During January at Pax South I played an extremely interesting game from Undead Labs called Moonrise. My very first thoughts upon getting my hands on one of their iPad tablets was how much the game reminded me of the classic Playstation monster combat role playing game Jade Cocoon. Upon setting down to do a demo with Design Director Richard Foge, he said that he had heard that reference before but the team had not actually played the game before setting out to design it. I had an absolute blast playing the game, even though Foge beat up on me numerous times in PVP duels. The problem is… the game was very much a “mobile only” title at the time and I am just not that big of a mobile gamer. I feel like I am the only person on the planet without an iPad, and the only games on my phone are Final Fantasy ports. Suffice to say I was not really their ideal demographic, but the game gave me something that most mobile games do not… a rich traditional gaming experience.
Then something truly amazing happened, as though my wishes were answered. I clicked on a link to the Undead Labs stream and found out that this fun game I played at Pax South was coming to the PC and would be entering Steam Early Access soon. Yesterday I managed to get my hands on a key for the currently closed beta program, and needless to say spent a good chunk of my night wandering around and cleansing Lunari. All of this said I am getting a bit ahead of myself. If you are not familiar with Moonrise it is an upcoming multi platform game from Undead Labs that is centered around an event happening in that game world. The Moonrise is an event that spreads corruption through the land, causing the normally peaceful Solari to transform into ravening beasts known as the Lunari. You play the role of a Warden, a game keeper of a sort charged with cleansing the Lunari and making the world safe again.
Traditionally in a “Pokemon style” game you would pit your trained Solari in single turn based combat against these Lunari. However Moonrise turns this completely on its head by making the combat real time and involving up to two of your Solari at a time, with a stable of six active that you can swap between during the battle. To make things even more interesting, you as a Warden have attacks of your own. The win condition for these battles is either to exhaust all of the Solari or to focus down the health of the opponent Warden. When I participated in PVP action, I did a fairly good job at focusing down the opposing Solari, only to end up losing because my opponent focused almost entirely on me. Right now there is a basic rock paper scissors style strengths and weaknesses system, that allows you to target specific types of Solari against others for improved effectiveness. Similarly each Solari has the ability to be improved through the use of tokens earned through battles. This allows you to customize the stats at a very granular level, which I can only think will make tournament play extremely rich.
I don’t want to give the impression however that this is strictly a PVP battle game. There is a rich world to explore, and interesting Lunari to be cleansed and captured. The game uses a system of keys that allow the player to capture a cleansed Solari. You are given a fixed number of keys that regenerate over time, or you can purchase additional keys through the use of an in game cash shop. It seems like most of the monetization of the game centers around speeding up timers. However in our discussion at Pax South Richard Foge outlined that they did not want to be a game where the player simply could not do anything while waiting on the timer to elapse. There is always the option to wander out into the countryside taking on random battles and earning tokens that are then used to power up your existing Solari. There is also the option to participate in dungeons that have a chance of rewarding special chests at the end that can contain everything from loot for your Warden, and even additional abilities that your fighting force can use.
There have been no dates announced for when Moonrise will enter the steam early access program, but I was given a “Soon (™)” during the Twitch stream recently. In playing the closed beta client the game feels extremely solid, so I cannot see it taking very long before it is opened to the public. For our Canadian readers, Moonrise is already available for download on mobile devices through iTunes. They have soft launched the game in that region, so I can only hope that means that a global release is not that far away. If you enjoy monster combat games like Pokemon, and have always wished the gameplay were a bit more dynamic and interactive this might be your game. if you are like me and carry a torch for the Jade Cocoon franchise, this is most definitely a game for you. In any case you should definitely keep your eye on Moonrise, and I will be providing more information as the game progresses.
Related: Mobile, Moonrise, Pokemon, Preview, Steam