Against The Moon PC Review

Against the Moon is a challenging deck building strategy game in need of more content.

By Fragnarok, Posted 07 Oct 2020

In the far off future, the human race is on the brink of extinction. The few survivors are holding out inside the ancient city of Arx. However, the monstrous aliens known as Furos have begun roving the wasteland and attacking anyone that wanders about. Now, the Arx sarcophagus – the personification of the city itself – is leading a counterattack to safeguard humanity and stop the Furos’ onslaught. The bulk of this involves long-lost technology and a power source called Luma. 

Against the Moon uses a three-lane-by-four column card battle system. Players must protect the sarcophagus of Arx, which has a set amount of hit points that it can lose before it is destroyed. A lane may contain an Ultori hero, a special powerful warrior with boosted stats and potential passive abilities. For example, the fencer Amara might gain attack power when she suffers damage, while the seer Sophie may draw spare Arcana. Energy can also be built up to unleash powerful attacks from Ultori or even the Arx itself. This might include powerful stuns, direct damage to the strongest foe regardless of their position, and attacking the entire enemy field.

Against the Moon|Code Heretic|Black Tower|Arx|Ultori|PC|Steam
 

To assist the team, random Arcana cards are drawn each turn and Luma is generated at a set amount. Arcana is divided into two types. On the one hand, there are minions that occupy one of the twelve squares to attack and defend their lane. On the other, you have powers that directly manipulate the field via team buffs, enemy debuffs, or other effects on the deck or other systems. The variety of Arcana is very robust. There may be minions that heal Ultori, increase Luma generation, or even selfishly damage the Arx to boost their own offense. There are also powers that may make an Ultori invincible for a turn, stun enemy minions, or even draw additional Arcana. Each Arcana costs a set amount of Luma, from zero to possibly more than can be generated in a single turn. This leads to strategies involving Luma management versus the actual strength of the Arcana itself.

The game is completely designed for player vs enemy combat. The computer-controlled Furos side does not need to operate on the same rules and often has an unbalanced gimmick that needs to be overcome. The Furos leader (the enemy equivalent to Arx) may have an absurd amount of extra hit points, heavy debuffs, or may not need to worry about Luma spend when bringing out minions. A match might also have a unique objective to victory, such as surviving for a set amount of turns. This can often result in matches going south as the Furos release a barrage of damage or install a barrier that takes multiple turns to break. Some players may welcome the unpredictable challenge, but often the randomness can appear as completely unfair.
 

 Against the Moon|Code Heretic|Black Tower|Arx|Ultori|PC|Steam

Against the Moon features three game modes at the moment. Prologue introduces the world, initial heroes, and slowly onboards players to the game’s mechanics. Monstro is the story proper following specific Ultori and unleashes the full force of the battle system. Luma Run is an endurance mode where the Arx does not recover hit points after a match, resulting in a permanent game over once they are finally defeated. Prologue and Monstro can be finished in a total about 4-5 hours. This leaves Luma Run as the bulk of potential gameplay for the initial release. Though, the Monstro campaign ends in a place that allows Code Heretic to add in new story based chapters and other content in the future. In fact, the developer has promised that new features are planned.

Both Prologue and Monstro feature motion graphic cutscenes to highlight the story, with most of them being fully voice acted. The voice actors give a serviceable performance, but are otherwise unremarkable. The story itself is generic science fiction, with the Furos serving as alien force originating from the Moon. The Ultori are humanity’s final defense to protect civilization and safeguard the Luma supply. While the plot may not be that compelling, it does serve to set up the actual battles within a campaign mode. Additionally, during some cutscenes, the player may be given dialogue choices that impart stat gains or even penalties.


 Against the Moon|Code Heretic|Black Tower|Arx|Ultori|PC|Steam
 

Finishing campaign missions may unlock brand new or alternate Ultori to be used within Luma Run. Missions will also reward research points that can be taken to the laboratory to try and acquire random new Arcana. While in a campaign proper, players will have additional options to upgrade Ultori and manipulate Arcana with custom mutations, but these choices are not permanent and will be reversed when entering a different mode.

The game only allows a single save slot and automatically overwrites after a match concludes. This means that players can’t jump around different modes and scenarios and may accidently erase their progress. For example, quitting out during a Luma Run match will completely delete the save file. This seems to be a measure to prevent cheating, but comes off a rather extreme. A compromise could be a match save state that allows players to continue where they left off.


 Against the Moon|Code Heretic|Black Tower|Arx|Ultori|PC|Steam
 

Against the Moon is a competent but not overly amazing card battler. Many encounters can wind up more frustrating than fun from unlucky draws and seemingly overpowered foes. The story is short, leaving only a single mode left to keep players busy. Hardcore fans of both deck building and endless rogue-likes may be enticed enough to grab the game at its full $19.99 USD price tag. Others should consider waiting until a sale or further updates to warrant the cost. 

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Black Tower
Developer(s): Code Heretic
Genres: Roguelike Deckbuilder, Strategy
Themes: Post-apocalyptic
Release Date: 2020-09-24

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