Monday, February 13, 2017

Review #373: Moon Diver

 It's a Square-Enix game, so of course it's gotta be presumptuous!
 You could say that I'm a bit of a fan of Strider, particularly Strider II. Moon Diver looked right up my alley, fast-paced, arcadey run-and-slash flashy gameplay. It was the first Digital-only game I felt like I had to had. It was also a disappointing mess that took me around 4 years of playing it sporadically and casually to finish.

 The game offers a 12-level romp as well as a 'chain-kill mode'(Free DLC update) and four playable characters at a base level, as well as Score attack and fifth, overpowered, character as paid DLC. The DLC extras feel a bit... cheap, both as ways to nickel and dime the player(Even if they only amount to two dollars) as well as the overpowered extra character considering how hard the game is.
 The game is fast-paced, that much is true, but it's also very, very repetitive. Enemies take a few hits to go down, and the feedback from your hits isn't satisfying at all. All five characters play more or less the same, but they have different stat growths as they level up, but all of them have the same exact spell-pool to pick from when setting up before a mission, so picking a character is mostly aesthetics. Speaking of stats, every time you level up you'll get a single stat point to invest on HP, Mana and Attack, but, honestly, except magic, increasing my HP and Attack power gave negligible results: Enemies would still take quite a few hits before going down, bosses still had to have their HP chipped away and I would go down in more or less the same few hits.

 The game is meant to be played by four players at the same time. I played the entire game as a co-op duo, and on the latter stages we had a bad, bad time. Anything short of four players will result in a very grindy, unfun experience. It's not a matter of skill when you are peppered with bullets and lasers left, right, front and center and enemies take so many hits to go down. We had to resort to cheeseing the game by exploiting respawns. And the last level is an absolute nightmare that has you fighting every single boss again while going through the same repeated areas. Disgusting.
 Level design is also pretty bad. It's as if they came up with the levels before deciding on how the game would play, as it's pretty easy for your characters to accidentally cling onto walls or ledges you didn't mean to. A game like this should have simple, responsive controls, but oh so many times it felt as if I was fighting the controls as well as the level design. It's not a good game.

 I did not like Moon Diver. I didn't even have fun writing about it. At least I can commend the developers on trying to imitate such a fantastic game as Strider 2, as there aren't many games like it. But the game is plagued with bad level design, clunky controls, repetitive and unsatisfying gameplay and a very unfair difficulty setting. My advice? Stick to Strider 2, stick to Strider, stick to Osman, but forget about Moon Diver.
 2.5 out of 10

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