Moonfall Ultimate Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: Fishcow Studios
Publisher: Wales Interactive Ltd.
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
Price as of Article: $10.39 USD, £7.99 GBP
Game code provided by Wales Interactive Ltd for review
As Moonfall Ultimate begins, we are treated to a cutscene that sets the background to a kingdom risen above its small and humble background by a fair and exceptional king. Upon his death the savages set-in and different factions are poised to cause havoc in the inevitable power struggle. You play the role of a recruit across the campaigns 13 missions.
Sadly I felt cheated, this initial story had me expecting a classic and epic RPG tale that never materialises. The story takes a back seat past this intro, it seems a wasted opportunity.
Moonfall Ultimate is a 2D action RPG inspired by games like Golden Axe, you get to play as one of 3 classes – Vanguard, Elementalist or Shadow, each with their preferred play style and special skills. As you progress you get to delve into a skill tree and find rare weapons and gear to strengthen your character, in order to tackle quests and progress through the campaign – these are all classic tick boxes for a solid action RPG, but unfortunately, the game is plagued with issues that lead to a lackluster experience throughout.
Starting with controls the movement of your character and enemies just doesn’t feel right, you move with the Left Stick and can face left or right with awkward diagonal movements, there is only one speed and the hand-drawn graphics don’t improve the rigid feeling you experience. This isn’t helped by the fact that your spells can only be shot left or right, if you are not lined up with your enemies your skills will harmlessly miss, adding to an odd sense of depth – something that was certainly around in the Golden Axe days but doesn’t feel right here.
You use ZL to shield yourself and ZR to attack with your main weapon. A activates your currently equipped skill – oddly you have other skills on a quickbar but need to equip them by pressing Y, X or B and then, when equipped, press A to activate the skill – as an elementalist this is especially odd, as you need to equip a spell to use it, then equip another spell to use that, and it ends up confusing and time-consuming – why you couldn’t just use A, X, Y and B to cast these skills I do not know.
Cookie cutter quests
The game gives you a number of tasks in the form of quests, these are typically killing X number of mobs or escort generic character A to point Y, the story is lacking here and it feels very much like the early levels of an MMORPG from the early 2000’s. Because of the awkward controls and set up the combat just isn’t very enjoyable, which is a shame when you consider that there are over 60 unique mobs, a bunch of spells and skills to unlock, rare items and a generally well crafted open game world.
In this ultimate edition of the game, we are given the pleasure of couch co-op, it’s a welcome addition and I can see this being the best way to play for most people, though in truth we didn’t stick to it for too long, as we grew a bit bored having played through the same areas in single player. We are also given an endless mode, in which you need to kill all enemies in a small area before proceeding to the next screen and carrying on.
The background music in Moonfall Ultimate is pretty good, there are a number of tracks and they fit the industrial gothic vibe quite well. The ambient background noise is equally quite good, with crickets and running water being welcome additions. Where the audio lets us down is in the sound effects department – whacking a monster with a sword needs to have a certain weight to it, and slinging a fireball at a mob needs to feel like you have thrown petrol onto a BBQ. We are missing the oomph, and every time I threw a fireball it felt like throwing a match at an elephant on a rainy day.
Individual hand-drawn images sound great, and there definitely are nice touches. The backgrounds have a watercolour painting feel that I like, and some of the mobs – especially some of the beefier ones, later on, look really good. I always like it when you change weapons and can see the change on your character as well.
I did find that the colour palette used was a bit drab with a lot of browns and muted greens and greys, which are likely on purpose to fit the gothic theme. Layers really stand out in a bad way, interactable items stick out like a sore thumb, and your character and enemies have the same stuck on quality – when you combine that with janky animations the result is not pleasing on the eye. Worse, I did experience some lag when there was quite a bit going on.
You cannot argue that there are multiple modes and difficulties, multiplayer is on offer and the 3 different classes do give you choice. From that perspective the value is very fair – on the flip side, I can’t imagine many people falling in love with the game and playing it through more than once if that. More polish would have been welcome.
Not a bad soundtrack
Classes, skill trees and RPG staples
Wasted story opportunity
Lackluster and sluggish gameplay