Moon Hunters: A Gut Feeling Game
Another uneventful day of world quests in World of Warcraft Legion had gone by when I had the sudden urge to check out theindiebox for their Indie Game Collector Editions. It’s the collector’s edition content without the outrageous price tag. I’d been wary of subscription services for “Geek Items” ever since I had many consecutive months of disliking the boxes I received through Loot Crate (Sorry guys. The first year was amazing, but then it lost its’ spark). That day I was surprised to see Owlboy a game I had been following for a while had a Standard Edition, but no collectors yet so I looked around on the rest of the site. That’s when a game called “Moon Hunters” caught my eye.
“You have 5 days before King Mardokh and the Sun Cultists declare war on Issaria’s tribes. Multiple playthroughs of this short story will let you see it from different angles and uncover new sides to characters, conflicts, and narratives. Try out all 4 player hometowns and 6 character classes, each with their own abilities and randomly generated upgrades as you build your mythology.
“Every action and choice you make contributes to your legend, as a constellation in the night sky. How will you be remembered?”¹
I have always been interested in 8-bit RPG games, but the main selling point for Moon Hunters was the 1 to 4 player local co-op. I usually go to a friends house to play video games and our latest obsession was “Risk of Rain”. We played it for months with no end in sight, but all great things must come to an end. I was on a mission for something that would bring us all together again. Alongside my love for local co-op my interest was piqued by the game being described it as a “personality test”, which is a flashy way of saying that the decisions you make affect how others see you. The way you interact with others also affects which stats are leveled up. An example would be if you spoke to a villager and chose a “wise” decision it would raise your faith which translates to your Intellect stat. Games like Dragon Age and Black and White have been doing this for a long time, but KitFox Games was able to make it feel like something fresh and new.
What was in the box helped convince me to buy it as well. If I could say what is most important to me about a collector’s edition it would be that it must come with a physical soundtrack. I love music and developers put a lot of extra effort into making music that sets the tone of a game. Luckily,Moon Hunters had one and I was taking a gamble on something I had never heard, but I did say this was a gut feeling game. Cute stickers and magnets are always a plus for me especially if they pertain to the game. This came with food magnets. You can mix and match different food combinations to increase specific stats in-game so I thought that was incredibly clever. Finally, the most impressive item was definitely the USB drive which was shaped like the Sun Temple. The drive contains a DRM-Free Windows copy of the game for you to share it with others if you choose to do so. You can just keep it for yourself, I won’t judge. I placed my order and was faced with the hardest challenge, waiting for it to ship and arrive at my door. It didn’t help that I was watching trailers of it up until the day before it got to me, but the hype was real.
Moon Hunters finally arrived and I was prepared to do an unboxing, but I was too excited and brought it over to my friend’s house and started playing together immediately. I have so many first impressions of the gameplay. The very first one though was “OH MY GOD! LOOK AT THESE ADORABLE SPRITES!”. I am a complete pushover for adorable 8-bit sprites. You start off in a blue shaded over world map as a small flame sprite. You can’t do much here in the beginning aside from select “New Game”. The game opens with a beautifully hand drawn character select screen. There are 4 diverse characters you can select right off the bat and the other 3 are unlockable at a later time.
“Even in a single-player game, the most important element of a character’s design is that the player can recognize the character in the game. Whether you’re playing as a dragon, a robot, or a ball of sludge, the player should look at a screenshot and not only see where the character is on the screen, but also think it is cool (or if your desired aesthetic isn’t cool, then cute or sad or whatever else). Why does anyone want to play this character? Why does it exist?”²
The Spellblade is a close ranged character that uses a sword, the Ritualist is a long ranged character that manipulates shadows, the Druid is a shapeshifter who is both a close and long ranged character, and finally the Witch who is a user of blood magic. Each character has 2 attack moves and one evasive move which you figure out by playing with the controls a bit. There’s a mini map in the corner that uncovers as you explore more of the area which means for me as a completionist I must see it all. Your main mission for this first area is to find and set up camp so that you may make it back to your village for the Moon festival. You learn that in 5 days the Sun Warriors will revolt against the other tribes and pretty much send the world into chaos which hit me with some major Avatar the Last Airbender vibes. After the Moon festival is over you are asked to find the Moon Goddess and once you leave the village you are given choices of which areas you’d like to explore. It’s very tough to decide where to go first because you can only explore one place per day save for a few areas that open up secret locations. When you have completed the story you’ll figure out if you had the good, the middle, or the bad ending. Yes, there are multiple endings. Your character also gets a sweet obituary describing your adventures throughout the game. Finally, you play again.
Obviously, no game is perfect, even though we all wish for one. There were quite a few glitches with gathering health pieces. They would sometimes get stuck in unobtainable areas such as on top of rocks or in water. It’s quite the nuisance especially if you’re not sure you’re going to make it back to the campfire for the night because of the waves of difficult enemies. The cut scenes also end abruptly which made it feel as if some of the scenes had more to add to the story and something just got cut out. A final thought was there was no inventory or journal to keep track of the side quests you had been tasked with. I constantly forget who I have talked to or the next person I’m supposed to interact with. There are many paths to choose and something that could help you stay on track would make the game more manageable.
Overall, Moon Hunters was a wonderful purchase. I usually go with my gut feeling when I’m deciding on a book to read and I hope I can apply this to the games I want to purchase. This may have also changed my mind on subscription boxes as well. If You have any Indie game suggestions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. You can also let me know if there was a game you purchased on a whim and fell in love with. Until next time!