We all saw it, or didn’t see it we should say. The moon didn’t rise and we have to find out why.
One evening in late fall the people of Mercuria came together to watch the moon rise as they had for centuries. The moon was the source of all magic in the world and the inhabitants worshiped it daily. On this fateful night the moon did not rise and in the midst of sheer panic from the population, four heroes bravely step forward to discover why the moon has stopped rising and to put themselves to a test of will to save Mercuria. Kitfox’s Moon Hunters is a non-linear action adventure inspired by the Zelda series. The choices and discoveries you make unravel the mythology surrounding Mercuria and the mystery of the moon’s disappearance. You barely begin your quest before monsters take over the land. Use your time well Hero and unravel the mystery of the missing moon!
Moon Hunters’ gameplay is distinctive amongst similar titles in the genre. The adventure can be beaten in just over an hour and to understand and unlock all of the story, it’s meant to be beaten several times. Every time it is completed you will find new parts of the story and slowly discover why the moon has not risen by adding star constellations to the sky with each completion. Every time a new journey is started the choices the hero makes determines how much of the story is told. NPCs react differently depending on decisions made by the characters and the time of day. In addition to learning more of the story; new magic, relics, and characters can be unlocked with multiple playthroughs. Every beginning is different and exciting giving Moon Hunters good replay value.
I see the inspiration from Zelda when battling enemies or exploring the map, though where Moon Hunters really shines is it’s local multiplayer. Initially four heroes can be chosen; the Spellblade, Druid, Occulist, and Witch. The protagonists have three abilities each, a light and heavy attack along with a dash or escape move. Fluid attacks and spells keep fighting efficient and Heroes abilities benefit from one another by providing a greater range of battle tactics by combining abilities. The Druid’s slow spell helps the spellblade have a safe escape from bounding enemies or an occulist summon may give the witch time to revive a fallen ally. The adventure moves fast and again, beating it takes just an hour. Moon Hunters entices you with multiple plays to discover what has happened to the moon and the people you are trying to save.
Pixel and hand drawn art fills the action packed adventure making it look great. Pixel art games have hit the market successfully in the recent few years with releases like FEZ and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery. Moon Hunters blends nicely within the genre with its beautiful graphics and artwork for each hero, NPC, and enemy. The visualization of each character really helps flesh out the story and gives the heroes a personality that is hard to relay with just pixel characters. Having the artist work directly with the developers and programmers during vital creation times is essential in creating a well rounded experience for the player. The artist that created these works name is Xin Ran Liu and is the Co-Founder and Art Director of Kitfox Games. His direct involvement with Moon Hunters is evident with the alluring artwork and the personification of the characters he drew.
There are some drawbacks to Moon Hunters that are insignificant compared to rest of what’s offered. As you progress and unlock more relics and characters, it becomes easier with each playthrough taking away from the drive to kill hordes of enemies. Moon Hunters is exciting and fun but needs a difficulty increase option to keep up the challenge as the heroes gain strength. No option to add a CPU companion in single-player lacks the excitement that multiplayer has when playing alone. Lack of teammates will make the hero die faster, as no one can revive you on the field when you fall. The interactions between the characters and NPCs greatly differs when only playing single-player as different interactions will happen if more heroes are present. Both of these issues could be easily fixed with a difficulty adjuster and the ability to have a CPU helper with you.
Moon Hunters’ fast battles, quick completion, and vast story will keep any action adventurer happy for hours. Kitfox brought a unique quality to the genre by making the player replay the story several times to understand what has happened to the moon and Mercuria in general. The choices the heroes face and how NPCs react is shown through great artwork and fluid pixelization. The multiplayer brings all the best elements of Moon Hunters together and gives your friends a reason to get their asses off the couch and come play. In-depth mythology, efficiently fun gameplay, and four person multiplayer makes Moon Hunters an unmistakably great experience.