Castlevania and Dark Souls fans Should Pay attention to Moonscars

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Moonscars is the upcoming 2D metroidvania in the spirit of the soul from the developers of Black Mermaid. Hollow Knight, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Ender Lilies, Blasphemous and Salt and Sanctuary are some of the many examples of metroidvaniy in which they tried to use what makes soullikes so popular. Moonscars is one of the next games to use this approach, and it certainly features a striking artwork.

Moonscars will be released next month, and the developer of Black Mermaid, along with the publisher Humble Games, have published a lot of details to please fans. It will feature a skill—based battle where every death is a “lesson learned”, a concept that Dark Souls fans are familiar with. Promising a non-linear 2D world full of mystery and intrigue, Moonscars strives to create its own identity, despite drawing strong inspiration from similar games such as Castlevania and Dark Souls.

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Moonscars wears its inspiration on its sleeve

It is almost impossible to talk about the genre of metroidvania without mentioning its namesakes, the Metroid and Castlevania series. The 1997 Castlevania game Symphony of the Night, in particular, became a pioneer in this genre and laid the foundation for many subsequent games. A deep role-playing game offering players several options and routes, Symphony of the Night created a plan according to which Moonscars is one of the last games that can be used. Castlevania was also able to capture the Gothic, Lovecraftian aesthetic that really added to its tense atmosphere.

Dark Souls also spawned its own subgenre, Soulslike, which had a strong impact on the industry. Dark Souls and its subsequent sequels from developer FromSoftware, combining rough complexity with deep mysterious knowledge and reliable battles, have sold millions of copies worldwide. Games like Code Vein, Dolmen, and Mortal Shell have tried to replicate the Dark Souls formula with varying results.

Another game that immediately comes to mind when looking at the artistic design of Moonscars is Blasphemous from Spanish developer The Game Kitchen, released in 2019. With a plot that revolves around a religious land and cursed inhabitants, Blasphemous has tough fights and memorable bosses who clearly had a hand in shaping the image of the Moon Scars.

Moonscars has a promising premise

Publisher Humble Games has described the world of Moonscars as “unforgiving,” and judging by the appearance of the bleak environment, it’s easy to see why. Gamers will play for the mysterious Irma Gray, “clay-born”, made of clay, bone and ichor. Grey Irma must track down the Sculptor responsible for her creation in order to understand why she was created. As with Dark Souls, players can discover a lot of knowledge as they progress through the game. What happened to the civilization, why it lies in ruins and why it is now inhabited by so many monstrous creatures are mysteries that the player must uncover.

There is no real way to block, other than the standard parry mechanics, so the player will need to be aggressive, accurately and effectively swinging the huge sword of Gray Irma. Players can expect a lot of deaths, but that’s the nature of the Soulslike genre, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Grey will also have special abilities known as “Witchcraft”, which she will be able to unlock and improve as the game progresses; including the ability to bypass to revisit old areas.

Xbox Game Pass subscribers will be able to play Moonscars on the first day, despite the fact that there will only be their own version for Xbox One — Xbox Series S/X owners who subscribe to Game Pass will still be able to play it thanks to backward compatibility. If Moonscars can deliver on its promises, then fans of soullikes, metroids, or both can have an incredibly unique experience when it comes out next month.

Moonscars is released on September 27 on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Xbox One.

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