A Game Review by Greg Dabkey
Game – Moon Chronicles (3DS Download)
ESRB Rating: ‘T’ – Teen
Release Date: 5/15/2014
Obtained – Courtesy of Renegade Kid
One of the biggest parts of video games is the amount of value you receive from your experience with the game. Did you like the experience for the offered price? Price and game experience go hand and hand to determine if the experience matches the price of the game. Sadly enough, I did not deem the initial episode of Moon Chronicles to be valuable based on what was offered.
To start, the player gets four chapters with an optional fifth if they manage to find the hidden items. The fact that there are four entire chapters is misleading – two of them involved exploring the limited world and getting to the next area, while the third was just a boss fight and escape sequence. In the remaining chapter the player explores a long sequence of rooms, find secrets, gather power ups, and even fight a boss. The total run time of game time was about one hour and fifteen minutes, with forty-five minutes in this one extensive chapter. The player can customize the difficulty level prior to starting, so upon completion the player can try a more difficult run through if they wish. I did manage to complete the game on the highest difficulty setting with minimal restarts. While the bosses become a little harder, the experience is mostly the same but with additional enemies.
The story is very interesting, following Major Kane as he explores a hidden side of the Moon where passageways lead into the middle of the moon. His crew members go missing and he goes off looking for answers. While searching he comes across what appears to be an alien base located inside the moon. The story is very unique as it involves finding a hidden alien base filled with their technology and wanting to go exploring to see and experience. One of the main things I did notice was that the cut scenes did not provide captions, so those playing without sound do not really understand what is going on. The rest of the game has on screen text for modules and additional communications with the general. The value in the story is pretty solid; however the player will need to purchase the rest of the story with three additional parts at $1.99 each. The story expands as Major Kane uses the various computer modules and finding required items. It is well-executed as the storytelling evolves while the player is exploring.
The player controls Major Kane in a first person perspective. You basically go off exploring, entering rooms and searching for your missing crewmembers. It is not an open world though, simply a linear path. The main weapon you find has endless ammo and one other weapon can be found within the episode, but has limited ammunition. The player can also pick up additional health and ammo clips, in addition to the health pieces dropped by enemies. Perhaps the coolest part was controlling the droid to do additional exploring. This little droid was armed with a stunner and could only access small caverns and tunnels. The player is able to switch between their character and the droid by selecting a weapon or the droid in the inventory. The player is unable to crouch/crawl or jump – which helps add a unique aspect to the game, and makes exploration more enjoyable. This droid takes care of crouching aspect as you are able to explore small spaces. The gameplay feels pretty limited having only two guns and a one droid to control when more could have been added for the initial episode.
The controls are mostly the same as Metroid Prime Hunters, where the player uses the circle pad to move and either the stylus or the face buttons to adjust the camera/aim. L and R are used to shoot and do various actions like opening doors or activating switches. The control pad is used to cycle through weapons, open up the inventory and reload weapons that require ammo. The controls felt very solid and responsive and seemed to fit the play style perfectly. The controls can also be customized for left-handed players, or even to switch the shooting/action buttons for both left and right-handed players. I do wonder if motion controls were considered for the camera control, since it may have helped turn the player in the proper direction a little quicker, and opening up the idea to use the face buttons for additional customization. I found no issues with the controls as everything worked smoothly and provided an excellent value having numerous options available.
The graphics do not offer anything spectacular, but I found everything well designed. The various rooms have unique design, and on the surface of the moon it was incredible to see planet earth in the background. The enemies consisted of various drone types, which in future episodes I would imagine seeing numerous other enemy types. The 3D effects did not really add much to the experience, but it did make it more enjoyable to play while turned on. However, the cut scenes do not utilize the 3D effects though which was a little jarring. The game does run at 60 fps which enhanced the experience.
The music and sound also did not offer anything worth keeping the sound on. There was one basic track that is light on different tones. I enjoyed the sound effects as the walking sound, shooting sound and the droid’s movement sounds all sounded realistic. The sound effect for the rooms with fans made those rooms stand out above the others. Additional musical tracks would have been nice to add to the experience.
Final Score: 6.0 out of 10
Gamers are looking for value with their purchase, and for entry fee of $8.99 + more for additional episodes; I don’t think I could recommend the first episode containing chapters 1-4 at this price. While I understand the idea of episodic pricing and feel the additional episodes are priced well, for the introduction to the future episodes, the entry price is pretty steep. With extremely limited amount of time of gameplay offered per chapter, it is a difficult decision to invest in the unique aspects of the game. To me, the episodes will expand on this awesome story, introduce more pieces of the alien base with the same great controls, mediocre graphics and sound – but at the current price for the complete package seems a little on the steep side, considering the amount of time needed per episode (assuming that future episodes will be about the same in length). I would still recommend this game to fans of FPS games has it is incredibly fun experience, however with various excellent 2D games (SteamWorld Dig, Mutant Mudds, Mighty Switch Force) offering a complete experience lasting longer than eight to ten hours at a cheaper price, it is hard to justify the value received in Moon Chronicles episode one with more additional episodes available later, for an additional cost. If you can get past the minimal amount of gameplay, the game is mostly enjoyable.
+ intriguing story
+ solid gameplay
+ excellent sound effects
+ numerous control options
- only about 2 hours worth of content, without replaying
- no 3D for cut scenes
- no voice acting for in-game story extensions
- minimal music tracks / variety