This is a Saga of the Moon Priestess review for Xbox. the game is also available for Nintendo Switch, PC and Playstation consoles.
I’m off on an adventure!
Nope, you’re not a Hobbit. Yes, you’re going on an adventure, but let’s start at the beginning. The game begins with you as a prince inside a castle. You wake up to a lot of noise and decide to check what the hell is going on. Bad idea! You end up being captured by an evil witch, and thus, your story ends.
Fast forward a bit to an entirely different part of the kingdom. The priestess Sarissa becomes aware of the evil that has happened. From this moment on, you play your part as Sarissa. You, as the said priestess, have some sort of connection to your goddess. But more importantly, you have a spear. Much more useful to finish off enemies (at least, I believe so).
Off to the dungeons wench!
This game has a standard buildup for an adventure game. You travel across the world into a town, meet people with quests for you to fulfill, and there’s an evil baddy at the end of a dungeon. And of course, let us not forget puzzles; we can’t have an adventure game without puzzles.
As soon as you are on your own and start traveling the world, you can clearly see that this game is inspired by classics in its genre. The devs don’t blatantly say it’s from Zelda, but they do admit they were inspired by 8-bit and 16-bit classics. Looking at the graphics style of Saga of the Moon Priestess and the layout of the entire world, I get serious Zelda vibes. Especially when considering the dungeons and how they are laid out, including the feel of the puzzles.
Okay, so the game has us traveling the world and questing to fetch stuff for people we have encountered. To truly progress, we have to find and enter a specific dungeon. These dungeons are made up of several rooms connected by either open or locked doors. To open the locked doors, you have to find the key somewhere inside the dungeon. The open doors, well, just walk through them. These dungeons often also have a key item in them that you really want to find. Be it to make life easier on yourself while playing the game, or be it to actually fight the boss of a dungeon (i.e. the gloves are such an item; you can’t beat the boss of the first dungeon without them).
As you play the game, your inventory gets stacked with gloves (to carry heavy boulders), bombs (to blow stuff up and create passages), arrows, and so forth. Most of these items we’ve all seen before and Saga of The Moon Priestess does nothing out of the ordinary. It just works. Why try to be overly creative and fail, when you can stick to the tried and tested old-time classics.
There is one tiny thing I have to call out concerning item management. You can’t switch items on the fly. The gloves and bombs are the ideal example. You need to equip the gloves to pick up heavy boulders, but this at the same time prevents easy access to the bombs, which are also an equippable item. Having to get to the menu to change these items and equip them is never blocking gameplay, and it doesn’t really get you into trouble with enemies. But it could have been made a fair bit easier. For now, it’s mainly a minor annoyance that holds up the gameplay.
Puzzles and layout of the rooms
Most puzzles in the game are well made and add an extra layer to the game. Some are very easy, some require some backtracking, and some are pretty cleverly made and made me smile when I got the solution. However it isn’t all hoorahs and applause. Sometimes the room’s layout did not marry happily with the overall layout of the game. There is a couple of instances where your health bar (in the upper left corner of the screen) is actually blocking part of the solution of a puzzle. This is a shame and a bit of a missed opportunity during the development stages of the game.
I must be seeing things….
Overall the game looks good. You and most characters are displayed in 8-bit style. A retro style that has been done ok. It surprised me when I got into a bossfight and the boss was displayed in 16-bit style. It was not off-putting or nothing, but it was an odd feeling. Call me a traditionalist, but I would have preferred a consistent style across the game.
If you have fond memories of Zelda games (like I do), you will most likely have a sweet spot for Saga of the Moon Priestess. A cute adventure-game that ticks a lot of nostalgia-boxes. Nice pixel graphics, decent sound and gameplay that doesn’t let too many things slip. Is it the GOAT of 2024? No, but it doesn’t aim to be. It is a game that is clearly inspired by it’s retro classic predecessors.
- Nice pixel graphics
- Takes inspiration of the classics and executes it pretty well
- Some nice and clever puzzles
- Layout of the screen blocks key part of the screen (solutions to puzzles)
- Switching out key items doesn’t feel fluent
- Weird mix-up of graphics style (8-bit and 16-bit)