Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)

Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC, Mac

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Moonfall Ultimate
Format: PSN (728.1 MB)
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Wales Interactive
Developer: Fishcow Studio
Original MSRP: $12.99 (US), £9.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Editor’s Note:
A patch was released for Moonfall Ultimate during the course of this review which fixed various bugs such as sped-up character movement and one-hit kills on all enemies. This review is based on the post-patch version of the game.

Gameplay:
Moonfall Ultimate is a 2D, side-scrolling action RPG with some Metroidvania aspects. Originally released as Moonfall for PC in April 2017, the controls for Moonfall Ultimate translate well to the DualShock 4, although some precision is missing that can result in the occasional missed melee attack or whiffed spell.

There are three unique, playable classes in Moonfall Ultimate: Vanguard, Elementalist, and Shadow. Each class has a brief description, unique basic attack, unique power bar that provides various buffs, and four unique Abilities which are unlocked and automatically mapped to Square, Triangle, Circle, or X. The skill tree for the Abilities is very small, and can be advanced using points unlocked as you progress through the game.

Moonfall Ultimate seems to be heavily inspired by precursors in a similar genre such as Diablo, while lacking some of the depth and complexity of those games. Though this is a looter in the sense that enemies sometimes drop weapons and armor that can be equipped, the drops seem few and far between and any bonus that the gear provides is pretty basic and uninteresting.

Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)

Creating loadouts that work together cohesively is always a fun part of loot-progressive RPGs, but that sense of experimentation is all but missing in Moonfall Ultimate. For some players, a “lite” version of Diablo may be appealing as a more casual experience, but for those seeking a deeper gameplay experience and more reason to replay the game they may be disappointed.

It must also be mentioned that there were a few bugs experienced during this review, such as being frozen with no character on the screen or getting stuck in the menus without being able to return to the action. These bugs had no known fix other than shutting down the game and relaunching it.

Combat in Moonfall Ultimate requires some practice to perfect when things are getting hectic and overall it doesn’t have a great feel to it. As a 2D side-scroller, depth within a level comes into play often, and some attacks or Abilities can flat-out miss as a result of being slightly higher or lower than your opponent.

While this is nothing new to the genre, simply requiring a more skill-based attack, it removes some of the grindable aspects of the game as a looter and feels more obtuse than similar actions in RPGs. The Abilities that do more of an area-of-effect damage are satisfying to use. This can be done strategically by luring in a group of baddies before blasting them all simultaneously and then picking off the weaker ones, one at a time. Enemies have health bars displayed above them and damage-indicating numbers appear as they are attacked.

Your character travels back to a hub world in between levels where you can buy and sell items using the game’s currency system or speak to various NPCs who hand out quests and chat to add some context to the story.

Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)

In addition to what the NPCs tell your character, there’s also a brief cutscene at the beginning of the game and pieces of lore scattered throughout the levels in the form of “secret messages” which help explain the story. Overall, the narrative of Moonfall Ultimate does not add much to the game.

The Metroidvania aspects come into play as each level is a series of interconnected rooms and occasionally a switch has to be flipped or a key used to access some parts of the map. The map is initially hidden, then unlocks as you progress through it or use an item that reveals it.

When a door is opened, a small picture-in-picture appears in corner of the screen to indicate that you have in fact opened the door and to give a clue as to where the door is. This and other little details throughout Moonfall Ultimate add to its old-school sensibilities and really give the game a fun feeling of nostalgia without directly lifting from a franchise of the past.

Visuals:
The hand-painted aesthetic in Moonfall Ultimate is its strongest feature. The color palette is rich and varied and creates an overall appearance that jumps off the screen more than a 16-bit version of the same game would.

Character models feature a great deal of detail and change as new weapons or armor are equipped. Enemy models are particularly fun to behold and feature a ton of detail, especially the bosses. All of the characters move almost as though they have hinged limbs like a marionette puppet, which is wholly unique and makes the game feel as though you are controlling living art.

Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)

The game’s levels are well-designed and sometimes feature moving parts in the background, but after a while they can become repetitive. Abilities can sometimes seem visually underwhelming, but again, their style hearkens back to a simpler time in gaming.

The map and menu systems keep up with the trend of Moonfall Ultimate going old-school, as they would feel right at home in a 16-bit era RPG. The text is bold and minimal under the already minimal categories of player attributes and equipment. The map is blocky and simplified, though it accurately portrays the portioned-off maps.

All of the standardized RPG HUD elements are well-done and it’s clear when an Ability is ready or health is getting low. Overall, there are not a lot of frills visually but this lack of modern features serves the timeless art-like appearance of any given frame.

Audio:
The audio in Moonfall Ultimate is fine, but it really does nothing to stand out. The fantasy score is subdued in the background and does not seem to vary depending on the action at hand. The metallic clinks of weapons and armor are punctuated with grunts and groans of battle as well as the various Ability sounds, but altogether it blends into a fairly repetitive and low-key buzz of battle. The shouts of NPCs back at the hub are light-hearted and almost silly, adding some levity to the game.

Online/Multiplayer:
Moonfall Ultimate features couch co-op for two players but has no online multiplayer component. Only the single player version of the game was played for the sake of this review.

Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)Review: Moonfall Ultimate (PS4)

Conclusion:
Moonfall Ultimate is an enjoyable, though somewhat flawed, romp through a classic genre packaged within a fresh and unique visual style. There’s not a lot of depth to the game, but if you’re looking to do some hacking and looting without a long-term commitment, then this may be worth giving a try. Though somewhat lacking in overall feel and fun factor, Moonfall Ultimate does enough on its own to carve out a unique niche that blends traditional RPG tropes with distinctive presentation.

Score:
6.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Brock Arnett

Gamer since the NES days, Boilermaker, Colts and Pacers fan. I can’t wait until my two boys are old enough to play games with me.

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