Moonfall Ultimate Xbox One review: Frustrating gameplay and little personality

Moonfall Ultimate fails to live up to its "ultimate" name.

Moonfall Ultimate sells itself as a "2D side-scrolling, action-RPG, set in an industrial gothic universe." That premise alone should perk up some ears. It sounds awesome. Its opening cinematic cutscene further makes Moonfall Ultimate look like it's going to have an impactful story. A fallen king. An Empire under great threat. It makes for a compelling narrative, but Moonfall Ultimate fails to capitalize on its potential. To make matters worse, the meat of the game—its combat—is lackluster at best.

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Shooting for the stars

Fishcow Studio set up a spectacular premise but were unable to cash in. What you get is a watered-down, forgettable story with equally forgettable characters. Not every game needs to be iconic or memorable to be good, Moonfall Ultimate just sells itself in the opening minutes as something more than it is and ends up being disappointing because of it.

To put it more simply, Moonfall Ultimate is generic. There's nothing special to its story—much of which is tertiary and relegated to notes, its levels, or its combat. Other games have come before it and have certainly done this genre better.

Stiff gameplay

Stiff movement hurts what could have been great characters to control. While you are able move up or down on the screen, your character can only aim left or right with whichever weapon you have equipped, making it difficult at times to accurately hit an enemy. You may frequently find yourself slashing against air, especially since you cannot move your character while you are attacking. Combined with weightless, unsatisfying melee combat, it ends up feeling rather stiff when ideally it should be fluid. You eventually get accustomed to it and are able to mitigate these frustrations through sheer experience, but it's jarring to get used to at first.

Between Moonfall Ultimate's three character classes—Vanguard, Elementalist, and Shadow—there are several unique special abilities that can give you the upper hand in combat, like a threatening roar or ice projectiles. Unfortunately, you cannot accurately aim any of them with precision either. This doesn't matter for a few of them as they only effect a small radial area, but it makes using certain abilities frustrating.

I gave each character class a quick spin before settling into the one I preferred, the Vanguard, which I personally found to be the most powerful. Both the Shadow and Elementalist felt underpowered the first few levels of the game, and I quickly found myself stocking up on health potions when playing as them. Despite this, offering a few different character classes adds a versatility that would have otherwise been absent. Depending on your playstyle, you may gravitate toward one or another.

Lifeless world

Though the levels themselves—which harbor dozens of different enemy archetypes—are designed well with detailed environments, the world feels lifeless. Its intended atmosphere has no real personality to it. Everything from its UI and menus to its art style looks bland. While the graphics are, on a technical sense, well-drawn themselves, they aren't all that appealing.


Moonfall Ultimate was supposed to be an improved version of the original Moonfall. Though I haven't played the original, that makes me nervous if this is what's being passed off as "improved." There are a lot of finer details to love under a dearth of bland mechanics and a forgettable story.


  • Gothic setting
  • Character classes


  • Wasted potential
  • Lackluster combat
  • Bland art
  • Unintuitive default button mapping
  • Slow start

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Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.