Tuesday, September 4

Review: Moonfall Ultimate [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Setting sights on classics when putting together marketing materials can be a smart way to pull people in. Of course, getting people’s attention with the promise of a new experience that resonates with elements of an older one has its risks as well, particularly since that then begs you to make direct comparisons between them. Unfortunately, even without directly contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of Moonfall Ultimate to the classic Golden Axe it suffers a bit under heavy scrutiny, and sadly given the choice between them the classic would be the clear winner.

Consistent at the general feel level with the arcade classic, Moonfall Ultimate is a side-scrolling sort of brawler/slasher, but with a few different classes to choose from. Working from a purely melee angle you can be the tank-like Vanguard, the magic-wielding Elementalist, or the more versatile Shadow. Each of these classes play a bit differently and have skill trees that, with experience, will help differentiate them even further. If you’re able to play with a friend that would be ideal since pairing someone who’s able to use ranged attacks with someone occupying the enemies doing up-close damage leads to much more success. Unfortunately as a solo outing it’s not terribly well-balanced and more often than not leads to frustration and pretty generic and unexciting combat.

While the game is reasonably attractive visually, if a bit on the muddy side, its uninspired action really brings the experience down. Though you can block attacks without an ability to parry or counter-attack there’s generally no real incentive to do so. The controls are plain odd, mapping your attack and block to the shoulder buttons, picking things or advancing to the plus button, and using your skills is tied weirdly to the main buttons in a way I’m not even sure I can explain. While each of your special attacks has its own animation they typically lack any real punch and aside from knocking enemies down or back a bit in general you don’t feel their impact at all. The result is just a lot of generic swiping back and forth until someone falls most of the time, punctuated by a big but no more impactful skill attack or two. Along the way you’ll slowly acquire new weapons and gear but while they may differ visually and vary your attack in small ways they still fail to inspire excitement.

All in all Moonfall Ultimate just isn’t a lot of fun as its most critical feature, its combat, is too dull and uninspired to solicit many thrills at all. Contrasting with the classic Golden Axe, which it set its sights on, there isn’t a flow to your attacks and the action simply isn’t dynamic enough. Engaging in an armored slap fight of sorts where you can’t feel the impact of your mighty blows really sucks the life out of the experience. Paired with a solo experience that is more frustrating than ultimately rewarding and it’s tough to recommend, though at least if you can play with a friend there’s greater hope of it being a better experience simply because then you could enjoy some mildly tactical play.

Score: 5

  • Some varied monsters that look relatively cool
  • The skill tree for each class leaves room for experimentation and a different feel on subsequent runs
  • All 3 classes have a different feel to them, and pairing melee with ranged in co-op mode is effective

  • The bread and butter crux of the experience, the combat, lacks in impact and excitement
  • Played solo there can be unusual difficulty spikes
  • The controls are mapped in a way that feels weird and doesn’t make much sense