Thursday, August 30, 2018

Momodora - Thoughts

There's a small, quiet quaintness to Momodora that I wasn't really expecting. The first time you play an indie game by an unfamiliar designer, it can run the gamut from lovably peppy (Joakim Sandberg) to oddly fascinating (Jason Rohrer) to downright oblique (Stephen Levelle). On the surface, Momodora is a very clearly a love letter to Cave Story, but after reaching the credits, it... well, is very similar to Cave Story—but focused on a more direct, arcadey experience.

... And that's about all there is to the game.

Which is fine!—short experiences act as nice breathers between larger titles (like say, Octopath Traveler and Wasteland 2). Plus, Momodora's gauntlet of stages & secret treasures were plenty enjoyable on their own. The controls are snappy and J.W. Hendricks' score is both catchy and surprisingly deep (check out Stage 5). The game can be a bit tricky at times with its enemy placement, but it's nothing that a simple retry won't remedy. If there's one thing I feel "iffy" on, it's that I wish the hitbox of the enemies/projectiles/player character were just a few pixels smaller, as I often felt like I was safe from the arc of a boulder's throw... but I clearly wasn't. It's not that big of a deal though—it's a minuscule problem in relation to the size and price of the game (it's free, by the way).

One of the aspects that really stands out to me—besides the intense Cave Story aesthetic—is that Momodora flips its gameplay on its head early on in the adventure. At first you're given a swift-striking leaf to melee enemies with (it's a tremendous weapon!) but soon you'll find both a gun and boomerang, which cements your domination over the entirety of the x-axis. rdein wisely designs around this by placing plenty of nasty projectile-oriented foes above and below you, but it's still weird to go from playing the game somewhat cautiously with a melee weapon to a guns-blazing style where you can obliterate unsuspecting foes through walls. There's multiple weapons you can switch between (as well as unimpressive shield ability), but it doesn't change the game nearly as much as the leaf -> gun transition.

Momodora is a fun excursion for those in need of a platforming appetizer. Though I wasn't motivated to sniff out all the hidden treasures, I was plenty amused by the sharp level design and varied ocular opponents (every enemy is an eyeball of some sort—very cute!) Momodora was nice—tiny, humble, and nice. I'm very interested to see how the series develops from here, given that rdein has shown that he has the chops to make a decent platformer.

Also look at this guy!:

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