Moonscars – Review
Follow Genre: Metroidvania, Adventure
Developer: Black Mermaid
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5
Tested On: Switch

Moonscars – Review

Site Score
Good: Accessible and entertaining
Bad: Messy story and not much variation
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Adding Soulslike elements into Metroidvania games started being in vogue relatively recently. First came titles like Hollow Knight and Blasphemous with more soon following. This has led to a massive influx of titles with such characteristics lately, of which Moonscars is one of the newest. However, this same influx also means competition is tighter than ever. Does Moonscars truly stand out?


The game’s story is the usual decaying world plot found in the genre. This time around, instead of zombies the main enemies are “clayborn”, beings made out of clay and ichor bent on consuming human flesh and bone in order to approach true humanity. While the game starts without explaining any of the terms it employs, a few exposition dumps can be optionally obtained from NPCs, letting the player know this all came to be when a kingdom needed an army that wouldn’t tire or falter only for it to go awry.

Overall the story is pretty similar to the standard of the genre and doesn’t offer much variety. Although the riff is somewhat unique, it ultimately devolves into eldritch beings killing humanity. The writing itself is nothing incredible and it is also somewhat let down by the sketchy translation, which often muddies up conversations between characters.


Moonscars’ graphics consist of gorgeous pixel art for both characters and backgrounds. Although the game is overall dark (in line with the story’s tone and the usual genre tropes), it features a great deal of detail whenever it has a chance. The only issue worth mentioning is the lack of enemy variety, with the same handful of clayborn being featured across all areas from beginning to end. That said, the game’s animations do a great job of conveying the heft behind hits, making them feel rather good.


The game’s sound design is also rather decent, with SFX that add onto the animations to further the sensation of heft on hits and a good soundtrack. While the game also features some voice acting, it doesn’t particularly stand out, being alright but nothing special. Other than that, Moonscars doesn’t particularly utilize sound in any special ways, thus being only there to slightly improve the experience.


As previously stated, the game is a Metroidvania with some Soulslike influences. Said influences don’t affect the major mechanics but rather the setting and art direction. Instead, the game is more directly influenced by Hollow Knight, which is clear by its magic and equipment systems. Said magic system requires players to hit enemies in order to charge their ichor, which can then be spent to heal or use abilities.

There is a slight level of depth with how the system works, since spells don’t actually consume the ichor but rather “corrupt” it, meaning it cannot be used to cast again but is still available for healing. The spells available also offer a decent amount of variety and each has up to 3 levels that can be unlocked by consuming the game’s currency at save spots. That said, the fact that the game requires at least one blast spell to break hidden and special walls is a minor annoyance that forces players to constantly swap their spells.

Alongside these spells, players also have access to a classic invincible dash and a parry, which can be used when enemy attacks flash red. Said parry is slightly wonky though, with enemies having different attack timings and the flash coming up before the actual animation plays. The reward for actually parrying a hit is somewhat mediocre, simply providing a slightly more powerful hit (that can miss the enemy since their animations don’t stop) and canceling damage.

Besides their main attack and spells, players will also have access to a secondary weapon that largely serves as a heavy attack. Said secondary weapons have a longer wind-up animation than normal attacks but deal more damage and inflict status effects on normal enemies. An interesting but somewhat irrelevant system linked to these weapons is that at certain save points players will need to relinquish their body and weapon, before coming back to fight the doppelganger generated. Once said doppelganger is defeated the weapon can be retrieved (or a new one, since it offers a selection of 3). Should a player want to swap their weapon on the fly it is also possible to do so at the save points, although it costs some currency.

A major mechanic of the game is the “spite” system, triggered by killing a large number of enemies. Once spite builds up, players can choose a buff out of a selection of three, stacking up to five times based on how many enemies are killed. However, this has a downside that comes in the form of the “Ravenous Moon”, which strengthens all enemies after the player dies with all five stacks of spite charged. In order to reset the moon to normal, they can spend more currency at a save spot or defeat a boss. Although this is a relatively good idea to balance risk/reward, it is more of a nuisance than anything else, since currency is plentiful enough that it can be undone at will.

Adding onto this, the game has a major problem with its currency, since it’s basically irrelevant once players unlock two spells and three trinkets they like. The two shops that exist in the game never get updated with new items and the spell tree shows the possibilities from the start. Should a player not like a spell, they can simply ignore the upgrades and unlock a new one, then move on to stacking money for no reason. While the game does feature the classic Soulslike system of dropping money on death and needing to retrieve it, the cash flow is so constant that losing tens of thousands can be made up in fifteen minutes of farming.

For those worried about the difficulty of the game due to its Soulslike influences, it is worth noting that Moonscars is surprisingly tame. Enemy patterns are easy to read, spikes don’t instakill, and health, ichor, and damage buffs are plentiful for those who bother exploring. Although with the Ravenous Moon active enemies hit for massive amounts of damage, the ability to disable their buffs means they often don’t pose much of a challenge. The fact that save points are relatively well accessible also means that dying only wastes a bit of time, allowing players to get back up and tackle the challenges again.


Moonscars is an entertaining and accessible Metroidvania that won’t rock anybody’s world, but it offers a fair amount of content. Containing about 8 to 10 hours of gameplay, Moonscars can be beaten in a few sessions and is a good starting point for those looking to get into “Soulsy” Metroidvanias, as the game is easier than Blasphemous or Hollow Knight. Sold for $/€19.99 or £15,99, the game is not expensive for what it offers. That being said, many of its direct competitors have similar or lower prices, thus we advise waiting for a sale.

Personal Opinion

“I honestly had a bunch of fun with Moonscars. It can be beaten in a handful of sessions, it has an intuitive map, and plentiful saves. As someone who now has only a few hours to play at night, I very much appreciated how accessible the game is. The fact that you get a super-dash halfway through the game also helps, since it makes traversal much more entertaining. My only gripe with the game was the lack of variety for the later segments of the game. This was because there weren’t new enemies, weapons, or generally anything. As someone who favors Castlevania over Metroid, I like finding new weapons and mechanics to mess with as I progress. Sadly, that isn’t really the case here. Overall, if you like the genre or want to get into it, Moonscars is a good game worth your time; just don’t expect to be awed.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Moonscars - Review, 6.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

No longer writing for the site, pursuing other things.

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