Disclosure: This game was provided to us for free by Black Tower Entertainment for the purpose of review.
Alright Adam, first article for Power Spike, the first time you’ve done anything creative since we all disappeared into our respective holes. Don’t blow it by being one of those stereotypical games journalists. *ahem* So I played “Against the Moon” and it is too har-DAMMIT!
Seriously though, Against the Moon is a lane-based strategy card game that calls on your ability to calculate, plan, and not put something down and then immediately say “wait I should have put that over there” after the point of no return, which is what I did several times!
It’s a tricky game to describe in that it feels very familiar, yet very much has its own style. The best comparison I’ve been able to make is that it’s like Into The Breach had a baby with Gwent while… I want to say League of Legends was watching? All brilliant individual concepts that I’m sure combine like peanut butter and jelly to those who enjoy games that feature lanes with some elements of chance for good measure. Personally, for me it combined like peanut butter and marmalade, a little unconventional, not what I’d normally go for, but still enjoyable if you’ve got the right tastebuds and definitely an enjoyable meal if there’s nothing else on the go in the house… where was I going with this analogy?
Strange sandwiches aside, I dabbled with the game’s story-driven introduction and the “Monstro” campaign before tackling the more RNG dedicated main game and getting my dumb ass booted back to the menu where it probably belonged. The two set campaigns offer an insight into what it is undoubtedly an intriguing and lore-intensive world, humanity has been driven to the brink of extinction by the moon of all things which has suddenly decided it doesn’t like people all that much, but would rather not get its hands dirty with a Majora’s Mask style headbutt. Instead, the moon has opted to send wave after wave of a host of moon-monsters to push humanity to its natural kill limit.
Thankfully humanity in its infinite desperation is guided by the Arx, a robot lady who hates the moon and protects the last city inhabited by humanity by leading a group of warriors called the Ultori. The Ultori is dedicated to humanity’s survival, despite the Arx herself seeming pretty sus. From the taste of the story I got, there’s an interesting plot developing with a lot of creative aspects; the Ultori all have their own backgrounds and strengths. Whether you’re defensive big-fist guy, astral sword girl, or omnipotent grandma, every Ultori warrior has a past, some hinted at, some explored more actively, but all intriguing and offering deeper insights into the lore of the world.
Big-fist Ghaldir for example is a soldier and leader fully devoted to the Arx, relying on a communal philosophy, the dogmas, to guide his life and actions. Despite this, he has no memory of his past and sees wanting to learn more about it as a weakness, distracting from the bigger fight. Where Ghaldir has full faith in the Arx and supports all of her decisions, the other Ultori appear to question her decisions and motives, or just don’t really give her much attention regardless.
There is clearly a lot of thought and love put into the world-building of the game, which is only further reflected by a gorgeous and vibrant art style. Fantastic use of colour and line-work makes everything pop. Every unit, be it friend or foe, is uniquely and beautifully designed, all the different backgrounds are lush without drawing attention away from the actual game, and the art used in the game’s narrative cutscenes seem heavily inspired by Utopian artwork like that of Brave New World, an excellent design choice thematically speaking given that there is only one city left on earth.
The game suffers from some rough spots in terms of grammatical errors in it’s writing, and some occasional iffy voice-work, but these are small issues that will likely be resolved organically as the game continues to develop and grow. If you like a bit of strategy and maths with some rolls of the dice mixed in for good measure, or if you’re like me and need a good reminder that you lack any strategic or mathematical prowess and only got as far as you did in the game because of luck, then Against The Moon is definitely worth your time. I for one will be keeping an eye on Black_Tower as they continue to grow a game that is clearly driven by passion and inspiration! A final point to say that this game would be over after the introduction of DBZ’s Piccolo was an Ultori. That is all. Against the moon is available for £15.49 on Steam.