For the last two weeks my life has revolved around one thing — hunting moons. I’m currently on a quest to play Super Mario Odyssey to 100% completion, with over 800 Power Moons and counting. I’ve also been tracking down a couple of pretty rad Funko POPs, created in the likeness of one of my favorite Marvel characters, Moon Knight. In the last few days, however, I’ve moved my Moon hunting over to the land of Issaria, courtesy of Kitfox Games’ lovingly crafted “personality test RPG” — Moon Hunters.
Your Journey Begins
Moon Hunters is a tale of two factions of people in the land of Issaria, those who worship the Moon, and those who worship the Sun. On the night of a feast celebrating the full moon, the moon fails to rise, sending the land and its people into disarray. Members of the Sun Cult begin to proclaim that the Moon is dead, killed by her brother, and their god, the Sun. It’s up to a chosen warrior of the Moon to find out what has happened, and to keep the Sun Cultists at bay. It’s a simple concept that dates back to some of the very first things in history that people worshipped, and it works well for this mystical adventure. Your hero can be one of seven classes from one of six tribes, and their efforts to bring back the Moon will become the stuff of legend.
The gameplay of Moon Hunters is pretty straightforward: there are ultimately seven classes to choose from when you start your playthrough, though three of them are locked at first and must be unlocked throughout your playthroughs. Each of these classes starts with three different attack options — X is a special or strong attack, Y is a standard attack and B is a movement option, which can inflict damage depending on the class you’ve chosen. These options can be upgraded and made more powerful or more efficient by spending Opals that can be found throughout the world. Each of the seven classes is wholly unique, and each one is fun in its own way. Some classes are very physical, focusing on close combat, while others can attack from afar in order for your hero to stay safe. I tended to do better with long-distance focus classes, though by now I’ve been pretty successful with every class.
The game takes place over the course of five days, with the days only finishing once you find a place to camp, or you run out of health. Each night, you can select one of five activities to perform to boost certain stats: stargazing will boost your character’s Intelligence and Faith, while choosing to hunt will raise your Strength and maximum health. Each day allows you to select an area to explore, and the selections are wide-ranging every day; from forests and snow-covered peaks to riverlands and scorched deserts, there are plenty of options to choose from. The maps themselves are procedurally generated, so you never know quite how it will all shake out.
A Tale as Old as Time
The randomly generated maps are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making each playthrough of Moon Hunters unique. I’ve played through the game several times now and have only seen the same events a handful of times. You can start your game from one of six different villages, allowing you to interact with an entirely different population for each playthrough. Outside of these surface-level options that you can choose, there are also a few things under the hood that will dictate how your playthrough will go. Almost every interaction you have will raise certain stats and end up giving your character a reputation for certain personality traits. These personality traits can serve to unlock certain events or allow you to perform specific tasks in your playthrough, along with affecting how different characters view you during future interactions.
The most exciting aspect of these personality traits affecting the game comes after you’ve beaten it though — each time you complete a playthrough, your character becomes immortalized as a legend in the world of Moon Hunters, turning into a constellation in the game’s hub world, along with a written version of their legend based on their personality traits and actions. Each of these legends will also be mentioned by name and will be frequently talked about by characters in subsequent playthroughs. It’s one of my favorite parts of Moon Hunters, hearing a merchant speak of how freely one of my characters spent her money, or hearing wanderers tell tales of a previous character’s strength and heroics never gets old.
Your choices also determine the ending you’ll receive. In all my playthroughs, I’ve experienced four different endings, and I know there are more out there. Will you defeat the Sun King? Will you charm him into running away with you forever? Or will you find the moon and bring balance back to Issaria?
Many, Many Stories
Moon Hunters is a very quick game, so it benefits from the legend-building aspect greatly. You can see these changes taking effect over the course of one evening of playtime. The first night I began my journey, I played through from start to finish four times, and my longest playthrough so far took about an hour and a half. It’s nice knowing you can start it up and see your legend to its conclusion in one sitting; and with a local multiplayer option (four players is the max), it’s easy to bust out the game at a family gathering or with a group of friends and play through it all in one sitting. Even if you don’t quite make it through, the game auto-saves at the beginning of each area and allows you to pick up right there next time you want to play. Plus, with multiple save files you can have a game going with your friends on the weekends, but still have the ability to go solo on a new adventure throughout the week.
The multiplayer is a great aspect as well, since more players means enemies are easier to take down, and you can freely revive fallen comrades, which extends your day of adventuring instead of taking you straight to camp, like dying in a single-player playthrough would.
A World of Wonder
The art of Moon Hunters is what first caught my eye when I came across the game. The maps are beautifully detailed, especially for being randomized, and the style of the terrain is heavily reminiscent of Golden Sun. The character art is gorgeous as well, with all seven classes being exceptionally well-designed. The NPC art doesn’t stand out quite as much, but it isn’t boring by any means. All of the other art is also well done — the opening scenes and the loading screen art are particularly breathtaking.
The music matches the tone of the game to a tee and is also a delight to listen to in smaller doses. Though the longer tracks are beautiful and immersive, spending too much time in one area does start to wear on you when the soundtrack loop is relatively short.
I’d like to make special mention of the narrator’s voice, as it’s a perfect match for the story she’s telling, which made me feel guilty every time I went to skip the intro and other voiced storytelling scenes.
Running Just Shy of Smooth
One of my biggest gripes with Moon Hunters lies in the longer and inconsistent load times. One day could end and it will have you picking a new area to explore all in under 15 seconds, while the next day could take up to a full minute to load up after completing the previous one. I couldn’t find any reason for this to be occurring, and more than once it got on my nerves when I was particularly interested in carrying forward with my adventure or in the middle of a particularly large swarm of enemies. Outside of that, the game definitely hiccups, both visually and audibly when there are plenty of enemies and attack animations on screen, and also when you first start in a larger area. It’s usually quick, and goes away after a few seconds, but it’s still not something I wanted to see happen.
The End is Nigh
At the end of the day, I enjoyed my experience with Moon Hunters immensely. It isn’t perfect, but it’s gorgeous, extremely unique and fun to play. Building my own legends over the last week has been an incredible adventure that I’m excited to continue. Kitfox Games has a great little title here, and it’s clear that a lot of love and talent went into making it. I highly recommend Moon Hunters for any Switch owner looking to boost their indie library.Leave a Comment
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: October 26, 2017
Categories: Party, Multiplayer, Role-Playing, Action
Publisher: Kitfox Games
Developer: Kitfox Games