Moss Destruction doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. But it does look to make a satisfying recreation of the ‘Rogue-Like’ format with only a couple minor changes to keep it fresh.
Developer Shotgun With Glitters starts off on the right foot with a top down, Rogue-like shooter that shows promise and has an interesting style. But in its current form it lacks the depth games of this genre require to stand up to extended replayability.
Moss Mech Mayhem
Moss Destruction places you as the pilot of a walking mech robot, carrying high powered weapons and a spinning blade to chop up your enemies. Each of your playable characters are different species of moss growing in a jar. The plants presumably went sentient in an attempt to defend themselves from the many aliens you will encounter.
In fact, there really isn’t much of a story present at all in the game. Besides a small description for each mech pilot, there is nothing else in terms of a narrative or explanation for where you are or why any of these characters have the need to grab the nearest rocket launcher and go on the warpath.
Although not having a tight narrative isn’t a deal breaker for most rogue-lite games, providing the player with a bit of context would certainly help make the characters and events more memorable. After a few runs of the game, I had basically forgotten those on screen weren’t just regular humans anyway.
The music in the game also helps display that the game still has some work to do. I only managed to experience about three different music tracks during my playtime, Each of which only consisted of about ten to fifteen second music loops which got repetitive pretty fast. For an extended play session, I recommend putting the music on mute and playing your own.
The sound design of the weapons, however, is much better in this regard. Gunshots are nice and punchy; especially the plasma weapons with their nice low booming effect that really made them feel explosive and dangerous.
Every Run Is Different
For those of you new to the genre, many of the games with that description were built on the same basic design. The longer you spend playing, the more random effects begin to take hold on your environment and your character. Some effects can be helpful to you, and some can make the game harder for everyone involved.
Runs in Moss Destruction can be short but, with the random element each of them will be anywhere between a grueling fight or an explosives-filled party. This means that there is little in the form of continuation between each match. When your character dies, they’re gone forever and it’s time to start over.
The game offers somewhat of a progression, however, in the form of modules. Certain enemies can drop crystals that can be used in the store. The store spawns once on each level and offers random items each time you visit. These modules can affect your character, by adding either active or passive abilities.
Once you purchase an ability, you can equip it at the beginning of your run to mitigate some of the bad luck you’ll come across as you play. You can’t equip everything, though. The character you decide to tackle Moss Destruction which will influence the number slots at your disposal.
Looking at the levels, each map is randomly generated and the enemies are randomly spawned as well. The more time you spend in each level, the more enemies will spawn. Taking your time to make your way to the exit might cause your hero to be overwhelmed.
On top of that, Moss Destruction also includes a character progression system. Each time you finish a level, you can add a bonus to your character. These can range from more health, to faster movement, to companions that can help attack your enemies or defend you from projectiles.
Every five levels you complete will also unlock a bonus stage which will pit you against a boss. At this time, there is only one boss enemy in the game: a large ship that sends out massive amounts of projectiles in waves, offering a hectic experience!
Moving Around The World
Exploration is an important part of Moss Destruction. The levels are initially covered in a fog that you can clear away by moving through it or by collecting a compass. Other than that, each floor’s random generation can feel somewhat same-y; with the room being a group of large squares connected by hallways.
The movement system felt quick and responsive even on the slower characters, allowing me to dart in and fire off a few shots and get out. Using the fast projectile weapons like the sniper rifle, instead, felt more difficult to me. The large size of the aiming cross-hair, along with the fact that it wouldn’t move very far from your character, made it hard to aim at enemies at farther distances.
Another thing that slowed me down, initially, was a lack of tutorial screens. This left me to figure out that there were four different weapon types, each with different ammo caches. Running out of ammo for my gun of choice let me figure that out relatively quickly so it wasn’t a big deal, but the devs might want to work on adding a proper training level so that players won’t get lost.
A larger problem for me was that the gameplay seemed to lack depth. I noticed there didn’t seem to be any difference in my play style from my 5th run to my 15th. Even though I had unlocked new items, I was still utilizing the same strategies. I’m hoping that the developers add some new abilities or enemies that can radically change the game from one run to the next. For now, the game has a hard time standing up to extended play sessions.
During the writing of this review, the developers have released an update for this game. The patch unlocks a new area called “The Blu Wilderness” which has a lot more to offer in terms of level design.
The developers have also released three updates to this game within the last month. This marks a stark contrast with certain other ‘Early Access’ that seem to languish in an unreleased form for a long time, effectively being permanently unfinished.
Fortunately, it looks like the team behind Moss Destruction are releasing new content on a consistent schedule. Their content road-map seems robust, including “vicious bossfights, an expansive looting system, and secrets everywhere”.
Or at least this is what the game’s Steam Store page says!
Moss Destruction: Final Thoughts
Moss Destruction delivers a finely-paced, rogue-like, twin-stick shooter experience. While I’m not blown away by the stunning visuals or game play depth. I came away feeling pleasantly surprised and very confident in their willingness to make something unique. I think they are well on their way to doing so.
There is always a bit of a gamble with early access games. There is a possibility that the features they promised may never come out. But the communication by the development team so far has given me no reason to believe that will be the case. At a five dollar price point they aren’t exactly fleecing you either.