STAFF REVIEW of Moonfall Ultimate (Xbox One)

Thursday, September 20, 2018.
by Brent Roberts

Moonfall Ultimate Box art There are games that take you back to days of simpler times; where the action was always enjoyable and the experience made you yearn for more. Games like Golden Axe may be like Sanskrit to those who think a PS2 is an antique, but these action/RPG side scrolling games provided countless gamers from around the world incredible amounts of enjoyment, so much so that they have etched themselves into gaming lore. Fishcow Studio is now trying to make their mark by releasing Moonfall Ultimate for the Xbox One, so let's see how many boxes we can check off and find out if Moonfall Ultimate deserves a rightful place at the top of this prestigious category.

As we venture forth, it is worth noting that Moonfall Ultimate does NOT support online multiplayer, but does support local co-op, so if you have a friend (doubtful though) that wants to come over and take part in this hack and slash RPG adventure, then they are welcomed. I'm sorry, but I have to ding this game right off the bat for something like this. Having some form of lobby system or the ability to invite people to connect online is a trait found in other games of the same genre, so not including this feature seems a little apathetic.

In Moonfall Ultimate you get to pick to make your character one of three different classes:

1) Vanguard - Consider this your warrior/tank class. These characters can hit like a freight train and take a lot of damage, but that's about it. They do have some drawbacks though, as is to be expected.

2) Elementalist - Here are your magic wielders. These characters can sling powers of fire, ice, and more and can apply these magical traits to their own weapons as well. The downside? They can get damaged very easily, as in VERY easily. Range is going to be your friend.

3) Shadow - These characters are your trap laying assassins. They specialize in distractions that keep your enemies busy while you go in for the kill. While this is nice, they do require a lot of work to take enemies down so expect a very long fight.

Each one of these types of characters possess a skill tree that offer unique abilities that can either impact a single enemy or deliver an attack that affects an area. Points are earned through leveling up and can be assigned to the corresponding skills, provided that any prerequisite skill is already unlocked. The classes that are offered are poised to deliver a classic balanced experience, however, there are a few problems that lurk below the surface and that deals with the game play.

First, your character controls are incredibly poor. Using your stick to move your character, you get the feeling that they are in desperate need of decaf coffee, because the movements are ridiculously jarring. You will eventually become accustomed to the speed, but the learning curve is exponentially high and that is also thanks to the biggest problem, that being the unfair targeting system. Let me explain what I mean by that.

Enemies you will face can fire ranged attacks at you, and every shot they fire, even if they are above or below you on the screen, will directly fly right at your character. However, this Robin Hood like precision isn't bestowed upon your character at all, so your character will ultimately find the best method to hit someone is to run right in and swing your weapon. This reality though essentially makes the other classes other than Vanguard an almost waste of time. I strongly recommend that you tackle the game on easy difficulty until you can get the feel for the game mechanics, otherwise you're going to be learning the hard way why the Left Trigger block feature is going to be your best friend.

Now I've been talking about the gameplay mechanics a lot and they are fairly simplistic. Your skills are mapped to the face buttons such as X, Y, etc and your potions are the Right and Left Bumpers that identify with your health and mana gauges which are located in the top left corner. Your D-Pad acts as your interactive portal and will allow you to read scrolls, open chests, hit switches and so forth. Despite all of this, sadly the combat will almost always boil down to you swinging your weapon in close range combat.

There's another issue as well and that involves the storyline. It had potential to be tremendous, but sadly feels very underwhelming and pointless. It's your classic trope about several kingdoms are at peace but one, then this lonely kingdom harnesses the magical powers of a fallen space rock, causing all the other kingdoms make deals to use the technology, thus the Empire was born. Peace reigned for years, and then the king of the Empire died and that is when the other kingdoms started a civil war for dominance (think watered down Game of Thrones but without the hot women, well written plot, developed characters, etc. You get the picture).

Since going through this story can be relatively quick, you'll spend a lot of time trying to trudge through various side quests where you'll have to rescue someone or defeat some sub boss character, but thankfully you'll earn this shiny blue element gems which act as currency where you can trade them in for items, weapons and armor back at your camp. Think of these as necessary evils because the bulk of your experience and currency will be earned through them.

There is a bright spot though, and that is Moonfall Ultimate is a very beautiful game to look at. The artwork in each level looks like a piece of freshly painted backdrop from a master's canvas, and each character, including the enemies, are done in such detail that you'd be hard pressed to find another game in this genre that looks as good, if not better.

I wish I had better news readers, I really do, but regrettably Moonfall Ultimate is far from ultimate. It actually pains me to say this because I was looking forward to an incredible gaming experience, yet found nothing that came close. You would think that with such classic iconic titles of the past, and those that are still actively being utilized to this day (Diablo, I'm looking at you), that developing a solid gameplay action RPG game would almost be too easy to create.

Moonfall Ultimate had potential unlike very few other games had before it, but like an Elementalist whose out of mana, its quality went up in a puff of smoke. As I stated earlier, there are games that take you back to days of simpler times, yet sadly Moonfall Ultimate isn't one of them, where the action was always enjoyable and the experience made you yearn for more. For $12.49 you can purchase this or save a little more and get a high quality game such as Diablo 3. I think you know what the best route to take is going to be.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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