How embarrassing. The Sun Cult have burned all of the forests, and we’ve been preparing to fight their leader, King Mardokh. But having already seen two warriors vanquished, we didn’t really fancy our chances in battle, and so opted to charm rather than attack him. Now he’s fallen for us and is imploring us to run away with him. Our fellow moon worshippers will be displeased, and we’re rather sabotaging our own legend, but how can we stand in the way of true love?
Kitfox Games’ mystical RPG adventure gives you only about an hour to forge a lasting legacy through your actions, in a world where the stars are no longer in equilibrium. A feast to celebrate the arrival of the lunar queen goes awry when she fails to show up, leaving the Sun cult to take over. You’re given three dawns to settle your affairs before Mardokh arrives to annihilate the tribes who would defy his rule. It’s a narrative with a fixed destination, but regardless of the outcome, you have plenty of say in how you’ll be remembered when it’s all over. Journeys end, as the game tells you, but stories live on – and not only in a written post script. The myth of your chosen warrior will endure in physical form: over several Knowledge gained across multiple playthroughs will inform the choices you make in familiar scenarios – and the traits you’ll obtain afterward. But learning how to play the system rather cheapens the romance of the fable attempts, the night sky will steadily fill with commemorative constellations, and you may even find a statue heralding the achievements of a previous hunter.
It’s structured as a Roguelite, as you move between nodes on the map, making discoveries and mowing down enemies until you either reach a safe place to camp or run out of health and are forced to prematurely call it a night. The key difference is that rather than gaining a deeper understanding of a world and its systems over several plays, your actions make it a bigger, richer place. You’ll discover new recipes that can be used at rest stops to boost your character’s stats (on one run, we concocted a broth that increased our energy regeneration for the subsequent adventure) and open up new area types, moving from forests and deserts to mountains, swamps and rivers.
It’s a novel and moreish hook for a while, and if your actions don’t prompt an immediate response, they’ll often result in an amusing footnote: how were we to know that bringing a bird to a village would curse it with ten years’ bad luck? But all too soon the same vignettes recur, and the myths blend into one – indeed, you’re forced to choose which hero should be honoured by a single constellation. There’s something to be said for a game that lets you elope with the final boss, but otherwise Moon Hunters’ light wanes a little more quickly than we’d hoped.