If I had to answer whether Moon Hunters: A Myth Weaving Game by Kitfox Games (which I backed on Kickstarter) is worth your time on a yes/no basis, then I’d unhappily choose “no”, as it’s a very close thing. It might be the game for you, and I didn’t suffer playing it, but you usually have better uses for your time, especially when you consider just how much time this game asks of you. Time is what this is all about. Time and content: I’ve played this game a number of times, with all classes but support, more than once with most, and beat the end-game boss a number of times. Each playthrough of the game is quite short, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on how well you’re doing and the size of the maps.
The game is designed to be played multiple times, except where it is not. You only get to visit 5-6 locations in each playthrough, which provides a reason to play again, and again. Right? Well, except I rarely encounter new options, even 5 hours into the game, and less as I reached 7 hours. Not every location or every setup will appear in each playthrough, and not in every playthrough will you have one of the traits needed to make use of it, so you’d think they’d let you play through every locale the map generates each time, or most of them, and you’d still have reasons to play again for a new map, and to try a different combination of options, so why don’t they?
It’s exactly because the number of locations and events is so small, that even within two playthroughs, and sometimes within a single one, you’ll encounter the same “unique event” more than once. So this would’ve been even more noticeable had you been able to play through the entire generated map. As is, you’re playing lottery with getting some objectives done, which require two specific events in different environments appearing, and you managing to reach both. It’s somewhat of a lottery over which you have no control.
So, one way or the other, the game invites multiple playthroughs, and it doesn’t reward exploration all that much, by making new events quite rare, but there are plenty of games that revolve on “same content,” such as Diablo, or all the rogue-likes, that are fun enough to play. So how is the other part of the gameplay, aside from exploration, events, and traits: The combat? Well, it’s quite dull. Not all classes are made equal, with some being able to left-click to victory with barely any thought (except perhaps constantly walking back to avoid being hit, as you hit them), while others have to keep running away as they slowly plink the opponents’ health away. Neither is interesting, and for the weaker classes, just spending 2 minutes on a fight, or up to 5 on the boss, and hoping you don’t just mess up and die aren’t really more interesting.
The combat traits have a number of useless ones (Blood Witch’s gain more energy from left mouse button ability, while you don’t really need energy after you’re in melee), to actively harmful (Spellblade’s “pull enemies to you with your attacks,” because as said earlier, the best tactic is to constantly kite away from monsters), but the vast majority are just not interesting, just allowing you to hit more or harder, and the merchant visits never really excite me. I’m never left wondering, “Ooooh, what will I get this time?”
The game is very pleasant for a single playthrough, but the traits and events being relatively limited in scope and number means you exhaust most options rather quickly, even with the RNG associated with needing the right trait with the right event.
The game’s visuals and OST are very good, which makes the fact that the OST stops playing after certain events (such as fighting Humbaba, the big fiery bull, in the desert) doubly unfortunate. The female narrator during cutscene’s audio levels are much lower than the rest of the game’s sound, which is a small annoyance.
The game does have a number of other bugs and annoyances, such as an achievement not unlocking (defying the Spirit Guard, in my case), being unable to use the special unlocked skins for classes, being unable to change key-binding in the main or the bottom-most key while using a keyboard and mouse. The game is also woefully unoptimized, and at certain points it starts lagging and chugging, as it takes up way too much RAM.
If you’re fine with playing this game once, or twice, and especially if you have friends to play it with (locally, as online is apparently a pain in the ass to set up), even though that’d make the game even easier than it already is, then go for it. If you really are looking for a game that’d allow for multiple playthroughs, which this game touts itself as encouraging, then look somewhere else, as the game design decisions that seem to point in that direction actually cover the game’s lack of content, the sort of content that’d make multiple playthroughs rewarding. This is a 65/100 game, but not the metacritic game score where under 75 is basically “trash,” more akin to IMDB’s scoring, where this is, “Fine, alright.”
A big question is where I see the game in the future, since Kitfox Games had said that they hope to keep supporting it for years from now. First of all, the bugs are being fixed, and according to the Steam forum they’re aware of the game’s unoptimized state, but what about the game itself? Will increasing the number of encounters so there’d be less repetition help the game? Only somewhat, cause it’d also mean that the chances of getting both the event that unlocks certain conditions, and then the event where you can make use of said “key” go even lower. But less repetition would allow for an “Endless Mode,” which the game would greatly benefit from. Though you’d still be left with the unsatisfactory nature of the game cycle, which I don’t see as something that can really be remedied at this point. So perhaps the game being aimed at short bursts is for the best, as each “solution” leans on a different set of stress-points.
If you do think this game is for you, and if you’re fine playing it just once or twice, as said above, then you can buy it on Steam for $15.