Roguelikes have gone through many iterations from more traditional games like ADOM to more fast-paced “rogue-lites” to the subgenre of “roguevania” which fuses the Metroidvania genre with the roguelike formula. It’s interesting to see the genre evolve and I love it when developers add their own twist to the formula, creating moments that people experience in the process. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon may not be the most innovative game in the rogue-lite genre but it certainly is one of the most fascinating entries to release these days. It just came out of Early Access and frankly, it’s an amazing game and today I wanna talk about what makes it so great. Before that, though, I’d have to say that this game is published by Konami and while the game is great, Konami’s treatment of employees and ex-employees alike is horrid. If you don’t want to support Konami, that is totally fine. I don’t condone Konami’s actions at all. I frankly got a key for the game and because it’s mainly developed by Indie Dev Studio GuruGuru, I wanted to bring attention to this beautiful piece of art.
Developer: GuruGuru, Konami Digital Entertainment Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment Genre: Atmospheric, 2D, Roguelike, Hack and Slash, Action Release Date: February 17th, 2022 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC, Switch Copy was provided by the publisher.
GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is an atmospheric roguelike hack-and-slash game that is equally challenging as it is beautiful. The game is a sequel to Getsu Fuma Den, which was released exclusively in Japan in 1987 but you won’t need to play that game to understand or enjoy the sequel given that the gameplay is entirely different from each other and on top of that, the prequel that was included in the Early Access is incredibly difficult, especially due to the missing translation but also because of the gameplay that didn’t age too well, in my opinion. So fear not! You didn’t miss out on much really apart from the stories being similar, I guess. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon (literally “The Legend of Getsu Fūma”) describes the Cataclysm that is upon the world of the living and your descent into Hell to eradicate its source. As the chosen leader and guardian of the land of the living, you wield an otherwordly arsenal of weapons as well as the powers of the Getsu clan and overcome Death itself to complete your mission.
Throughout the game, you’ll encounter plenty of enemies from demons to evil spirits to skeleton warriors. Each weapon comes with its own way of attacking and hence, you’ll need to observe them before you fight them – or you just charge in, I guess? The game is in theory really challenging and strategic but the fluid combat, the flashy animations, and the weapons’ skills and combos really entice you to go ham and slay foes. It just comes over you and it’s fun when you pull off those flashy attacks and powerful combos with the sub and main weapons alike and kill off enemies before they could actually trim even a hair of yours. While it’s arguably safer to bide your time and roll around often, the game rewards you for taking action by awarding you with varying levels of “demonization” that increases your stats and damage output until you get damaged again or until you stop killing enemies. It’s an interesting system and by god, it looks incredibly awesome!
As Fuma, you wield two main weapons and two sub-weapons. The main weapons are your main damaging tools with a special ability each as well as unique attack patterns and combos. A spiked club may be slow and unwieldy but it hits hard while the fans and gauntlets are fast at the cost of less damage overall. Meanwhile, the katana is more balanced and can parry attacks if you time them correctly. The main weapons are supported by sub-weapons that you can use at any time at the cost of ammo. The sub-weapons go on a cooldown after they run out of ammo but they can target enemies from afar or inflict status effects such as poison and fire onto them. Depending on your playstyle, you may prefer bows to muskets or utilize kunai and caltrops to throw them out between your combos. All weapons can be improved by unlocking their potential using materials you acquire during runs. As you unlock different aspects, you can then activate them using another material for the run-only. The combat feels incredibly fluid and rewards you for aggression with the aforementioned demonization. Utilizing your weapons in different scenarios to their most potential is incredibly challenging but also feels super good when you pull it off well.
The fluidity of the combat, as well as the sub/main weapon system, are very much akin to what Dead Cells has going for it but while the comparison works in some regards, I’d argue that GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon actually pulls off the combat a little better as it doesn’t spam you with projectiles and rather makes it feel as if it’s a bit of a pressure fight. Not giving your opponent any windows opportunity and maxing out your own potential makes the game really challenging. Timing is key for most of your attacks and one misstep can often punish you harshly. Luckily, you start out with a few health potions but I wouldn’t rely on them too much given that they’re still rather scarce. As you fight enemies, you may find “souls” that you can use to upgrade your weapons, health or to get another health potion. This adds yet another layer of strategy to the game, which is something I really adore.
And well, the art is beautiful. I haven’t touched upon it yet but GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is an anime fan’s wet dream. Not only does the combat feature a huge variety of weapons that make sense in the context of Japanese history, but the game also goes for that distinct traditional Ukiyo-e art style that works well in its favour. The enemy designs are glorious with 3D models in this 2D environment. The artistic world, in general, is brought to life with vibrant colours and dynamic 2D animations as well as backgrounds that display the areas’ final bosses in the distance, always seeming threatening and menacing. On top of that, the game presents you with a glorious soundtrack that is just a pleasure to listen to with authentic and spine-tingling vocals, passionate and wild drum beats as well as traditional biwa strings, as well as some more modern takes on traditional music, accompanying your journey to the literal pits of hell. The game’s not only beautiful but the soundtrack is incredibly awesome and I’m sad that I don’t have more knowledge on music to describe just how great it truly is. Just listen to it. It’s amazing.
Overall, GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon is an amazing game. It has a lot going for it from a beautiful aesthetic, an awesome soundtrack, fluid combat, and a lot of challenges to overcome. I didn’t quite like the degree of grinding there is but because the gameplay is so great, it doesn’t feel too grindy if that makes sense. Yes, there are plenty of weapons to unlock and master but in the end, the core gameplay loop is just so satisfying that it didn’t bother me so far and I doubt it will anytime soon, given that you can find materials really quickly as you progress through different stages. I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a challenging rogue-lite experience! Also, if you want to, you can use this link here before making a purchase to support me a bit. It takes you to the steam page but tracks sales which then results in me potentially getting better offers.