Moonscars game review

Moonscars game review

Straight out of the dark, unannounced, Moonscars is a challenging new action RPG that could best be described as “Souls-like 2D.” Specifically, the fights are not easy, you will have to double your patience and concentration to progress. It’s the young Black Mermaid studio, which is obviously the first title, that’s in charge. So just a first attempt or coup to transpose this popular genre to horizontal scrolling? Our verdict.

Test performed on PC. Moonscars is available on all consoles (including Game Pass).

If you like Souls-like (games that use Dark Souls codes, Elden Ring) you should know that this is a genre that lends itself well to 2D. Yes, names like Blasphemous and Salt and Sanctuary have proven it more than once! So when a certain Moonscars shows up, with a tantalizing art direction | Pretty solid at first glance fights, listen to the JV editorial team. In this demanding action RPG, you control “Irma”, clay warrior who wanted to discover the secret of his own existence. Of course, winding paths and untraceable monsters await you. You will have to swing your sword more than once to be successful.

Doña Irma in the square, original ideas

Moonscars is quite clever and original in its approach to 2D Souls-like. First, there is no stamina bar here. Irma can chain light and charged attacks as she pleases, as well as dodge dashes. The true nerve of war is the “ichor gauge”, which is located above the one dedicated to health. The bar in question, which goes up every time you hit an opponent, allows you to cast spells and, above all, recover life little by little by pulling a trigger. Obviously, during this time, Irma remains motionless, vulnerable to the slightest enemy attack. Moonscars will often present you with the option to spend Ichor to cast a powerful power up or take a step back and try to heal yourself.

This is not the only originality offered by the Black Mermaid team. With Moonscars, every time you chain victorious battles without dying, the “Malicious Menu” appears, asking you to choose between three bonuses! For example: more chance to deal a critical hit, more effective healing, or spells that cost less ichor. A system that is usually found in rogue-lites, but here it has its place. Very specifically, the more undefeated you are, the more assets you will have to continue being so. The malevolence menu is obtained quickly and its bonuses are cumulative, which makes it possible to rate a challenge that is sometimes quite corpulent. A good idea. The only drawback is that the bonuses in question are not very numerous and return in a loop throughout the adventure (they count between 8 and 10 hours). You have to admit it’s a bit embarrassing.

One difficulty at two speeds:

Beyond the menu of malevolence to nuance the difficulty, Moonscars also relies on what it calls “moon hunger”. Basically, as soon as you lose your life, enemies become more powerful, giving you more “bone dust” to buy/upgrade spells and giving you new pendants with often useful powers. The only way to avoid the spell is to spend a “ganglion”, an item hidden throughout the levels but that can also be exchanged for techniques and other pendants. So it will depend on you.

A clay statue sometimes a bit wobbly

With his clay talk, ichor gauge, and malevolence menu, Moonscars manages to forge quite a strong and solid personality. The same can be said for the visuals, whose mix of 2D “scanned” 3D assets and pixel art is reminiscent of a certain Dead Cells. Much darker and more tortured, of course. We’re also sorry that Black Mermaid’s art direction is taking too long to revamp. But, coincidentally, something is happening. Please note that in order to hone your outsider image, Moonscars does not offer a classic character development system. It is not possible to upgrade Irma’s stats (Strength, Stamina, Life)! Are you saying that here, no level logic, both for you and for the enemies. What can create a strength differential (aside from Lunar Hunger | Malevolence bonuses) are mostly spells that will unlock in the skill tree. To do this, you need to keep your bone meal, equivalent to Dark Souls souls, until the next checkpoint. The dust that remains on your corpse in one miss and in a second miss is likely to be gone forever.

Moonscars – Action in the Abyss (PC Game)

The thing about Moonscars is that bonemeal, you’re definitely going to clap a lot. Unlike in Dark Souls, the resource does not exist as an item to find and store in your inventory, which can make it difficult to level up your character. Added to which is a metroidvania-style level design where access to shortcuts and then checkpoints is a bit more rare than in a 3D environment. We thus obtain a pretty stiff progression which can generate a lot of frustration, especially in front of the bosses, which represent a certain stage of difficulty. This will depend on your patience and your level of play. Keep in mind that, despite everything, the zones hide permanent ichor and life improvements, as well as valuable items.

Good feeling for fights

For our part, we do not find this problem as disturbing as that. This for a good reason: Moonscars offers fights with good feelings! From start to finish it was a Fun cutting monsters, send them into spikes, jump, dive to deal even more damage, and style. The choice imposed by the ichor gauge is still nice (heal yourself or cast a spell) and it’s always rewarding to parry at the right time and then take advantage of its devastating response. Because yes, Moonscars is fun and visceral, even if the platforming phases and sometimes the slightly confusing gestures of the opponents spoil this image. We would also have appreciated more special abilities with knives, whose animation, like that of spells, is also particularly neat. Whatever the challenge or its somewhat too punitive dimension, in the end. Starting with Moonscars is always a delight and that’s the main thing.



  • A really successful game.
  • A macabre visual at will.
  • Animations, comments
  • Original approach to the genre.
  • A great taste of “come back”
  • Many spells to unlock

Weak points

  • Sometimes quite confusing patterns
  • DA struggling to renew
  • Overall a bit too punitive

Even if we feel that the Moonscars formula isn’t quite up to its potential, the Black Mermaid studio delivers a solid and often quite slick action RPG here. Between mixing genres with a touch of rogue-lite; two-speed difficulty; good feel in combat and beautiful art direction, there really is something going on, controller in hand. Ultimately, it’s two or three inaccuracies, in terms of balance and completion, that bring Moonscars down. Whatever, it’s always a pleasure to restart a game. A good peak for lovers of demanding action games. It’s available on Game Pass!

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