Created by a solo developer, Moonfall is a turn based rouge-lite that is designed to provide a razor sharp, short and swift experience that you can replay multiple times to try different loadouts. By keeping things simple, you may initially find that the game might not provide much of a challenge but the difficulty soon ramps up after a few runs and suddenly you’ll be thinking about every move you make much more carefully.
Each game sees you start off with four travellers aiming to get across the moon to a valley. The road is narrow and only allows three characters to stay side by side. Each turn sees you choose a character to move forward or take an action. When this happens, all your characters move forward a space and into whatever lays ahead of them on the space they land. Initially this might be to avoid some dodgy terrain that will injure you or picking up some resources. Survive long enough to hit a town or temple and you’ll get a randomised event take place that may allow you to recruit a new traveller, buy some more resources or upgrade something in your night camp. Your camp allows you to heal, scout ahead or build new shields before you head off to the next road.
The key part in all of this is that your party moves forward every turn so Moonfall is all about party placement and job roles. Get a sheilder and you’ll have a tank upfront to help you clear the way. A gatherer can double your resources to make better armour whilst a traveller can move double spaces or swap characters around. Each type of traveller has definite perks and increasing your party size is a double edged sword as you won’t be able to move many of them out of the way in time – they’ll end up dying. This keeps you lean and mean. Sometimes you’ll just have to let some people die to stay that way.
As the game progresses, it is about staying agile and beating the odds. In some ways it reminds me a little of Pharsis in that sometimes it feels quite impossible to survive a barrage of injury inducing crystal shards and I must admit I’ve never actually reached the end of the game. The developer says it’ll take between 2-5 hours depending on your route. I’m usually dead and out after an hour. Bits of lore and new classes you’ve met along the way carry over between playthroughs but aside from that allowing a wider starting selection, nothing really gives you much of an advantage next time around. That does mean if you have some bad runs in a row, it doesn’t feel like you’ve learned much and that perseverance isn’t as rewarded as most other games that say they are rogue-lites. It was always enjoyable though, made more so with the light and dusty colour palettes and graphics that gives the game a unique feel.
Where the game does (Moon)fall down a bit for me is in the lore and world building. A lot of things are hinted at early on in the games set up but nothing really comes of any of it. Instead I found myself thinking clinically in jobroles and my party needs and ignored any of the tiny world building around me. I wasn’t emotionally invested in characters – I just wanted to aim for the longest journey I could with what I had. This won’t matter to many people playing as its designed to be short and snappy but for me it meant I had less inclination to return to a story that didn’t exist.
Despite its difficulty curve that goes from barely existent to quickly brutal in a sharp slope after the first 15 minutes of a playthrough, I did enjoy my time with Moonfall. It is technically well put together and whilst some balancing and more emotion would have been nice, if you need some streamlined tactics – you could do an awful lot worse.
Streamlined tactics makes Moonfall a fun if not always engrossing RPG.
Always moving forward means always in peril.
Lovely artwork and style.
Constant resource juggling forces you to be decisive every move.
Sharp difficulty curves can feel a bit unfair.
Limited moves and actions means limited strategies you can deploy.
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