STAFF REVIEW of Stories of Bethem: Full Moon (Xbox One)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016.
by John Elliott

Stories of Bethem: Full Moon Box art From the very first trailer of Stories of Bethem: Full Moon that I viewed it was clear to me that the title tugged at memories from a time when I was gaming as a teenager. It reminded me of those times when I was playing some 'classic' titles on my SNES like Secret of Mana, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past and Earthbound. Stories of Bethem definitely channels these titles on the surface. Suffice to say I was game to play and I wondered if it could take me on a new adventure and create some new memories.

Right from the start you'll realize that the story is not very unique but it's far from the worse I have come across. A young man named Khoma is searching for a cure for his cursed father, a curse that was placed upon him courtesy of the Blue Witch. As he travels across the landscape he comes across the Red Witch who sends him on an adventure to gather some artifacts that will allow her to lift the curse from his father. With the objective at hand you gain access to some basic air magic and healing potions then off you go to the first dungeon to explore and find your first artifact.

Visually, the game is much like the classics I previously mentioned and the developers definitely create a wonderful homage to the 8-Bit and 16-bit generation of RPG's. However, this time around the developers have a much more vast palette to use and they definitely do so but within the confines of those days of "limited-'bits'-available-but-still-look-great" glory days. Old-school gamers will obviously feel reminiscent of they visuals but newer gamers, like my 10 year old son, will call me out for playing a game with such horrible graphics.

The music and sound effects are wonderfully crafted to add to the atmosphere of the 8-Bit and 16-bit eras with the music changing from area to area depending if you're in dungeons, on the plains or finding your way through pixelated forests. Of course the music intensifies even more when you're fighting in a boss battle and everything speeds up.

The first area you explore requires you to use all of your skills with air magic, along with your virtual physical prowess to complete a combination of feats like blowing up plants, pushing rocks around and into holes, piloting an air balloon with your magic to solve puzzles, and finally fighting monsters. After you complete the first dungeon you're off exploring the rest of the world and figure out what is next. Yes, I said it – YOU have to figure out what to do next. There is no hand holding in this title and when you're trying to power through this game for review purposes you definitely realize this because there we're many times I got stuck just skipping through areas.

This is a game where you have to explore, talk to every single NPC in the game (not just to figure stuff out, there is a lot of hidden humour in the game as well), open every single chest, search every house... I am sure you get the point. To get through this game you pretty much have to find everything and once you slow down, like I eventually did, the game becomes a lot more enjoyable. Essentially I stopped using a basketball to hammer a nail and got out my trusty hammer to do the job right.

Mechanically the biggest difference in this genre is that along with some magic you usually have armour, shields, and a big bad ass sword to take down your enemies with. This time though you're only equipped with some magic and the clothes on your back. Conveniently, you can buy some clothes from a vendor that will give you special attributes like healing, mana regeneration, or make the hearts you collect work better. So with this in mind you may need to take on a different strategy when fighting enemies, which involves a lot of attack, retreat, heal up and the rinse and repeat moments.

Stories of Bethem: Full Moon is a great old school RPG with lots of action in it. Although this title definitely hits the nostalgia level, the story had me wishing for a little more substance. All in all the gameplay and exploration aspects are a lot of fun and will easily entertain for hours. Hopefully the developers will build on this title and release a sequel or two in the future because there is most definitely room to expand on the world they have created for Stories of Bethem.

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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