Taking place in a fantasy land where the Sun Cult has somehow taken the moon, players in Moon Hunters assume the role of one of multiple Moon Clan heroes in an attempt to find out what happened to the moon and hopefully restore it to its rightful place. In a departure from many recent games, however, the path to victory is only vaguely made clear to the player. Players must take their chosen hero through various, randomly generated zones in an attempt to gather the knowledge and help necessary for success.
While there are many ways to clear the game, not all of them end well. Becoming strong enough to defeat the Sun Cult without finding a way to restore the moon, for example, ultimately causes the decline of the Moon Clan due to it no longer having its god. Many other paths are available based on character traits the hero obtains over the course of their journey that are often obtained by the choices made when interacting with NPCs. Helping an enemy may result in the hero becoming compassionate while smashing a Sun Cult shrine might result in an increase in piety.
All of this comes together to give each playthrough's hero their own unique character and story, and how their hero develops plays a huge part in which options are open to the player. Roguelikes certainly aren't new, but the way in which the random generation, divergent paths, and choice consequences all shape each hero's path in such a short period of time results in the creation of an original, fresh feeling game.
Turn-based RPGs aren't anything new, but Darkest Dungeon's fresh take on the concept plays very little like anything that came before it. Its fifteen classes that make for very diverse rosters, positioning playing a key role in combat for both the player and the enemies, and a constant need to monitor both health and sanity in two very different manners create a nail-biting experience that many other RPGs fail to replicate. The game's powerful presentation puts the player in a way that difficult to put into words, doubling down on its bleak tone and infuses it in every aspect of the gameplay, from mental quirks to maddening debilitations. Darkest Dungeon is the clearest example of saying a lot with very little.
The most obvious aspect of World of Final Fantasy, its monster collecting, isn't its most original innovation. While there have been plenty of other games featuring the collecting and growing of monsters to then use in battle, it's the style in which this is handled in World of Final Fantasy that's unique. Players construct stacks by teaming main characters Reynn and Lann up with monsters of differing sizes, constructing battle stacks that literally have the creatures standing one atop another. Even better, stats, resistances, and abilities directly depend on which monsters have been combined. Of course, these towering stacks can also be toppled to the team's disadvantage, so stack with care. World of Final Fantasy mines the series rich catalog of creatures, heroes, locations, and music, and fusing them into an experience that's hard to forget.
by Ken Staples, Zack Webster, Pascal Tekaia