The influence of Dark Souls on modern games can’t be understated. Coining the phrase Souls-like seems like a no-brainer now when so many games imitating the intense, difficult close-quarters combat that the Souls series brought to the table. One such game takes that inspiration and goes in a different, bloody, and beautiful-looking direction: Moonscars.
This 2D Souls-like action-platformer translates the swordsman gameplay of Dark Souls into the previous dimension. It’s the first game for new development studio Black Mermaid, with Humble Games set to publish. Black Mermaid has been working on the game for a number of years, and on Sept. 27, you’ll be able to get your hands on this gorgeous-looking adventure.
The game was originally announced back in March by publisher Humble Games, hinting at a summer release date. See that trailer below:
Sculpting a story
In Moonscars, you play as Grey Irma, a warrior molded from a clay statue based on a legendary fighter. She’s on the trail of the mysterious Sculptor, the being who created her and who has the power to shape the world. What she hopes to gain from the Sculptor is currently unknown, but from the brief descriptions we have, it seems to be a tale of suffering and revenge.
Any lover of antique stories might have already noted that the plot takes inspiration from the classic fable of Pygmalion. In Greek mythology, Pygmalion was a king of Cyprus and a sculptor who fell in love with one of his statues Galatea. After praying to the goddess Aphrodite, Galatea comes alive and Pygmalion marries her.
Moonscars seems to take that myth and expands on it, building a setting that takes the story down a dark, twisted path. In this universe, the master sculptor is a powerful being who (is likely) also responsible for all the beings you fight.
We probably won’t learn more about the story until the game launches. But the premise is certainly intriguing, and ties in perfectly with the brutal gameplay and grimy aesthetics.
Slashing through the depths of Moonscars
The action in this game looks sleek, stylish, and bloody as heck. Moonscars wears its Souls influence on its sleeves, even in a flatter dimension. Combining the tough-as-nails combat you’d expect from a Souls-like with some platforming, the game takes you on a journey through a large non-linear world of darkness.
With her trusty sword in hand, Grey can use a variety of fighting techniques to take care of enemies. In addition to your normal attacks and parrying, plenty of special maneuvers can also be used to deal more damage in a wider range. You can equip a number of special weapons which each have their own strengths, weaknesses, and attack styles.
Despite your vast arsenal of techniques, the journey will not be easy. Black Mermaid has described the game as a challenging and punishing title, centered around “a cycle of trial and triumph.”
Levels are laid out in a very Metroidvania style, with plenty of alternate paths and platforming challenges to overcome. When the going gets tough, you’ll have tougher foes and bosses to deal with as well. Thankfully, Grey can also upgrade herself with Witchery, a skill tree that unlocks new combat capabilities and upgrades your stats.
A pixel’s worth a thousand words
Something that’s immediately striking about Moonscars is the aesthetics. With its high-definition pixel art, you’re transported into a dark fantasy world filled to the brim with a gloomy and brooding atmosphere.
In an article for PlayStation Blog, the game’s art director Ștefan Semionov discussed the game’s artistic inspirations. He mentions the oil paintings of old Dutch masters as a huge influence on the game’s work. These works were a reference point for both the painterly sprite style as well as the dark, muted color scheme.
It’s a wonderful art style that makes it immediately stick out against other indie action-platformers. Setting Moonscars apart, it also ties in perfectly to the unrelenting gameplay.
When can I play Moonscars?
Moonscars officially went gold on August 31 and launches on Sept. 27. It will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
We’d like to encourage you to wishlist this game on Steam as well. Wishlisting Steam games helps others on the service discover them, and if you’re at all interested in this game, wishlisting it will benefit the dev team — and give you a notification when it comes out!
You can also follow the developers on Twitter here.
Are you excited to head into the dark world of Moonscars? Let us know!