Been a bit since we’ve talked about Metroidvanias here, huh? I got really into them a few years ago, but I haven’t been out and proud about my love of filling out maps and gaining new abilities for a hot minute. One of my first forays into the genre was Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, a solid introduction to this type of game. I ended up trying one of my favorite games ever after that, Touhou Luna Nights, and the rest is history. 

Now eight years after Reverie’s release, developer Bombservice has said the Momodora series is officially ending. The aptly named Moonlit Farewell has been put forth as the last game to carry the Momodora name, with its existence feeling a bit begrudging after new IP Minoria failed to reach as large an audience in 2019. While it’s a shame that Minoria didn’t take off, this new Momodora title, Moonlit Farewell, builds on its predecessors well, making for a worthy finale to the series.

The events of Moonlit Farewell take place five years after the events of Momodora III (Reverie was a prequel). Momo, a priestess protecting the village Koho, works with her partner Isadora to stave off the threat of demons summoned by a black bell. The story was deliberately kept separate from the rest of the franchise so people didn’t feel like they had to do homework. There’s nice callbacks and if you’re familiar with the lore, it does a great job of tidying up some loose ends, but it’s otherwise just set dressing for the action.

Moonlight spilling onto this scene…It’s such a delight.

Moonlit Farewell is a simple Metroidvania, yet its simplicity is a boon rather than a detriment. You’re doing what you’d expect to: collecting items, defeating bosses, and slowly growing stronger. To me, the ideal form of a Metroidvania comes with a few key aspects; It must have an endearing art style, it must have fluid exploration and combat, and progression must be a steady and consistent upward climb. 

Moonlit Farewell nails all of those things, as the previous games did as well. The sprite work is lovely, much like previous entries in Momodora, with characters emoting adorably and scenery often a delight to behold. Bosses are large and emotive, making each encounter both a skill check as well as an opportunity to see a cool new batch of sprite animations. 

Finding new areas, dueling new enemies; it all feels good on a gameplay level, and it helps a ton that each new locale has something wonderful to look at as well. There’s a few large, empty rooms with minimal platforms or enemies just to show off a gorgeous background, and I was impressed every time. Dark, moonlit landscapes, colorful coastlines, and bloody, dank, caverns are a few of the places you’ll traverse in Moonlit Farewell, and they’re all fantastic to travel through.

The way light is used in Moonlit Farewell must be mentioned. Look how nice the walls look!

Progression feels fluid and there are nearly no frustrating hurdles. The standard “find an item/beat a boss and backtrack to where you couldn’t go before” formula is in full effect here, but I never ran into any major confusion on where to go or how to get there. I especially enjoyed how the map was broken up, with the main dungeon leading to a few different locales, but a handful of other locations sprung out from the starting town. This allows for a reprieve from the main story in order to buff yourself up.

The aforementioned buffs aren’t massive game changers for the most part, but they do add variety. Sigils are floating cards you collect that fit into slots in your inventory to activate different effects. My go-to power-up was the addition of a small projectile to all of my melee attacks. It allowed me to keep distant enemies stunned while I took care of closer ones. This did invalidate the actual projectile weapon, a bow and arrow that you can also assign upgrades to, but I’m sure someone else might rather use the bow more. The option is there, and Moonlit Farewell doesn’t railroad you into a singular playstyle throughout. Find what you like and stick with it, or hop between Sigils and experiment, it’ll work.

The only major gripe I have isn’t even that major, it’s a nitpick if anything. You unlock fast travel about ¾ of the way through the game. There’s not much more I can say beyond “c’mooooon that should be available from the jump!” The map isn’t a behemoth so it’s not like it takes you twenty minutes to get from the starting village to where you need to go, but by the time you get fast travel, you’re starting to wrap things up and need it far less than before. 

The finale to the Momodora series doesn’t break new ground, or try and disrupt the flow of what made the previous entries work. It does feel like the creative team wanted to be a bit more cautious after Minoria failed to latch on, but the strong foundation grown on the entire franchise means that even a safe entry is still a solid one. I loved my time with Moonlit Farewell, and can only hope the next Bombservice game tries new things without fear.

4 stars

Good

"Moonlit Masterpiece"

The final Momodora game does exactly what it sets out to do: Wrap up the franchise's lore, provide satisfying combat, and look damn good doing it.

About John

John Michonski is Gamesline’s Editor in Chief. He’s a fun man who likes to do good.

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