For all the fuzz retro games get nowadays, it’s baffling so few target the Game Boy for their easy dose of nostalgia power. Moira does, and does it right.
From the hand of Brazil based Onagro Studios, Moira draws from Nintendo’s golden era of platformers: Kirby, Metroid, Kid Dracula, Megaman and more, doing its best to emulate the original console’s capabilities through its graphics, music and even stages.
Moria is a 2D action platformer – puzzles, battles, collectibles and a lot of jumping are the staple, and Moria has plenty of it. While the game is very similar to other titles like Shovel Knight (which take a very close approach for its artistic choices), it manages to differentiate itself thanks to the possibilities provided by its ability system.
In-game, players have the power to “Mimic” enemies – this is, not copying their form but their attacks, enabling you to, say, Mimic a “Sword” out of a Knight, a “Beam” out of a wizard… or a Rat’s body.
These abilities aren’t spammable, though – each blow or shot will deplete the magic bar to some degree, which you’ll have to wait (it refills on time) before keeping up the onslaught. Some abilities are temporal (eg. the ones you Mimic from enemies will stick until you change them for other one), while others are given to you by NPCs/Bosses/maybe items in the future, that you can “collect” and use anytime…
…The real magic, however, is the possibility of combining the abilities you collect into new ones; for example, by combining a Sword + Beam you get a Magic Sword (shoots beams when you dish blows), but by placing the Beam first (Beam + Sword) you get a Beam Boomerang instead. This principle of ability combination, and which ones on which order deciding the final result, lends itself to some impressive gameplay choices with as little as the 3 abilities provided in the Demo.
The combined abilities are not just for show, either; the Demo makes it clear some are vital for progression – like the Bomb Dagger (Bomb + Sword), which once thrown will stick to any wall so you can climb it, and climb, and climb…
After the disappearance of Zepelli, the greatest wizard in the world of Anemos, mysterious events have occurred around the globe, that no longer has its greatest magical mind to take care of everything.
So, is up to Rubick, his not-very.talented disciple, to find a trace of his master while rescuing his friends, confronting the now wicked land his world is turning into, and facing a new and unknown evil force his master was supposed to control.
However, the world of Anemos is still as colorful and vibrant as its people: Rubick’s path is filled with Castles, forests, abandoned factories and Nintendo references, and he will find many companions, both known and new, to aid him on this new quest – which is a relief, since Rubick depends on his Mimic skills to use the strengths of his friends (and even enemies), as his own magic is unreliable at best.
While the team maintained the 8-Bit style, the graphic are very fluid (way more than an original console), but that’s to be expected as it gives a very smooth movement, necessary for more difficult scenarios. However, they did add a nice twist in which you can change the game’s whole pallet a la Game Boy Color, having a nice assortment of styles, from usual black white and grey, to “Winter” or “Graveyard” themes to the fully-colored thing.
The soundtrack is pretty loyal to its intent: not only is the music 8-Bit, it uses the exact instruments Nintendo used for the Game Boy, which is more noticeable in the intro sequence and SFX. All in all the soundtrack seems very energetic and well done, and it does a good job at keeping you alert. The game is a bit too loud, though, so you might want to turn your machine’s volume down as doing so inside the game can get cumbersome.
Moria is honestly one of the gazillion games that looked back, and while it doesn’t offer anything particularly new, it did know what to take from them and took only that. The ability absorption (Kirby), collection (Megaman) and combination to solve puzzles (Metroid) in itself adds a very interesting layer of gameplay, yet it’s very simple to learn and you can test new combinations in a matter of seconds. Stages are small with more emphasis on exploring little crannies than covering vast areas, and Graphics virtue the Game Boy in style while keeping the fluidity the new hardware grants them.
As a result, the game has a very smooth gameplay where you experiment fast and master slow, look out for little secrets and get stuck at reaching a chest until you experiment and discover a new property of your abilities (I tell you, Bomb Daggers are broken, they need to fix them before the final release!).
Moira set to do a thing, and executes it flawlessly without reinventing the wheel. The game has some technical perks to fix (it could be my machine, but animations can lag sometimes and I don’t have this problem with Shovel Knight, the game is a bit too loud compared to others, etc.), but has an excellent overall design and is definitely a title you should keep an eye on if you loves the original Game Boy.
Moira is Steam Greenlit, and will launch June 2017 for Windows, Mac and Linux, and possibly WiiU if the stretch goals are met. It’s Kickstarter ends April 13th, and the team expects to raise 12.000 € to cover develop costs (they explain in the Kickstarter page the why of such a low bar and the use of euros). 8 € will give you access to the full game as early as September 2017.