How Metroidvania is it? Medium Fit. Simona's Requiem has more level like areas, but it's all interconnected with some good incentives to go back through previous areas.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~2 hours
Review Info: The Steam review code for Simona's Requiem was provided by the developer through the Steam Curator Connect program
Buy Simona's Requiem if you like…
- More relaxed pacing
- Main characters with a sense of humor
- More linear platforming challenges
- Ethereal music
- Existential stories
▼ Review continues below ▼
As far as steam pages go, Simona’s Requiem might be the best advertised I’ve seen. Its first five bullet points sum everything up nicely. I had the thought that this game reminded me more of Simon’s Quest than other Metroidvania games before I rediscovered that the store page points out that exact thought. It’s not terribly common that a game completely achieves everything it sets out to do, but from that perspective, Simona’s Requiem is basically a perfect game. It’s a slower-paced, short and sweet experience that lends more to an evening of relaxation rather than an exciting challenge. Aiding in this ethos is a pleasant soundtrack that uses music box notes liberally and generally puts you in a meditative mood. The melancholy of its more existential subject matter is softened by the jovial attitude of your playable character. Simona’s Requiem creates a world that I can almost guarantee will put you in a great mood by the time you’re done with it. That isn’t to say there aren’t some expectations that need to be set before diving in, but overall I’d say Simona’s Requiem is worth every bit of time it asks of you.
The first caveat that needs to be addressed is how Simona’s Requiem’s slower pacing isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Simona doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere. The character walks around like you might as you shuffle out to your kitchen in the morning to see what’s good in the fridge. While there is a dash ability later in the game, it’s possible you’re not going to find it until you have only one area left to use it in, and even then it doesn’t exactly turn you into an acrobat. Thankfully the level design is truncated enough that you won’t be spending a ton of time moseying along through empty hallways. The moments when there aren’t platforming challenges or enemies to kill are combined with atmospheric elements like interesting lighting or beautiful music. Simona’s Requiem tries very hard to draw you in to these “chill” elements, so I recommend that you let it draw you in. It can be very soothing in ways that pure game design couldn’t otherwise accomplish. Even when enemies are involved or other challenges ramp up, you’re given quite a lot of HP to work with, to the point where it was extremely rare I felt any adrenaline. If I missed an attack or a jump it was all fine, I could just try again at my leisure.
With all that said, Simona’s Requiem does have moments where some players might feel a little frustrated. I think the biggest challenge to be had is figuring out exactly how the game’s platforming gimmicks work. Your scythe always slashes out horizontally, where your hitbox has very little vertical coverage. This is important because in order to clear some of the game’s gaps, you have to hit these bumpers to get some lift from the attack. If you spend your double jump however (after you get the double jump), you’re able to do a second attack mid-air and sometimes a third. These subsequent attacks do a full circle motion around Simona, which do have coverage above and blow you. Coming out of other games that use pogo jumping as a platforming mechanic, Simona’s Requiem feels a bit awkward to get used to, since you essentially have to blow your double jump before you can really take advantage of the lift the bumpers offer you. There were many moments where it felt like I could just barely make a gap using the game’s mechanics, and as a result I don’t think I ever reached intentionality when it came to judging exactly the distance I was able to cover. Thankfully because of the more linear nature of the game’s levels, it could be pretty easily assumed that if you were able to access the area in the first place, you’re probably going to be physically capable of getting through it. It just might take more tries than some people might have the patience for. It never gets so difficult that platformer veterans will ever have too much trouble with it, but it does remove some of that “beginner game” credibility Simona’s Requiem might have otherwise had.
As always the bosses represent the game’s greatest challenges, although as far as challenge is concerned it’s not terribly consistent. The first boss is literally attached to a wall, so as long as you just move out of the way occasionally, you could simply stand in one place and swing away. For the second or third boss you’re given a bit of a choice. The game’s literal sign postings warn you which direction is best to take first, but of course since I’m the kind of person that likes to look where you’re not supposed to go before following the “correct” path, the boss I ended up facing second was much harder than it would have otherwise been. That dash ability I mentioned is of course really nice for avoiding attacks, and both the second and third bosses seem to be designed around the assumption that you have it. Simona just doesn’t move fast enough to dodge some of the attacks those bosses throw at you without it. Although, with some trial and error you can simply predict that the attack is coming and already be positioned away from it when it happens. The game gives you ample opportunity to change directions without too much backtracking needed, but players who stubbornly commit themselves to the “wrong” way may find a slightly more challenging game. I think it’s great that the game gives you this choice.
There is one required boss right at the end of the game that highlights the biggest weakness of Simona’s Requiem’s slower pacing however. The main issue is that this boss just has a ton of HP. Its slow, methodical and predictable pattern is easy enough to get through without taking damage, but unlike almost everything leading up to that point when you do take damage it is a substantial amount. At the character level I had gotten to I could only take five or six hits before I had to start the fight over again. Conversely, this boss flies around out of your reach – remember your scythe has very little vertical coverage until after you’ve already hit something – so for a good portion of the fight you’re just waiting until the boss flies down to where you can start hitting it. Once the boss is in range you’re only allowed to hit it about three times before it becomes literally invincible and flies away again. In other words, this boss could take up to five minutes to kill on an absolutely perfect run. If you make it four minutes in and mess up, then you have to commit another four minutes to catch up to where you were. Needless to say if you’re having an especially hard time this repetition can start to get very tedious. It is worth noting that I was missing one of the game’s ability upgrades by the time I had gotten to this point, a power which apparently adds just a little more damage. However checking out a “no damage” boss run posted on YouTube by Rangris, it still took them around 4 minutes for this particular fight. Like the pacing of the game in general, this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. However, my steam playtime for this game was around two hours, and I’m going to guess that at least 20 minutes of that, or almost 20% of that playtime, was spent on this one fight. The music was good and the ending worth it, but again it just highlights the weakness of the “chill” pacing.
Another aspect that the “chill” pacing actively works against is the exploration. If you miss anything on the first time you go through an area, it truly is a slog to go back and look again. As I mentioned I missed an optional ability upgrade, and the reason I left it where it was is because I lacked the desire to wander about with Simona’s sedate stride. Ironically though, I did find all of the game’s other collectable, which are these epitaphs that give you a few words to enhance the story. Only one of these epitaphs seemed to require an item I couldn’t have had the first time I went through a place, and it didn’t require too much backtracking to reach the hidden area. So if you play Simona’s Requiem, definitely pay attention – you can at least get the epitaphs without hardly any backtracking at all. You can also take note of anything that looks unusual since there are only seven optional collectables. The first area had a cliff I couldn’t reach without the double jump that made me curious, but it ended up just being a shortcut back to the beginning of the level in case I had decided to go back and explore. You do also eventually get the ability to teleport between sign posts, so in spite of Simona’s turtle feet there are many shortcuts to prevent you from slogging around too much.
As I’ve hinted at to some degree, one of the things that really makes Simona’s Requiem worthwhile as an experience are its presentation elements. The game introduces its plot with somber music and promises a sad tale about the tragic Fisher King. Then, Simona is introduced, and he (or she) immediately starts making sarcastic quips and cracking jokes, which I found initially jarring. These jokes never try to break to fourth wall or otherwise cross over into cringe territory, however, and in general they feel more like the words of a tired ancient being trying to cope with their “life” rather than some hard attempt at making the game into a comedy. The actual events occurring around Simona are indeed quite tragic, and the music never ceases to be somber in spite of Simona’s attitude. What actually happens with the plot and ending is somewhat predictable, but between the music, the graphics, and the genuine dialog it still comes off as charming. Strip all of these elements away and Simona’s Requiem would be a painfully slow slog with one particularly tedious boss, but with them, it becomes special in a way that just needs to be experienced.
Simona’s Requiem is a great example of the problem with creating a strict rubric for judging games. I could nitpick the wonky platforming controls, or judge Simona’s Requiem strictly on the designs of its four bosses, and while it would still be a really solid game it would end up being a mostly forgettable experience; being especially hard to recommend because of its slow pacing. Simona’s Requiem goes the extra mile with its presentation however, creating a fantastic escapist getaway that might even haunt your thoughts if you let it. Themes of death and redemption have been a part of our storytelling since storytelling was invented, and there are most certainly “better” examples than what Simona’s Requiem has to offer, but don’t let that detract from the value that this game still has. Simona’s Requiem claims to be a relaxing short experience that can be enjoyed fully in one evening, and that’s exactly what it is. Go into it with the right expectations, and I expect you’ll come out of it with warm feelings that are hard to put a score on.
Simona's Requiem offers some well designed bosses with novel patterns, however while its slower pacing is more beginner friendly it does make failure that much more punishing in the long run
It can be quite challenging to time your scythe swings for the extra lift provided by hitting objects, almost to the point where it feels persnickety, but overall very good
There are hidden optional collectables and one optional ability upgrade, but overall the game is fairly short with not too much extra to offer on the exploration front
There are no puzzles aside from possibly an arguing the tricky platforming is puzzle like
The story is quite good and a highlight of the game, even if the main character's sense of humor is initially jarring
The graphics are overall pleasant and there are some very interesting effects to enjoy as lighting effects are played with
Many of the tracks are ethereal, making it easy to be sucked into the themes the game is trying to present
Aside from the usual self-imposed challenges, there aren't many features that might entice a player to come back and play again without some space
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