Witches, nuns, and swords await you in the newest title made by Bombservice. But is it worth the experience? Find out in our Minoria PC review.
Come on, you already know what I think about metroidvanias. The style, the structure of its levels, the ability to become more powerful with each new ability… All these aspects always leave a mark in my heart. However, sometimes it’s good to stay out of the comfort zone a little bit in order to make your new entry stand out better. I mean, sure, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for bigger and better ideas. But despite this, Bombservice’s newest game manages to offer a fun yet slightly flawed spiritual successor to Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight. If you are interested in these kind of games, then please keep reading this Minoria PC Review.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition
The premise of Minoria will be slightly familiar if you played Reverie Under the Moonlight. We control a priest (in this case a nun named Sister Semilla) and we have to vanquish an evil foe that tries to corrupt the land. Add a couple of witches burning at stakes, tons of blood and bosses harder than concrete and there you go, another Bombservice game. Granted, Minoria tries to offer a more interesting story even if it falls into the usual what if you worked for the evil Church trope. Most of the time it works quite nice, having archives telling you the lore of the world and some slight visual storytelling.
The game allows us to select from time to time different dialogue options that offer slightly different outcomes from the NPCs. It is not as baffling as something like Katana Zero for example, but it works. We can also talk with our partner from the Church in a similar fashion to Castlevania Portrait of Ruin, albeit she doesn’t really have anything really interesting to say. Does it help humanize the characters? It depends on the situation, if you ask me. At times the connection between the two main characters feels quite strong, yet other times it feels a little bit out of place. You may agree once you reach an optional area and see it for yourself. And now, let’s talk about the important part: the gameplay. And spoilers: it’s pretty good BUT it has some issues.
The Passion of Contact Damage
Just to put you in some context, I played the Blasphemous demo before getting my hands on Minoria, and it was simply awful. While visually it was astonishing due to its amazing pixel art style, the controls were far from being great. Dashing was slow as hell, and parrying worked sometimes fine, others not so much. And it also had what I believe is the worst thing you can have on 2D action platformer: contact damage with enemies.
In 2D games, most of the time you get contact damage IF the gameplay agrees with this rule. In Super Mario, you avoid touching enemies because they are obstacles in your way that you can jump over or stomp depending on the situation. And in Castlevania, you get contact damage because the combat is slower yet punishable. You hit the action button, you get a single animation swing without more follow-up combos. If you get near an enemy, your character gets knocked back. This is the game teaching the player “measure your distance, this is not about rushing attacks”. However, if the game encourages the player to get close and personal with the enemies, you can’t have contact damage without having animations properly showing this. Getting hit by nothing is never a fun thing to experience. Speaking of which…
Funfair, but without the first F
Momodora is quite a hard game, but I never felt it was unfair. Sure, some enemies obliterated you in a few hits, but the more you learned about the game, the better you could get at it. Too bad I can’t say the same about some enemies featured in Minoria. Aside from the fact that there are not that many different enemies to begin with, some of them are just plain outrageous. Sure, you can level up and get stronger, and you can find Incenses that offer you a slight defense boost. But all that fuzz doesn’t help when you can get destroyed by a tiny little bastard in two sweeps. And trust me: those little bastards WILL destroy you.
Parrying and dodging enemies work for the most part. Some enemies are really great to parry, some others are just a real pain. The timing for parrying feels precise, but with some enemies, you will swear you pressed the button without having a counter-attack. Or sometimes damage won’t even be registered even if you failed at the parry attempt. The same thing goes to the dodge, something you can spam to kingdom come yet it will fail from time to time. But despite all this, the combat feels really satisfying when it clicks. Attacking an enemy with a flurry of slashes only to finish with a well-timed parry is just incredible. But that’s when things are going well. After that, you get killed by touching an enemy while performing these actions. Minoria gives, and Minoria takes it away.
This castle is a creature of good level design
If we talk about the areas of Minoria, I have no issue with them. They are familiar and not really far-fetched from what you saw in Reverie Under the Moonlight, but they work fine. And the level design is pretty good too! While it doesn’t rely on a lot of backtracking, every area feels different enough to make you remember it. And exploration is highly encouraged, with secret walls and tough minibosses.
In terms of visuals, I can’t say I’m a big fan of its 3D style. It looks good, don’t get me wrong, but you can tell 3D wasn’t the artists’ strenght. Stiff running/top transitions, lots of repeated textures at times and some minor nitpicks may hurt the eye of those eager to see the previous title’s polish. And that’s the keyword here: polish. Minoria came out with tons of bugs and glitches, from crashing the game to getting soft locked after a miniboss battle. Fortunately, the devs have been working really hard to fix these issues as soon as possible.