[Review] Moonshades – Nintendo Switch


Inspired by dungeons and dragons

Back in 1987, young gamers would stumble across what would become one of the most influential games of that time. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but Demon’s Forge sure was a lot of fun. For the uninitiated DF was a dungeon-crawling RPG with a heavy emphasis on storytelling. 30+ years later and everything old is new again. The rise in popularity of retro gaming has also brought with it the rebirth of dormant gaming genres. Moonshades, from Developer Viktor Domonyi is a return to the honest days of exploration and tried and true trial and error. How does it stack up in today’s market? Join us as we traverse the dungeons for this review.


Moonshades is a no-frills first-person dungeon crawler with its roots squarely planted in the 80s. Players familiar with the classic Bards Tale games or even the early Phantasy Star (in dungeons) will feel right at home. While the eShop description promises epic quests, dangerous monsters, and treasures beyond your wildest dreams. What we have instead is a very serviceable title that doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. Thankfully, MS succeeds in that regard. The story is handled via on-screen text which is easily readable in both docked and handheld mode.


Visually, Moonshades is solid

No, it will not win any awards nor will it leave any real lasting images with you. But what it is here is crisp and well-realised. The simple lighting effects help add a level of dread and fear as you walk around corners blind to the horrors awaiting you around each bend. Your character is limited to a portrait on the UI so that leaves the NPCs and monsters as your eye candy. The static worlds have very little life breathed into them by the stationary NPCs that will aid you along your journey. Granted the blacksmith is at least hammering away but every other interaction felt lifeless.


Most NPCs offer trade which is important as you upgrade your equipment and look for materials need for crafting in the Magic Forge. Additionally, most characters also offer quests. These quests not only offer more XP to level up your 2 characters, but also push the narrative forward. The game does offer a brief tutorial and in-game guide, but the majority of this game is handled via player self-discovery. The very design nature of this title makes this route actually successful. Instead of feeling hampered by the lack of knowledge, the opposite is true. Players will often find themselves experimenting with different actions in order to uncover new spells, weapons, or buffs. Weapon interactions are pretty lacklustre but do serve their purpose as do the cast spells. Enemy variety is ok but can get repetitive as enemies respawn anytime you reenter a floor.


Audio-wise, Moonshades is decent

The backing score adequately presents a level of mystery and danger while never taking over the scene. The lack of voice acting is not a problem but would have offered another level of immersion missing from the title in its current form. The accompanying sound effects, also do the job just fine without really standing out. Some spells do sound better than others but nothing on offer here will be memorable once you’ve logged off after a late night of adventuring.



The controls follow a similar pattern

What’s here is fine and works… once you figure it out. The game does not do a good job of explaining how things work from a control standpoint. That being said, once the player realises that LT and RT control each of your two characters, filling up your hotkeys becomes a way of life. When in combat you can melee using the corresponding trigger or activate any of your actions or spells on your menu.

Additionally, the game does allow you to enter a pseudo paused state where you can register multiple attacks/actions in a turn to avoid twitch input on the fly. Those familiar with KOTOR will find this very reminiscent. Crafting via the Magic Forge is one of the highly touted features in MS. The execution is interesting, to say the least. Located in the Blacksmith shop just in front of your quick travel portal, forge allows players to merge collected runes with various other items. Status effects, boosts, and increased levels can be added to your equipment making your travels less tedious as you will constantly be grabbing loot. However, the vast majority tends to be useless… or we have yet to find the proper recipe (they can be found, bought, or given).



Final Words

Moonshades did not set out to reinvent the wheel. In fact it could be argued it didn’t bring anything new to the table. That being said however would take away from the fact that at its core the game is fun. The $17.99/£14.39 price tag may turn some people off and that is understandable. What is here does not have the depth to compete with big boys when it comes to RPG’s. However, those who grew up playing games similar to this will find instant gratification in this nostalgic trip back into the dungeons. Keep your eyes on the sales list this holiday season.


star 7

Review code provided

Platform: Mobile, Nintendo
Release Date: 27/08/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Role-Playing, Adventure, Action
Developer: Baldricksoft, Viktor Domonyi
Publisher: Baldricksoft, Viktor Domonyi
Website: www.moonshadesgame.com
Twitter: @moonshadesgame
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop

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