Moonfall Ultimate’s premise held promise to me. It’s an action RPG with structure that harkens to side-scrolling beat-em-ups with three separate classes to choose from with distinct powers and abilities and various weapons with different stat boosts and status effects as you cut down enemies and bosses in each level.
I began my journey as a mage, whose skill tree included four different elemental spells. From the outset, there were concerning signs - movement that felt slippery and imprecise, input delay in pressing attack, and a tutorial with sincere danger of dying from the enemies chipping away health at an alarming rate. I learned two things very quickly: enemies do not flinch from attacks unless your abilities or weapons specifically have that as an attribute, and when playing solo, you will be kiting as small a group of enemies as possible in order to limit the threat of death.
Death is especially impactful because you have only one life. Once you die, you have to start the mission from the beginning. This was especially grating because monsters require a Herculean effort to take down, and every encounter put me to an inch of my life. Potions dropped infrequently, often making me rely on the slow health regeneration to replenish before soldiering on. These fits of start-and-stop between mobs turned the mere act of playing the game into a slog, putting the controller down for several 30 to 60 second intervals.
Another aspect you may not come to appreciate until you encounter a truly bad example of it is voice acting and general spell-check errors. Human NPCs that you communicate with all have a brief greeting voiceover accompanied by their dialogue. The text is hit-or-miss as to it tonally fitting with what’s occurring, but the voice acting is uninspired. Those greetings don’t come across as grizzled warriors or worn souls, but rather someone at their desk who was in a rush to check off a box. Additionally, I saw a handful of small, strange grammatical errors. The most striking one was early on, where an NPC is simply named “?Amadeus.” Yes, the question mark is part of what they displayed as his name.
After soldiering through the single-player experience, I enlisted my spouse to give the co-op a try. Miraculously, the pace improved to lightning-fast, flying through the intro levels and leveling up briskly. When she died, a tombstone appeared and I could resurrect her by swinging a weapon at it until it broke. We laughed together engaging an NPC as they blurted out “Hello, sir!” as if being greeted inside a store rather than addressing a fellow soldier, and showing her my old friend, ?Amadeus. That fleeting moment of fun was solitary, and not indicative of the overall experience I left with. Moonfall Ultimate has the framework for what could have been a better game if given more time to iron-out its strange difficulty scaling, slippery and unresponsive controls, and oddly enough, spell-checking. With a partner and expectations set properly, it could be a suitable rainy-day game, but I cannot recommend it to a solitary soldier.