a hell of a Konami roguevania

Occurred in January 2021, the announcement of Konami’s internal restructuring had led more than someone to hypothesize that the historic Japanese software house was preparing to abandon the videogame market. Only a few weeks later, however, we discovered that the company is in excellent health, so much so that despite the pandemic, revenues from video games and collectible card games have registered a strong surge, allowing it to achieve record fiscal results. As if the numbers did not speak clearly enough, Konami, which in 2020 had already announced the development of Yu-Gi-Oh! Rush Duel for Nintendo Switch and above all a couple of tie-ins taken from the most recent manga by Hiro Mashima (for all the details see our preview of EDENS ZERO), during the recent Indie World he pulled out of his hat a further e very welcome surprise, even dusting off one of its historical intellectual property.

We are of course talking about the highly inspired GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, a 2D roguevania that next May 13 will be available on Steam in Early Access and in the course of 2022 also on the hybrid of the Kyoto House. Without further ado, we bring you our preliminary impressions of the vibrant and somewhat brutal action game being developed at the independent studio GuruGuru and Konami itself.

Journey to the center of Hell

As players with so many winters behind them may remember, in 1987 Konami published in Japan only a side-scrolling action game that responded to the name of GetsuFumaDen, which conquered the owners of the NES with surprising and mysterious atmospheres, an excellent musical accompaniment and not least a tasty mix of interesting mechanics.

a hell of a Konami roguevania

Set in the first year of the Age of Demons, the title told of the escape of Ryukotsuki, a powerful demon escaped from Hell to conquer the human world at the time ruled by the three Getsu brothers. Wielding the so-called Pulse Blades (relics handed down for generation in the Getsu family), the three kinsmen therefore faced the demonic creature, but were brutally defeated and only one of these survived the battle. In the role of Fuuma, whose goal was precisely to avenge the death of the brothers, the player was then called to explore a series of infernal islands to recover the Pulse Blades stolen from his clan and gain access to Ryukotsuki’s lair, so to settle the accounts once and for all. Although the product has not received any sequel, Konami has never completely forgotten its IP, so much so that in the following decades he repeatedly included cameos and references to GetsuFumaDen in his titles and even in the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game.

34 years after the onset of the progenitor, GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, whose release in the West has already been confirmed, will once again open the doors of Konami’s bloody imaginary to face a new threat. We still don’t know if the roguevania will act as a sequel or a reboot of the franchise, but in the meantime the publisher has provided us with the very first information on the narrative structure, which like its predecessor will put us against frightening hordes of demons.

After nearly 1000 years of peace, the seal placed on the door of Hell was torn open, as a result an immense wave of evil spirits swept over the surface world. One step away from total destruction, Getsu Fuma (a hero to whom Konami has given the same name given to the protagonist of the original GetsuFumaDen) will be forced to take command of his own clan and eradicate the source of evil that lurks in the depths of ‘ Hell, facing on the way some beings that are nothing short of terrifying as a colossal centipede, an immense arachnid, a five-headed hydra and the skeleton returned to the life of Ryukotsuki himself.

The resources of the demon slayer

If at the moment we don’t have enough elements to verify the goodness of the narrative system, the announcement trailer of GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon however, he reassured us regarding the gameplay and the artistic sector. The product will in fact offer a frenetic combat system in a hack’n’slash key, which will mix Japanese martial arts moves with a wide range of weapons to be mastered over time.

As shown by the short gameplay sequences included in the video, Getsu Fuma will have a rather varied fighting style and arsenal, which users will be able to adapt to the situation. Although it is not yet clear how the character will switch from one weapon to another (in the original GetsuFumaDen it was necessary to open the pause menu and change equipment), the hero will always carry a long sword with which cleanly cut the demons encountered along their path, a fearsome spear with which to hit multiple targets at the same time and at the same time keep the minimum safety distance, a spiked club useful for killing the most voluminous and leathery evil spirits, the inevitable umbrella for mince the meat of the enemies, and finally a pair of katanas that will give life to very fast combos. A couple of shortcuts assigned to the controller’s triggers will also allow you to use secondary tools and weapons, such as the launch of the kunai or the classic bow, which judging from what we have seen will be particularly useful when we will have to face Oni able to float in half. air.

Being a roguelite, in GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon death will not be the end of the race, but we are still convinced that the title will have penalties that players will have to deal with in case of defeat. After all, the title launched in 1987 on NES punished the exhaustion of the lives available to the user by halving the money carried by the protagonist, slowing down the acquisition of power-ups. Returning to Undying Moon, it has already been explained that the maps of Hell will present a different layout and challenges with each new attempt, making permanent upgrades fundamental.

Along the way, players will in fact be able to collect souls with which to strengthen in real time and above all access the crafting system, which will allow them to strengthen their favorite tools of death and even to unlock new skills of the main and secondary weapons. In short, selecting the improvements with a pinch of strategy and imagination will be the key to overcoming the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, accessing new mechanics and continuing with the descent into Hell.

Between blood and tradition

Without taking anything away from what at first glance would be an articulated and deep play system, the graphic sector is the aspect of GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon that delighted us more than any otheror. In fact, Hell will be as deadly as it is fascinating, as GuruGuru and Konami Digital Entertainment, during the creation of the rich dark fantasy world, were able to infuse it with the trait and soul of traditional Japanese art.

The 2D levels have been drawn in the Ukiyo-e style (a block inking technique), with scenarios inspired by the flaming landscapes of the Underworld and the chilling Yokai that should populate them. As a result, playing GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon will feel like you are walking through beautiful animated paintings overflowing with blood, detail and color. Inspired by creatures of Japanese folklore, such as the gods Fujin and Raijin, who symbolize respectively the Wind and the Thunder, the immense demons that the protagonist Getsu Fuma will have to annihilate from level to level are splendid and frightening in equal measure, blending perfectly with the dark and violent setting of the product.

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