How Metroidvania is it? Medium Fit. Progression takes place in segments primarily gated by keys rather than abiltiies. There is some ability gating, however.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~6 hours
Review Info: Minoria was played on Steam
Buy Minoria if you like…
- Gothic religious wars as a setting
- Pattern based combat
- High risk, easy death, fast paced
- Shorter games
- A mostly female cast
▼ Review continues below ▼
Since the words “Spiritual Successor” were mentioned heavily in advertising and on this game’s store page, comparing Minoria to the developer’s previous work is a bit of an elephant in the room. I’m a pretty big fan of Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, and I could go on and on making this review about this vs. that and what Momodora does better and what I like about what Minoria anyway, but I’m not going to do that because I think that would get tiresome pretty quickly. As someone who admittedly came into Minoria wanting more of the same from Momodora, I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little disappointed. But, if the depth of combat was your favorite thing about Momodora, and you come into this one with an open mind, I think you can still find a fulfilling game here.
Minoria’s story follows a a group of violent nuns – a sect which your protagonist is a part of – on their conquest to cleanse the world of sinful witches – basically by massacring them in hand-to-hand combat. The witches reasonably didn’t like this policy, so they launched a vengeful strike against the church. In pursuit, the protagonist and her friend are led to a great cathedral and its surrounding outskirts where the events of this game take place.
If you’ve ever consumed any Japanese media including any kind of representation of the Catholic church, you’ll probably be able to predict where this plot is headed without even playing the game. However, the atmosphere, the dialog, and environmental cues still make the story an engaging part of the experience, and it’ll probably have you wishing that there were more choices available outside of a simple ending prompt. Nevertheless, if you have any appreciation for tragedy, or a sense of general compassion, there are some fairly moving moments to be had – as long as you’re not distracted by some flagrant fan service that comes along with it.
Chasing the witches through a desecrated castle is a perfect setup for a Metroidvania, but the level design is pretty hit or miss. The game is divided into several clear segments with little reason to backtrack outside of those areas. It’s also a little boring to start out, being more focused on wandering into dead ends to find keys for locked doors rather than having fluid connectivity. You eventually get a few ability upgrades but they aren’t the game changing discoveries that enable exploration in the same way as other titles with stronger Metroidvania design. The level design isn’t very engaging at all until you obtain your first ability upgrade, and it takes a long time to get to that point.
While it is rarely required to backtrack, there are rewards for taking your movement upgrades into previous locations. If you’re really immersing yourself in the game’s lore, there are a lot of text archives you can find hidden away to enjoy. Unfortunately, from a gameplay perspective, the equipment rewards are a little lackluster. This is especially true since a lot of what you’ll find while exploring around are silver coins you use to buy equipment. Your equipment slots are already limited, so you can just pick and choose the best options and let that carry the game, removing any need to find anything else. Besides that, healing incense is really the only super useful thing to discover, as none of the other equipment has a drastic effect on how you play. For example, one of the passive incenses you can buy grants you a paltry 5% reduction to the damage you take. This effect can make the difference between dying in 2 hits and 3 hits, but I’m sure I don’t have to explain that generally speaking the difference between 95% and 100% is pretty immaterial.
There are spell incenses to be found as well, but they are a poor alternative to melee fighting. They act more like safe “Cheats” to use against bosses since you can only carry two or three of them before you must refill them at a save point. The more you have the more you can “Cheat,” but in order to use your full arsenal you have to awkwardly go into your menu and equip an unused incense after expending the previous one. The limited supply also means that experimenting with them is a matter of trial and error. I found myself basically emptying my inventory to slightly reduce the boss’ healthbar, and then it was back to memorizing patterns and engaging in melee. I feel like without some significant changes to how they work, the game might be stronger without the spells, especially since the skill gap can already be bridged through other means.
Instead of cleverly choosing equipment to make the game easier on yourself and to customize your character, the primary way to mitigate the game’s difficulty is its leveling system. This means grinding out enemies makes bosses easier, and because of that the overall skill value of the combat is degraded, just a little. There are even rooms full of high exp value enemies ripe for the picking, so it’s clear that this was an intended avenue for power progression.
Combat isn’t helped by a very generous parry ability, which I found was pretty easy to spam for safety. Against normal enemies a parry is followed up with by a devastating attack, so it’s usually better to let the enemy strike first and then let the sparks fly. The mechanic feels weirdly loose in contrast to your regular strikes and dodging having a decent tightness to them.
Bosses do still have recognizable patterns, and while parrying bosses still negates damage, you can’t rely on your teleporting counter attack against them. This means you have to employ a different strategy than what you would use against the regular foes. It’s a bit of a misstep in terms of teaching through game design, but the bosses are a highlight if what you crave is a challenge. Just like in Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, each boss has an extra reward if you can defeat them without taking damage, which is no easy task. The most meaningful rewards are locked behind this trial, arguably as it should be given the difficulty, but it also may annoy completionist players or players that are just having a hard time.
In spite of all of these criticisms though, in my personal opinion I think the combat is still worthwhile. You die very quickly – often in a single hit if you’re underleveled – so your ability to react to telegraphed cues or strategize your positioning is key regardless of how much you’ve leveled up. While it’s not difficult to exploit the parry system, or even to just roll around most encounters, the ever present danger of being beat down by one or two stray hits still provides an engaging sense of tension. I think a lot of newer players will be throwing their controllers at their screens because of this setup, but if you’ve played the harder difficulties in Momodora and are the type that enjoys the no-damage boss runs, Minoria may be just what the doctor ordered for you.
Minoria is thus still a pretty good game, just not a great one. Players looking for a good Metroidvania castle to explore should look elsewhere, but that isn’t to say there aren’t other nice attractions. High level players will get a lot out of its combat even if the leveling system mitigates the skill factor a little. More casual gamers or those new to 2d Platformer combat will probably be frustrated by the high stakes design, but may still find it worth it to experience Minoria’s melancholy world and atmosphere. I can’t strictly say that if you liked Bombservice’s previous titles you’ll definitely like this one, but if you liked the aspects that I’ve talked about – as I did – then you should definitely give this game a try.
It has all of the concepts that make for good combat, but it's not tight enough to be ''great'' for veterans, and less experienced players will likely be a little frustrated.
Platforming is pretty basic, with only a few challenges dedicated to it.
Finding more incenses - or money to buy incenses -is the primary reward for searching around, but with a few dominant exceptions their effect is minor.
No real puzzles to speak of
Surprisingly strong even if it uses some very tired tropes
The art direction is fluid and beautiful
Very somber and atmospheric, but not particularly memorable
There's a new game+ with a harder difficulty.
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