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Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: Moon Chronicles Episode 2, 3, and 4

The invincible space marine is strong with this one...
Renegade Kid has dropped all four of the remaining episodes of Season 1 of Moon Chronicles, and that's nice. However,  the initial plan for Moon Chronicles was that the episodes would have slow, serialized trickles over the entire year, leaving us with an eventual sense of anticipation for a Season 2, which continues the adventures of our hero. Does this full release conflict with the episodic nature of the game itself? Time to find out.

Also, if you're curious about my review of Moon Chronicles Episode 1, you can find it.here.

PROS:

-Engaging story that doesn't allow the player satisfaction of knowing every answer.

-A hefty inventory for the player to utilize different play styles and approaches, and a variety of unique challenges

-A substantial amount of content, even post-story. Well-worth the price.

CONS:

-Episodic nature doesn't really work.

-Soundtrack is a bit uninspiring, especially for a 3DS title

THOUGHTS:

I doubt I have much more to say about Moon Chronicles than what was already said when it was initially released, but I do have some thoughts about the episodes, controls, and whatnot. First, I would like to retract my statement about the shaky aiming from my last review- as it turns out, that's only really an issue with the Super Rifle, which is a man-made weapon so it kind of makes sense.

Moon Chronicles does a pretty satisfying job of being a lite-horror experience. The awfulness of what is actually going on under the Moon is a good revelation, even though it happens around the mid-point of the game and you are expected to wait until the shock moment in Episode 4, which loses its impact when most of the data logs allude to what is happening long before that. More interesting is the fact that one particular secret is kept unanswered the entire time, though it's strongly alluded towards by some data logs, there's never an absolute answer, which begs the question- is this something we'll see in Season 2?

And truthfully, that's where the episodic nature of the game comes into play. As a gamer who likes to burn through titles quickly and without remorse, I purchased the "season pass" of Moon Chronicles immediately, which made my total sum of money spent on the title around twenty bucks. And don't get me wrong, the game is worth that much money. It definitely is. But it would probably be worth more (or, at least, buying each episode separately would have been justified) if each episode had been released at a separate time. As it stands, each one does a very good job at raising the stakes and creating a tension-based atmosphere. But altogether, they are a solid package that has a few twists and turns here and there. Nothing pressures you to buy the next episode, unless you don't want a deal. And that is where Nintendo, or perhaps Renegade Kid, failed to exploit the concept of an episodic release. During episodes 2 and 3 of Moon Chronicles, I was wholly invested in what was going to happen next- the future, and the gameplay, seemed unsure, and though it ended up being more of the the same (mind you, that's not a bad thing), I would have been much more enraptured if the game was episodically released, anticipating each new chapter.

Consumerism aside, the entirety of Moon Chronicles is a very solid experience. Though Renegade Kid's issue with "repeating the same boss" continues here, it's varied enough to give it a free pass because they do put some effort into the in-between bosses. The level design, while sometimes a bit repetitive, always feels fresh because of the interesting combinations of drone-activity and shooting that the player is tasked with. Though there's only two central mechanics, Moon Chronicles does a decent job at mixing them up enough to never feel stale- and while some boss battles feel more engaging than others, the sense of progression remains, pushing you forward to your next objective. While the combat is often right in your face, the variety of weapons allows you to approach combat in a number of different ways- although some weapons feel more broken than others, they all have a role in the game.

With the addition of unlockable missions to add more playtime (seriously, the optional missions are rough), and three different difficulty levels to overcome, Moon Chronicles feels like a game worthy of its twenty dollar price- but though the 3D adds to the experience, it doesn't really look like one. The game's aesthetic feels more like a quick port to the eShop than a full-fledged release, but if you're willing to overlook that, and the sometimes lackluster music, you'll find a game rife with great FPS play, which is not something often found on the 3DS eShop.

Final Verdict: Though Moon Chronicles has wasted potential in the form of its episodic release schedule, it's still a fantastic title, peppered with a variety of challenges and approaches, that and eShop user should purchase- should they be fans of first-person shooters. This isn't going to convince you otherwise.

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