Touhou Luna Nights tells the story of Sakuya Izayoi, the maid of Remilia Scarlet, the head vampire of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, who has been dispatched to a parallel world to Gensokyo; the typical world for the Touhou universe. Sakuya will need to use her ability to stop or slow down time in order to explore the mysterious area and figure out why Remilia sent her there.
Touhou Luna Nights is a 2D Metroidvania game that requires players to explore every area in order to find new skills in order to keep progressing further into the new world. It also requires a bit of backtracking as you’ll have to return to often find an unreachable area with newly acquired skills. The heroine’s main weapon is daggers which are dependant from an MP meter; once it’s empty, you can’t defend yourself anymore until the meter is filled up.
There are two main ways to refill your MP meter; the first one being soda machines peppered across the map which also refills your health meter. Or by simply stopping time and standing nearby enemies, you will absorb MP from so you’re never in a defenceless situation. As you progress, you’ll get additional skills which all of which will consume a various amount of MP; for example, standard knife attacks can take about 10MP while using the auto-target knives will consume 90MP.
The core gameplay is centered around time manipulation. The first skill Sakuya learns is the ability to freeze and slow down time. A skill that allows players to overcome seemingly blocked areas, kills fast-moving enemies and also giving players a shot at taking down the game’s fast-paced boss battles. It’s definitely the game’s strong point as it adds a layer of strategy. Seeing as you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to freeze things around you, you have to think wisely before freezing time, this is especially true during boss battles. You don’t want to end up screwed by a powerful attack because your timer didn’t refill on time.
You can also level up as you kill enemies, unfortunately, it feels completely pointless as normally levelling up is accompanied by increasing health and magic meters, but in Touhou Luna Nights, you’ll find those hidden across the various areas. There’s also a handy shop where you can purchase usable items such as HP or MP replenishment or skills like an increased number of knives thrown when time is stopped.
Unfortunately, not all is perfect within Touhou Luna Nights. The game’s biggest hurdle for most players will be the boss battles. They are brutal. Bosses do a lot of damage (even on the easier difficulty setting) while you do the minimum damage. And on top of that, after they lose about half of their health, they will start using a powerful attack which will take out a huge chunk of health if not avoided. Often times, it can be avoided thanks to the time manipulation skill, but it’s not always obvious how to time it properly.
Touhou Luna Nights features a 16bit visual style; where each of the map’s areas is uniquely designed. A few areas also are reminiscent of Castlevania aesthetic. There’s also a decent enemy variety as each area has its own set of enemies; some of which can return from one area to another, but they’ll have slight differences in their attacks or patterns. The soundtrack is a bit darkish-upbeat and sounds very much Castlevania inspired with gothic inspired vibes. It’s not as memorable as Castlevania OSTs, but it’s definitely perfect here.
Touhou Luna Nights is definitely one of the best Metroidvania games. It’s fun, addictive, easy to pick up and play and features a setting that can be reminiscent of the Castlevania games. The time manipulation definitely adds to the fun factor as it can be used in a myriad of ways. Finding and using new skills that opens up more of the map is always one of the best things about Metroidvania games. If you can overcome and push through the difficult boss battles, you’ll definitely find one of the most action-packed experiences of the year.
- Great addition to the Metroidvania genre
- Time Manipulation is a great mechanic
- Boss battles are brutal