Review: Moon Diver
From the mind that brought us Strider, comes Moon Diver. It combines frantic hack and slash action along with platforming and some RPG elements along with an overall focus on coop multiplayer. That enough genre for you?
This clash of genres makes for an interesting time. Starting the game up you’re given the option to play locally or online. I gave local a shot first. When you begin, you have the choice to pick one of four characters. There are red, blue, yellow and green armored characters to choose from, each one has a few differences, like starting abilities and stat progression. I chose the blue one, Hitori, and started the game. The story goes like this; we’re in the 22nd century, and inanimate objects are brought to life. The specially trained ninja fighting unit known as the Moon Divers are called upon by humanity to save the day. You’ll have a cut scene between each level made of a strange mix of the Moon Diver’s official art, background pictures and text. Let’s put it this way, I didn’t stick around for the story.
Each character has a normal slash attack, a dash, a charge attack, and up to 60 unlockable “Moonsault Combinations.” The normal slash can take out most enemies, but sometimes I noticed that it just didn’t feel like I was hitting anything. It’s not obvious when you’re doing damage and when you’re not. Before each level you can choose your favorite four Moonsault Combo to map to the d-pad. They vary from buffs to offensive and defensive magic. Finding the right mix of what works for you is important, and as you find improved versions of these Moonsault Combo your character can do more damage. Some are better than others, the red slash moves are integral. Using this move will allow you to snatch up more kills than your teammates. One gripe that Chris noticed was the difference between the abilities you could just activate and the ones that require a 3 second cinema to perform. One of my moves would freeze the game, go to a black screen, and then show slashes going across the darkness. It would say the move’s goofy name (most are combinations of funky names and a weird noun) and then finally do its desired effect. I decided to be a dick and see how many times it would let me spam this move during a boss fight. When we got the boss down to about 1/8th left, I simply started mashing circle. I was able to do that move about 8 times in a row, thus stopping the game for around 24 seconds. These types of moves tend to break down the flow of the game, even when not spammed. Some of these abilities allow for multiple players to receive the buff of the Moonsault Combo. Doing so requires players to hit the circle button while the other player is summoning the move, an onscreen indication is shown so you aren’t left guessing. This was nice when I could heal my other teammates. So, while they can be annoying, they’re essential to the game.
The graphics tend to be rather dark. By the time I reached the later levels, I was tired of the same dark and dismal settings that my team and I were running through. I get it; it’s the apocalypse, that doesn’t mean everything has to look the same. While the characters look fluid, there is one major problem with the game when playing multiplayer. For some reason, this game didn’t include any palette swaps of characters. This means when playing multiplayer, it was possible to have 4 different people all using Hitori, the blue character. Because of the drop in, drop out multiplayer, a great feature by the way, I can’t tell you how many times I lost track of my character during one play through. All that would be required to fix this would be a palette swap. Why not? The music is a strange mix of techno stuff. I really enjoyed the first level’s theme, but the rest of it was forgettable. There is some creepy ass children’s laughter somewhere in the background of the title theme. Kinda weirded me out…
Each level is made up of numerous segments, each with their own weird ass title. They get especially ridiculous towards the end game. One segment was called “WHAT IS YOUR ENEMY’S NAME” and then the following segment was “AND WHAT IS YOUR NAME [sic] LOL.” Throughout the game’s 12 stages, you’ll encounter 4 bosses; each reused a couple of times except for the final boss. Some are unfair, and can 1 hit KO your entire team. You’ll want to consider grinding a bit and definitely tackle these with friends. I died so many cheap deaths in this one, I felt like a dead weight to my team towards the end. In multiplayer when you die, you get covered in these pink rings. Your teammates have 10 seconds to break the rings off of you and you get to come back with half your health. If you play single player, you die once, you’re dead. This is damning when you take a few steps too far and a laser one hit kills you. Yeah, lasers are the bane of my existence, and eventually the game classically conditions you like Pavlov’s dogs to do a freeze spell the second you see one. I feel Chris and I got through the game only because two other people joined us who were twice our level. Though I beat the whole game online, I received no trophies, so be warned about that. (Editors note: Chris here, I was hosting the game and did receive all trophies from completing stages.)
After beating this one, I’m most likely done playing it. It’s not the worst time, but the endgame really seemed to out stay its welcome. There is certainly room to come back and level up my old character, or start leveling up one of the other three. I recognize this game might not be for me, but that doesn’t make it bad. Check out the demo and go from there.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Character Differences
- Frantic Gameplay
What I Dislike:
- No Palette Swaps
- Game is too hard by yourself