Siliconera reached out to developer Rdein of Bombservice to talk about the longstanding series of Momodora game, of which this release is the fourth, asking the developer what keeps bringing them back to the same world and how they make this series stand out in such a popular genre.
Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Momodora: RUtM) has a longer history of games than some might expect. Can you tell us a little bit about the games and lore that have already come in the series?
The games are set in a fictional world, and you usually play as a priestess who makes use of weapons such as sacred leaves and seeds to fend off evil spirits.
The plot of Momodora: RUtM goes off in a similar fashion. The Queen of an eastern Kingdom used her sorcery to attempt to mend the world of the living and the world of the dead. By doing so, several spirits from the underworld have invaded different parts of the living world. This is why Kaho, a priestess from the village of Lun, goes off on a journey to the east to find and seal the source of the problem.
Even though the Momodora games are basically standalone stories, they all sort of connect in a way or another, and feature similar themes, enemies, and elements.
What keeps you coming back to the same world? Why do you stick to making games in this series?
I am attached to the characters and themes, so I’m always challenging myself to make a new entry in the series with improvements. Even the crazy spin-offs in my head involve the same characters, such as Momo and Dora in this post-apocalyptic robot society.
How do you keep the games fresh and exciting for yourself to make?
It’s great to use your past experiences to try to make something even more incredible and polished. Whenever I release something, I can’t help but feel "I know I can do better than this". This feeling of always trying to improve your own work definitely helps when starting a new project.
The pixel movement looks quite striking in motion. How long does it take you to work out all of the animations for a character? For a location? How do you work to make these animations look so smooth?
I work very closely with Hernan, the main animator for Momodora: RUtM, to make sure all the animations look and feel good. We put a lot of thought in how certain motions should be done, how one animation flows into the other. For example, I often request that attack motions should have more of an aggressive snap to it.
How long it takes to make an animation depends on the complexity of the movement. Sometimes it’s tough to get them to move like the way we want right away. To make smooth animations, we focus on making good keyframes and interpolating between them while drawing as many individual frames separately as possible.
With platforming adventures or Metroidvanias being such a common genre these days, how did you work to make Momodora: RUtM stand out?
This is difficult to answer! I think the main draw is the game being focused on satisfying combat/gameplay, and the visuals. We worked to make boss battles exciting, for example.
The combat style of Momodora: RUtM doesn’t change much throughout the whole game. How do you keep finding new ways to challenge the player with this simple combat style? To introduce depth with only a few moves?
By introducing new enemies, and by adjusting the placement of enemies on the map, it’s possible to completely change the difficulty of an area. Different areas in the game have their own unique enemies that might offer challenges that are different from the ones faced elsewhere by the player. For example, an area with ambushes of enemies, or an area with lower visibility. This train of thought is also applied to bosses.
As a compliment to the leaf/bow combat, there’s several items the players can make use of to increase the depth of the combat. For example, arrows that might look useless against an armored enemy could be combined with a poison-inducing item, effectively changing the way you fight. This equipment system was first tested in Momodora III, where you could equip certain items to obtain passive bonuses. In Momodora: RUtM, both passive items and active items can be used to spice things up.
Momodora: RUtM is quite challenging, with Kaho dying in only a few hits against most basic enemies. Why did you make the game so difficult?
Making the game difficult for the sake of frustration was never the goal. We made the game with the intent to let the players master the controls and overcome the challenges that are presented. We understand some players might be more familiar with this style of gameplay, while others wouldn’t be so familiar with it. That’s why we implemented a total of 4 difficulty levels you can pick from.
What thoughts go into creating an item or power for a game like Momodora: RUtM? How do you keep it all balanced?
My first thought is "how is this item going to affect the core gameplay? Will it be fun to use? Will it be useful?". I try to think of potential synergies between different items, too. Keeping it balanced is the most difficult part, and we rely a lot on playtesting to make sure the different spells and attacks come out decently balanced.
Do you think you will come back to this world for Momodora V? Whether you are or not, what’s your next project have in store for your fans?
I don’t really want to reveal anything right now, because we aren’t really sure how things are going to work out for us. We’d love to keep making bigger and better games, though!