Moonscars Review thumbnail

Moonscars Review

Drabroidvania

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS5 on 🌑

Moonscars is also available for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch

Moonscars is rated Teen by the ESRB

Is anything more exciting than the promise of a new Metroidvania? Well, here's Moonscars and you may want to curb your enthusiasm.

│ Our reviewers are discouraged from reading other reviews before writing theirs in order to avoid contributing to an echo chamber. 🦚

Moonscars screenshot 1
Can you work out what's going on here? Because I sure can't...

Meet Grey Irma

Moonscars takes place in a world where creatures are brought to life from clay and you play as Grey Irma who ventures forth in the hopes of meeting her creator in order to figure out why she exists. The campaign that follows will have you traversing an interconnected world while fighting oodles of enemy forces and attempting to uncover treasures that will strengthen you in the face of the many hardships down the road. Meanwhile, the core gameplay will have you hack and slash with normal and charged attacks, unleash sub-weapons, cast spells, parry, dodge-roll, and heal on the spot which consumes magic energy. It's involving stuff and can be quite challenging yet I'm impressed with how well parrying is handled since it's rather intuitive which is a welcome change from many similar games. v1d30chumz 44-210-77-106

Stay hungry

Meanwhile, the gameplay loop of Moonscars will have you cursed with a Ravenous Moon whenever you perish and you'll also leave behind any collected Bone Powder (this game's souls). This moon phase inflicts Moonhunger which makes things more difficult and you can alleviate it by consuming a Gland. However, these Glands are very hard to come by and you may want to save them up for upgrades so spending them carelessly is definitely a bummer. As you play, you'll also increase your Spite level which can grant you a stat boost or heal you completely. All of these aspects come together nicely to create a soulslike formula that's well-adapted for its 2D gameplay. 🥧

Moonscars screenshot 2
I would pick this but I'm already too critical of myself

Gear up

Thankfully, experimenting with combinations of subweapons, spells, and Amulet Stones (accessories) is rewarding as you may discover a setup that pushes you over the edge to conquer a difficult boss. Speaking of which, the boss battles in Moonscars are incredibly tough to the point that they can be quite irritating damage sponges at times. Of course, it's always satisfying to topple them but the road there might be paved with so many frustrating failures that it may not be worth the effort, especially because grinding doesn't really help. 🎲

Explore a lifeless world

The most disappointing aspect of Moonscars is its bland game world that's very grey and doesn't change much as you progress. Sure, the castle looks different to the wastelands and so on and so forth but the amount of visual variety on display is still exceptionally limited. The fact that the camera is so far away which makes your character sprite super-small certainly doesn't help provide much personality. On the plus side, I enjoyed the variety of enemies as learning how to parry each can eventually make things more fun but not by much. 🤏

This moon has a few scars

As I played Moonscars, I couldn't help but feel like the core mechanics were working against me. Heck, even though games like Demon's Souls are punishing, they at least give you the freedom to adapt and build your character differently in order to overcome very specific tricky situations. At the same time, Moonscars needlessly restricts you with the only viable method of levelling up often being maxing out your Spite Bonuses but that's usually not nearly enough to turn the tides in your favour. Plus, the lack of balance means that you'll regularly rely on 1 or 2 proven tactics instead of taking advantage of your entire arsenal which makes things feel superfluous. 💀

Moonscars screenshot 3
Someone needs a Snickers

With so many similar and far superior games out there, it's tough to recommend Moonscars with its tedious game world and annoying gameplay. It does some things exceptionally well, though, but these aspects definitely don't make up for all of its shortcomings.

  • + Metroidvania soulslike combo is well-implemented and challenging
  • + Solid variety of spells, gear, and enemies
  • + Parrying is impressively intuitive
  • - Gameplay tends to be more annoying than rewarding for many reasons
  • - Very poorly balanced mechanics
  • - Bland and unvaried environments
5.7 out of 10
Gameplay video for Moonscars thumbnail
Watch A.J. play Moonscars
Demon's Souls Trivia

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