2D Action Game Moonscars Delivers Creepy Bloodborne-Like Energy In New Release Date Trailer
Moonscars is a challenging 2D action platformer scheduled to launch on September 27.
Black Mermaid's challenging action-platformer Moonscars is built on its mystery, dropping you into its unforgiving and nonlinear 2D world that's filled to the brim with all manner of monsters that are keeping you from the answers you seek. And thanks to a new trailer, we now know Moonscars is coming on September 27.
Moonscars sees you play as Grey Irma, a clayborne (a being fashioned of clay, bone, and ichor) who is driven to track down her creator, the Sculptor, in order to ask him why she and her siblings were forged, why they all are now separated and alone, and why she can't remember those answers for herself. This is clearly a personal quest for Grey--she's hoping to find a purpose for her existence, and whether a being born of alchemy like her can even possess a soul.
And though I do feel for her, I'm far more concerned with learning as to what the hell happened to the world around her. What exactly happened that's left civilization in ruins and seemingly most of its people mutated into monstrous beasts of clay?
"It's that kind of story where hopefully the players will want to discover it as they progress," Moonscars artist and animator Ştefan Semionov told me. "For us personally, it's interesting and cool. It is a bit vague at the start--there are a couple of cutscenes, lots of dialogue."
As seen in the game's trailers, Moonscars' narrative seems to have strong Bloodborne and Hollow Knight energy--the type of experience I want to play all the way through and then maybe be insufferable about for the rest of my life. The lore is meant to be discovered and extrapolated over time, and so the Moonscars team has been keeping details about the game's story purposively vague. Though Semionov did tell me that the game's themes will be explored through the concept of clones.
"When thinking about the story, we have this idea--and try to explore it--about the clones, like the original human clone and all the relationships between them," Semionov said. "Who is a real person and who is not and who is worth more and whatnot."
"By the start of the game, the world has been divided into humans and clay clones, the claybornes," Moonscars programmer Alexandru Romanciuc added. "There has been some conflict between the two, and they are both trying to get an upper hand at surviving. Each of the characters plays a small part in this whole story. The Sculptor has his own goals, his own view. Grey Irma has their own goals, but also as we play she tries to understand the full picture. We meet different characters, like the cat, and they aid us in developing different sides of the story."
Moonscars' combat is built on a system of observation and reaction. Grey wields a massive sword that's almost as big as she is, allowing her to cut through multiple foes at once with slow, sweeping strikes and even push back lighter foes with charged attacks. As enemies grow stronger and faster, you'll have to play smarter, mixing in dodges and parries and incorporating Grey's growing repertoire of powerful abilities, known as Witchery. Each Witchery is fueled by the same meter that Grey can pull from to replenish health, which fills as you cut into enemies. With no reliable means of blocking, you're encouraged to hit your foes hard and fast, only healing when you really have to. And so a combat system that begins rather slow grows to be quite fast-paced as time goes on.
"We started a little bit slower just to give the player a chance to get used to mechanics," Romanciuc said. "It gets quicker quite fast. Sometimes it may get a bit slower if there are really complex combinations of enemy, or it's a boss or something."
Exploring the world is how players will uncover Moonscars' story, and the different environments are designed to twist and turn back into each other. You'll regularly find yourself returning to areas you've been to before, but from a path you previously could not reach. And much like a metroidvania, Grey will unlock new navigational abilities that allow her to traverse old environments in new ways--like a long dash that allows her to glide over seemingly impassable chasms--opening up never-before-seen secrets and pathways.
Black Mermaid feels pretty strongly that most players won't endure long enough to see everything, designing the game to be challenging. Having played a snippet of the game with a demo, it certainly feels like they've succeeded, though we'll have to wait for the full release to make a final call. Semionov estimates that only 15% of their playerbase will actually get to the end of the game. And gosh darnit, I'm going to make sure that I'm included in that statistic.
Moonscars will launch for PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.
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