Acting as a spiritual successor to developer Bombservice’s Momodora series, Minoria sees players embarking on another Metroidvania-style adventure as they explore an open 2D-world, take down enemies, and improve their character’s capabilities on a quest to defeat some vicious witches. Bringing with it more refined combat mechanics and a new visual style, it really does feel like an evolution upon Momodora’s established gameplay style too – even if it doesn’t necessarily take the Metroidvania genre in a new direction.
Minoria puts players in the role of Sister Semilla, a missionary of The Sacred Office – an organization that battles against heretics that bring evil to the world and stand against the beliefs of the church – as she looks to vanquish a vile coven of witches before they’re able to cause pain and destruction in the land of Ramezia. It makes for a surprisingly deep tale and one that offers plenty of narrative details for the player to discover, with character interactions moving the story forward and notes across the world fleshing it out. It’s certainly a compelling tale and its rich storytelling kept me engaged throughout the entirety of the roughly seven-hour adventure.
Much like its predecessors, Miroria offers Metroidvania-style exploration with the player traversing an open 2D environment where more and more areas become accessible as you expand your skillset. It’s a tried-and-tested formula that I don’t think I need to go into great depth about here – just expect more of the same platforming challenges (and occasional bit of backtracking) you’ve seen in similar titles in the genre as you explore the dark world.
It’s in the combat where Minoria really enthrals, with its high-risk showdowns with baddies keeping you on your toes as you battle through both standard enemies and more deadly boss encounters. In fairness, the standard enemies go down with minimal fuss for the most part, with the player able to unleash fast combos that should wipe them out quite quickly. Just be careful not to be caught by an attack, with even the least intimidating of the game’s foes able to take a big chunk out of your health bar if they catch you off guard.
This is where your defensive manoeuvres come into play, with the player able to both dodge-roll out of the way of attacks or unleash a counterattack with a well-timed parry. Whilst simply rolling out of the way is easier to perform, it doesn’t always leave your enemy vulnerable to an attack of your own – it’s certainly more effective to master the parry early on if you want to dish out plenty of hurt. Fortunately, the game does give small indicators as to when you should parry with the different foes you face off against, so it’s a system that’s fair and that just requires a bit of good timing.
You’re also able to equip special Incense that acts as a spell system in-game, with three different options able to be equipped at a time. These grant Semilla both offensive and defensive abilities, allowing players to essentially build her skillset around their own style of play. Want to go all out and unleash all sorts of elemental blasts upon your opponents? Go for it. Or do you instead want healing abilities to ensure that you can save yourself from impending death? That’s a good idea too. Alternatively, you can just mix everything together or even equip Incense that grants different boosts and buffs, which can also be game-changers during encounters with specific foes. Balancing out your Incense is vital to your success in the game, whilst the flexibility in what is on offer means that you can really sculpt how Semilla feels to play. It’s good stuff.
It makes for a really fun combat system where even the simplest of encounters requires precision and quick-thinking from the player, though it was in the boss battles where Minoria really offers its thrills. I’m a sucker for a showdown with a more vicious and nasty foe where you have to master their attack patterns and pick your moment to strike, with Minoria featuring these epic encounters in abundance. Like similar titles in the genre, it’s in these battles that you will really have your skills tested, but they never feel unfair… just brutal.
Between the fun combat and the decent (albeit simple) exploration mechanics, there’s plenty to enjoy in Minoria. However, it was a little disappointing that there wasn’t more variety within the game world itself, with the environment style remaining quite samey throughout and without a massive range of different enemies to face off against. It’s a shame too, because the visuals look great – the 2.5D world offers a lovely change of aesthetic when compared to similar titles in the genre (including predecessor Momodora) thanks to its cel-shaded style, whilst all of the action managed to look slick thanks to the steady frame rate.
There isn’t anything here that you wouldn’t have seen in any other Metroidvania-style game either, with Minoria playing it pretty safe as far as its gameplay mechanics are concerned. That’s not a bad thing; everything it does, it does well… you just shouldn’t expect any original innovations that really help the game the stand out amongst its peers.
Minoria doesn’t revolutionise the Metroidvania genre in any way, but its slick combat mechanics and desolate yet beautiful world ensure that its dark adventure is one that’s worth embarking on. Add to that a genuinely engaging story and some excellent boss encounters, and you’ll quickly find yourself completely hooked into its grim battle against heretic witches.
Publisher: DANGEN Entertainment
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC