While I was strolling about the Toronto Comics Arts Festival, I noticed that Toronto's Hand Eye Society had opened up a pop-up arcade in the middle of the Toronto Reference Library for the event. After a humourous meeting with Sex Criminals artist, Chip Zdarsky, it was my best friend who pointed out Moon Hunters, suggesting we drop our bags and give it a whirl.
Developed by a Montreal-based team, Kitfox Games' Moon Hunters is a one-to-four-player "build your own mythology" RPG. In the vein of games such as The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and Gauntlet, players take on the role of a hero whose decisions will determine whether or not they will be remembered in the form of a constellation.
During TCAF, my friend and I were able to begin a two player adventure with the game's alpha build. There are four playable characters; my friend selected the Occulist, who specializes in dark magic, where as I chose
a Warrior, because let's face it guys: I'm predictable.
As soon as we selected our characters, we were treated to a beautiful, pixelated world in front of us. The first thing that occurred was we went a gypsy woman, and were given a choice between hearing out her request or killing her. My friend selected murder, and I chose to hear her out. Since we were only two players, there was a 50/50 split in the decision, so the game will choose based on who has higher charisma. In our case, murder did not occur, and we will able to continue our journey of kicking ass, and taking names in the desert.
Similar to games like Gauntlet, characters have a strong attack, weak attack, dodge, and special ability. The combat is smooth, responsive, and it's enjoyable to to simply steamroller surrounding enemies. It's also important to note that every area is procedurally generated, meaning no experience within the game will be identical. At one point in the demo, we were at a resting station; there you can rest, stargaze, or cook, with each activity allowing you to upgrade a specific stat.
After that, we continued our journey, first going into town, and then being presented with another decision to be made. Afterwards, we went back to a world map wherein my friend selected the forested area. From there, we were attacked by a giant boar. We were having so much fun exploring the areas within the game, that we realized we had been playing the demo for over twenty minutes and others clearly wanted a turn.
To be honest, I felt like I had barely scratched the surface on what Moon Hunters was going to offer. I enjoy the idea that there is co-op decision making and that your choices will determine how you will be remembered at the end of the game. It sports gorgeous artwork, and being able to choose your own mythology is such a fantastic idea. Part of me wishes I could have stayed and finished my playthrough, just because I wanted to see so badly how my Warrior would be remembered.
After chatting with the representatives of Kitfox Games, I can tell you that this is a game that should be played more than once to get the full experience. Each playthrough will have completely different outcomes for the player. Although there is no firm release date, Kitfox Games has stated it is shooting for an early 2016 window, and given how polished the game is even in its alpha build, I hope that is the case. It's set to release on PC first, but the developers confirmed that Moon Hunters will be on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, both which I think will be perfect fits for the game.
For more information about Moon Hunters, check out Kitfox Games' official website. I immensely enjoyed my time with the demo, and I look forward to its release in 2016.