GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon Early Access Impressions
GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon was initially unveiled with little to no fanfare during one of Nintendo’s indie-focused directs. Even then, it was only during a sizzle reel, barely showcasing three seconds of footage before skipping to the next game. I was quite surprised: a brand new Konami game being labeled as an indie and barely being given promotional screen time? Well, the mere seconds the game was on was already enough to pique my interest and look for a proper trailer online, and by golly did that thing wow me.
The surprisingly lengthy trailer showcased the game as being a fast-paced action platformer, featuring an ukiyo-e art style and a soundtrack comprised of heavy metal with shamisens. It showed tons of different yokai to kill and more blood than your average fight against Skarlet in Mortal Kombat 11. It ended with the announcement of it being released for Switch in 2022 and PC in 2021… in Early Access state. I’m not going to lie, reading “Early Access” made me sigh in frustration a little bit, but I still wanted to give whatever was ready in the game’s build a look. And I’m glad I did, because, shockingly enough, GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is amazing.
If you have little to no idea of what this game is about because of how little screen time it was given during that Direct, I don’t blame you. Luckily, I’m here to help you out. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is a soft reboot/sequel of a Famicom game I had never heard of prior to reading about it on Wikipedia. A cult hit that was, supposedly, one of the progenitors of the Metroidvania genre. This “sequel”, however, is best described as a mix between a metroidvania and a roguelite. In fact, this game is even best described as “pretty much like Dead Cells“, and that is not a bad thing at all.
The (randomized) “level design” and combat reminded me a lot of Dead Cells: move around a procedurally generated Metroidvania map, collect new weapons and upgrades, until you find a boss at the end of it. You will probably not going to reach it in your first try because your stats are crap, your weapons haven’t been upgraded, and so on. Fortunately, being a roguelite (not roguelike) means you can retain some crafting items and improve your offensive capabilities in between runs or after you die. And you’ll die a lot.
The combat is excellent, being stupidly fast-paced but with a high learning curve. It retains some obvious influences from Dark Souls, namely the dodging mechanic (translated into 2D, of course), as well as the limited amount of healing items given to you at the start of each new run. There are tons of weapons to collect, both primary (usually a short range weapon, like a sword, a club, or even a parasol) and secondary (bows and the sort).
What I love the most about this game is pretty obvious: it’s its art style. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is nonsensically gorgeous. It’s a moving ukiyo-e painting, and for those who don’t know what that means, just think of “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” painting in gaming form, with a crap ton of enemies, blood, and guts. It runs surprisingly well on less powerful hardware, so I just assume that the minimum specs stated in the game’s Steam page were massively exaggerated. To top it off, the game looks as gorgeous as it sounds. It’s not as overly metal as the trailer might have suggested, but it’s equally drowning in shamisen licks. Things get a lot heavier during boss battles, though.
GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is still in Early Access, meaning that the developers are still working on more levels and bosses, as well as feedback from the community. There is one thing I hope they decide to fix later down the line: while I love the game’s combat, its progression system is really slow and demotivating. It takes a lot of resources to upgrade your character, and given the game’s combination of difficulty and low item spawn ratio, you need to do a few full runs before being able to acquire enough materials for any sort of improvement on your build. I really hope Konami and GuruGuru listen to the community’s complains regarding the subject matter, as they are being posted almost in unison.
Small issues aside, while I was expecting to enjoy GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon from what little had been presented in its trailer, I certainly wasn’t expecting to love its combat and overall design. If the developers manage to fix the clunky progression system and add a few more areas and enemies before the 1.0 release, then I wouldn’t be exaggerating when i state that this might end up being one of the best games of 2022.
An Early Access code for GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon has been provided by the publisher.