MO: Astray – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Puzzle, Platformer
Developer: Archpray Inc.
Publisher: Rayark
Platform: Switch, PC
Tested on: Switch

MO: Astray – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Great art, Sound and gameplay
Bad: Some minor quirks could be smoothed out
User Score
10.0
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (4 votes cast)

Initially released last year on PC, MO: Astray just got ported to Nintendo Switch on the 10th of September. The game received a warm welcome from all types of players, with slick controls and good gameplay, but how will it hold up on Nintendo’s Switch?

Story

MO: Astray’s plot revolves around the titular protagonist, a little ball of blue goop which is later on named MO. After being birthed from a pod into a seemingly abandoned research station, MO is greeted by a female disembodied voice. This mysterious voice will talk about how tired she is from being stuck in the tower and how MO is there to help her.

As players progress through the game, they will be able to discover snippets of information about what truly happened to the station and its corrupted inhabitants. These snippets are almost always optional and without order, which allows players to piece together the story at their own pace. More information about the events that took place also come after each chapter in the form of short, fully illustrated comics.

While this review will not go in-depth about the story, there is a reason for it. Almost anything that could be told besides the start would spoil the experience, which is well written and interesting. The characters are surprisingly fleshed out and discovering more about them or the story as a whole is intriguing. That said, one could choose to play MO: Astray with the bare minimum of information about its story: as previously mentioned, most snippets are optional and the comics are skippable, allowing players to tailor their experience.

Graphics

The game’s graphics are made up of high-density pixel art, which makes gorgeous environments and pretty good characters. There is one exception though, this being the previously mentioned comics, which are instead made up by illustrations. Unsurprisingly this style also means it is pretty much the same between both of the existing versions, only the size being downscaled for the portable version.

Despite lending itself so well to environments, the game’s style doesn’t fare identically for characters. While still good, most characters aren’t particularly detailed, although it isn’t a problem on monsters, already looking corrupted and well, monstrous. As usual, the outliers are the game’s bosses, which range from gigantic aberrations to murderous machines and are incredibly unique.

Sound

MO: Astray’s sound department is perfectly covered by an amazing soundtrack featuring upwards of 30 songs and great SFX. The game’s music is varied and ranges from calm tunes to energetic melodies, the latter often in boss battles and tense moments. As expected from Rayark, creators of games with incredible soundtracks such as Cytus or Deemo, the game’s music only emphasizes the feelings conveyed in the story, without overshadowing or breaking immersion. All of the sound effects are well made and employed as well, making them satisfying to hear without becoming annoying at any point.

Gameplay

As an action-puzzle platformer MO: Astray doesn’t bring anything excessively new to the table. What it does instead, is provide smooth as butter controls and enough challenge to be enticing for any type of player. The main mechanic consists of making MO jump around while dodging enemies and spikes. Later on, more upgrades, such as a dash or double jump, are added to the mix, further developing the movement.

While most sections of the game consist of what has previously been described, there are puzzle ones as well. These are often quite straightforward, being more about correct timing and order than finding a solution. That said, there are some outliers; certain parts of the game include symbol matching challenges or water height puzzles which do indeed require coming up with a solution.

Another important part of the game is made up of the already mentioned bosses, which all vary in shape and abilities. The way of defeating these enemies changes with each one, but more often than not, it is a variation of the “dodge while activating things” type. This is not to say the boss fights are not unique (they definitely are) but they don’t require the player to face the enemies directly.

As mentioned while talking about the story, there are snippets that can be found while progressing through the game. These come in two different forms: little pieces of the substance MO is made up of and enemy memories. The first also double as power-ups, allowing MO to gain extra health upon collecting five pieces, further incentivizing collecting them.

Enemy memories can be read thanks to the first ability MO unlocks; latching onto the monster’s heads. By doing so, these enemies can be controlled at will and their memories read. A select few, often dead and in remote areas, will shine and pulse. Upon latching to these, a cutscene relaying the events that lead to the creature’s death will appear. This mechanic as a whole is a very unique way for players to learn the story and events of the game.

While MO: Astay does feature several types of difficulty, it is not a particularly hard game. Those playing it for leisure, and not speedrunning, will not find themselves frustrated at any point; checkpoints are generous and common. A few sections, particularly those in MO’s mind, will completely restart, but they are exceptions.

A very noticeable change from PC to Switch is how the sometimes sticky controls seem to have disappeared. You see, in the PC version, there would often be small input lags or stuck movement directions, which seems to have been solved in this iteration. There are small issues here and there, such as a sequence that becomes nearly impossible after dying, but they’re rare and not particularly bothersome.

Conclusion

MO: Astray is a great game with a very good story and amazing graphics and audio. While it is not the lengthiest game, the around 10 hours it offers are very enjoyable and adequate for its reasonable price tag. At $15/£11,39/€12,49 it is a very recommendable game which goes for even less on sales. Fans of the genre will enjoy their time with it while newcomers will still find a pleasant experience.

Personal Opinion

“I’ve enjoyed quite a bit my time with MO: Astray, it is definitely a very fun game. It also helps that I love the main character and how surprisingly cute it can be compared to the darkness of everything else; I found myself chuckling whenever MO got squashed into a pancake by fast winds or the face it’d made when filled with gas. The soundtrack is also great which definitely helps with the enjoyment. I was also surprised by how good the story was; I didn’t come in with many expectations so it was more than welcome to see it was well written and interesting, especially the incredibly dark turns it can sometimes take.”

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Rating: 10.0/10 (4 votes cast)
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MO: Astray - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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