[Review] MO: Astray – Nintendo Switch

Written by Brett Hill
  • Developer: Archpray Inc.
  • Publisher: Rayark
  • Price: $14.99 / £11.39
  • Release Date: 10/09/2020
  • Review code provided by Rayark

Introducing: MO: Astray Switch Review

Meet Mo, a turquoise blob who oozes personality and has no fear, it seems impossible to feel compassion and empathy for an object that lacks emotion. But the guys over at Archpray have created a game that captures all those feelings and will have you rooting for the bouncy little fella. Archpray have cleverly intertwined simple gameplay mechanics and captivating storytelling with the end product being a pretty spectacular 2D platformer.

MO: Astray was originally released on Steam just under a year ago and with the reception being mainly positive, it is great to see the pixelated puzzle adventure make its way over to the Switch.

Mo’s life began in an abandoned laboratory which has become overgrown with wildlife, vegetation and local inhabitants. With the help from a mysterious voice, find out the truth about what happened to Mantis Corp.

The Birth

The controls are easy to pick up as you start the game with no abilities, the only movements to master are aim and jump. As you progress through the game, Mo will learn new techniques to overcome more challenging puzzles. My personal favourite, decapitating the undead. Yes you read that right, the cute gooey protagonist can remove the head from the enemy. If I have to be honest from first impressions I was expecting a family friendly puzzle game, boy I was wrong. It is a graphic and gory masterpiece with a sense of satisfaction every time you disembowel the antagonist and watch their insides spray across the screen.

MO: Astray is built up of 5 chapters each containing areas to explore and information to gather to find out the truth. One of your abilities is to become the host of your enemy letting you move and press buttons to open locked doors, but you can also read their mind which can give you vital information about the environment around you and tips on how to progress. For the completionists out there, you can collect the monsters memories to fill the database. There are also blue orbs to hunt down. These contain your own memories, for every 5 you collect you will earn 1 HP.

I did play through MO: Astray on normal difficulty and found the pace to be enjoyable but a little on the easy side due to the generous amount of checkpoints and health that regenerates quickly. For a first play through though it was great to absorb in the story and appreciate the world MO: Astray has to offer. Might have to crank the difficulty level up a notch or 2 on my next play through.

Thnks Fr Th Mmrs

My experience with Mo: Astray was mostly positive and played perfectly in both docked and handheld modes. I did have one issue though navigating the menu specifically between the end of chapter 2 and halfway through chapter 3, I could move up or down once but then it wouldn’t move. There was a work around by pressing the home button, back to the home screen then pressing it again returning to the game to move once then you would have to repeat again causing a few frustrating moments. I’m hoping this can be fixed in a future update.

Visually MO: Astray is pretty impressive, movement was smooth and interacting with the environment around you was flawless. On the surface Mo: Astray is a 2D pixelated platformer but if you look deeper it is rich in detail. For example one area had fungal like spores swaying side to side in a damp dark cave with water dripping from the ceiling into the puddles on the floor and a purple haze flooding in from the opening to the outside world. It was moments like this that reminded me how much I enjoyed my time with MO: Astray. Also the amount of detail that went into the sprites as well was ridiculous, the movement and shading gave it an almost 3D look making them stand out from the background.

The soundtrack complements the game and does a great job at creating tension and atmosphere in the right places especially during boss battles. On starting the game there is a message recommending you wear headphones and I would second that.

Bouncy Bouncy Oh Such A Good Time!!!

Due to the limitations of Mo it is essential to constantly think outside the box and find ways to manipulate your surroundings to progress. Timing is also imperative as you swing, jump and traverse from moving platforms and learning sequences plays a huge part in the game especially when taking down bosses. Their weakness is your attention to detail.

MO: Astray is crammed full of content with huge incentives to complete the main campaign as you unlock speed run mode and bonus content. The game is generously priced offering well over 20 hours of gameplay and many more if you want to 100% it and competitively take part in the speed runs.

Conclusion

MO: Astray is a must play for any 2D platformer but I would strongly recommend children or the faint hearted give this title a miss. Images of the first time I had to jump across a row of dead bodies hanging from a noose has been burned into my retinas. The refined but simple controls lets you jump straight into the game and the storytelling is compelling, keeping you hooked till the end as you find out the truth about W.B Labs and Mantis Corp. The gameplay is mostly a traditional platformer but has elements of puzzle solving and strategy thrown in for good measure keeping the player engaged. Archpray have achieved something quite rare with MO: Astray, no other game will draw you in and make you emotionally invested with a blob of goo.

Pros

  • Compelling story
  • Simple controls
  • Great soundtrack
  • Engaging gameplay

Cons

  • Bug in the pause menu stopping you from navigating up and down
  • Seems odd to say this but frequent checkpoints and fast regenerative health can make the game feel too easy in places.
  • Boss levels can be hectic in places making it feel like a fluke if you win.

Verdict
MO: Astray is a devilishly good 2D platformer. The pixelated visuals are breathtaking, the narrative is gripping and the gameplay is solid. Archpray have concocted the perfect formula for GOTY. MO we love you.



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