Momodora is a cute, simple side-scroller with a not-so-cute but still quite simple storyline. We follow a girl named Isadora Doralina as she journeys through a forbidden land in an attempt to bring her mother, the victim of a ritual sacrifice, back to life. That’s pretty much all
we get aside from a bit of lore sprinkled in through the collectable items scattered about the world, but the main focus of Momodora isn’t the story – it’s the gameplay.
As Isadora, we start out with a simple magic leaf to hack and slash our way through enemies, and as we progress through the game, we slowly upgrade to guns, shields, and boomerangs, all of which can be used to fight off the adorable little nightmare creatures that
attempt to halt our platforming progress. And those adorable little nightmare creatures pack a punch, especially considering the game has no consumable healing items and no way to heal at all other than finding a healing or save point in the form of the glowing diamonds at the
beginning and middle of each level.
Isadora can only withstand five hits before we have to restart all the way back from the beginning of the level, and although later-game items like the shield can offset this a bit, for the most part, conserving health is the number one priority. When offered the choice between a fast option and a safe option, it’s almost always best to take the safe option.
Momodora’s steep learning curve and general difficulty is frustrating to be sure, but in the end, it’s just that more worthwhile when we reach the next save point or upgrade our weapon to something more powerful than we’d thought the game would even allow, and it’s those small victories that keep us going.
That being said, it can still be tedious retrying the same levels over and over. Counterbalancing the difficulty and pain, however, are the aesthetics that make us genuinely excited to unlock a new area and keep us invested even in levels we’ve been stuck on for
minutes on end. The environments, objects, and even enemies use their pixel art format to its strength: simplistic, yet cute and unique design.
It’s quite visually appealing, the designs flowing smoothly together; however, this comes at the cost of clarity, as it’s sometimes hard to tell what signifies a solid object rather than a background. Isadora at least is distinctive from her environment, although even she’s easy to lose track of when you have ten enemies with designs as distinct as hers flooding the screen.
All in all, though, Momodora’s strengths more than compensate for its weaknesses, and completion of the game necessitates enough practice that we adjust to the sometimes murky level design automatically. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to kill an afternoon. Momodora gets an 8/10 ranking, and it deserves every point in its favor.
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