Released in 2019, “Minoria” is a 2.5D action-metroidvania from Bombservice meant to act as a spiritual successor to the Momodoria series. Having no real experience with the Momodoria series, I cannot comment on how faithful it is to previous titles, but I can say that I really enjoyed “Minoria” and think it is GREAT. There are some quality-of-life omissions that bug me and some information that is not conveyed properly, but those are more ‘general’ concerns as they have to do with replayability and getting to experience everything the game has to offer, which is not really something I was looking to do; as far as my experience is concerned and what I care about in a title like “Minoria”, I couldn’t be happier with what I got.
Let’s get those concerns out of the way first. “Minoria” is a game that requires a second playthrough to see everything for a few reasons that I’m not in agreement with; firstly, there are two main endings and to see both, you need to finish the game twice and pick a different final choice from your first time. Secondly, there is lore and achievements that only unlock after you start your second playthrough, and finally, getting through each boss without getting hit is required to unlock a special ending. This is not something that I would normally do, and “Minoria” was no exception; however, seeing as after you defeat a boss there is no way to have that fight again unless you restart from the beginning, and the game does not state that you would need to do that in order to get something cool at the end, I can see how some people would be irritated by that. Personally, I’m not really into hunting down every piece of collectible or seeing all possible endings, so this didn’t affect my enjoyment, but I was surprised to see this decision.
Having said that, there are plenty of reasons you would want to see everything this game has to offer, because of how high the quality is. “Minoria” is about a couple of nuns sent to a castle to deal with witches and soon find out that they’ve taken over the place and have began preparations to hold a ceremony that seems very dangerous. The first thing you will notice as you step into the shoes of Sister Semilla (the playable protagonist) is how beautiful the game is and how inventive its designs are. Every character has a lot of detail and creativity poured into them with the gameplay at the forefront of the designer’s thoughts; some are simple creatures that have great readability in their intentions, others are more outlandish, and others are more standard like knights and nuns. My small nitpick is that the castle area that the first couple of hours are spent in can look a bit bland, but there is a lot more variety coming later on and it does have some nice details and surprises along the way. The second thing you will notice is that this looks like it took inspiration from the Soulsborne genre (it did) and it feels fantastic to control; the animations are good, but the fluidity, speed, and impact of Semilla’s sword and abilities are really satisfying with great visual feedback. Moreover, the telegraphing of intentions, timing of parries and dodges, and the accessibility of a game that takes so much inspiration from a genre that is known for its challenge, is nothing short of impressive; I don’t mind a challenging game, but a game that uses my progress to add tension and stakes to a fight is an anxiety I cannot stomach. Thankfully, “Minoria” takes inspirations but does add its own touch to the formula; for example, the equivalent of bonfires doesn’t respawn enemies, they respawn when you move off screen, so it drove me to keep moving forward and made exploration tense, but not overbearingly so. Levelling is permanent, but currency that you use to gain abilities (and abilities themselves) are scattered throughout the world, so earning your way forward is still maintained. Boss fights are pretty challenging (as is the whole game), but they don’t feel especially tough (with a few exceptions), which leads me to believe that the extra challenge of not getting hit, is meant for the hardcore fans of the genre that seek it, while noobs like me can just enjoy the game.
With that in mind, what really impressed me in “Minoria” is the directing and pacing of the experience. You will explore an area, get currency and fight a few enemies, maybe get a new ability for combat or a new exploration ability, find secrets and new pathways (some cannot be accessed yet), fight a new boss, then get directed to a new area through some of the places you’ve already been in that now can be accessed. This is all standard stuff for the genre, but this feels especially solid, since the game rarely feels like it is repeating a formula or making you do things to pat out the runtime. Moreover, the combat doesn’t really change and the bosses can be defeated with the same playstyle, so it doesn’t challenge your ability to master all the mechanics of the game, but it subtly nudges you towards new ideas; for example, a boss might have a prolonged animation for an attack and you could defeat them by running away from that attack and hitting them once before they start another attack, or you could master the dodge and get lots more hits in before you need to avoid an attack again. This, in conjunction with the various combat abilities and new weapons found throughout the game and their ability to change my playstyle, kept me entertained and feeling like I was always progressing and that I was mastering the game, which is exactly what I had hoped when I started the game.
There are some minor flaws here and there, like some sound effects that are not great and will be repeated often, or some spikes in difficulty (both upwards and downwards) that could have been ironed out, but overall “Minoria” is GREAT and I highly recommend it to fans of the genre or anyone looking for a great action/adventure game that won’t empty their pockets or take up too much of their time.