it should be, this for me caused the gameplay to become significantly less fun when combined with the loading times.
At $14.99 in the US and £9.99 in the UK the game falls in at the higher end of cheaper Indie titles on the Switch. The main campaign is very short and the value comes in the form of replay ability, there are a large number of unlockable classes, starting areas and other tidbits to uncover. Performance issues do let the game down and a lack of touchscreen controls do leave me a little underwhelmed in terms of value but the addition of the Eternal Echoes DLC for the purchase price is a nice touch. Major issues bring the value down as its hard to justify a games value with critical errors.