A lot of games take inspiration from older titles, whether it is the setting, gameplay mechanics or even the story. With the extremely huge amount of titles available to play, it comes as no surprise that some elements are definitely based from some other game, and honestly it is fine. It is not fine, however, that your game becomes almost the same as the one you were inspired by. Thankfully, Moonrise is not one of these games, and while it does seem inspired by classic games, it is definitely its own experience.
Moonrise is a free to play monster collecting online RPG, in which your character is a sort of monster tamer, called warden, and battle with the game’s creatures, called Solari. These Solari are little monsters who are stored in their own world through keys, which partly build up the F2P element. In the start of the game, you customize your warden’s appearance and choose one of three Solari, of water, fire and grass elements, who will be your first, and who will help you capture many more. If you notice any similarities with a hugely popular game, you are not wrong. Moonrise’s first minutes will remind you of Pokémon quite a lot, but apart from the starters and the capturing monsters, which in truth is the core mechanic of the game, there is not much else. Thus, defining Moonrise as a Pokémon RPG would take away from Moonrise’s own merits and that would be unfair.
The backstory of the game is that every few years a Moonrise, a natural phenomenon, happens, and turns Solari into Lunari. These Lunari live in the wild, and will not hesitate to attack your own Solari. You must hence attack them back, and when defeated you will remove the darkness from the creatures and you may take that Solari with you on your travels, or just leave it there. In order to capture the Solari you must use a key, which is either given to you as a reward from defeating Lunari or Warden battles, and also after a set amount of time. Each 40 minutes a key is awarded to you up to a maximum of 5. Apart from battling Lunari, you can also battle against AI opponents to earn coins, and also battle online players. More on the online part in a bit.
The core mechanics of the game revolve around battling Solari, obviously. When not in battle, you can upgrade your Solari with Essences, found after defeating Lunari, or also by using Skill Items, which teach your Solari new skills. In battle, you can field one or two Solari at once, and when one is defeated you can substitute the fainted with a fresh one from your party. The warden plays a very active role in combat, since like Solari he can use skills against enemies or buff your teammates. You can only carry a maximum of six Solari in battle, but these can be changed on the fly whenever out of battle, which is extremely handy when wanting to field a Solari you just captured. The health of Solari resets immediately after combat ends, so you can just keep spamming battles and your Solari will be able to play even though they fainted in the battle before. This is not possible in dungeons though, where health will play an important factor. Thankfully, the game prompts the player before entering the dungeon to take HP Crystals, which regenerate various amounts of health between battles.
Speaking of dungeons, these are probably the most fun bit of the offline game. Dungeons may feature a number of levels, and to clear the dungeon you must finish the topmost floor. In dungeons, you are faced with battles, each of which opens up the way towards the boss fight to clear the floor. Each battle won will increase the reward which can be earned upon defeating the boss, so it is useful to not face the boss as he is unlocked, but complete all the battles possible beforehand. Dungeons also are part of the F2P model, with a maximum of 3 floors at one go. They replenish slower than keys, but the need for these “floor passes” will not be as high as the one for keys.
Coming back to the online section of the game, Moonrise features two modes; there is a standard, unranked challenge which is unlimited, and then there is Arena mode, which can only be accessed through a ticket, of which one is earned every 16 hours. There is a maximum of 1 ticket, so you can only use a ticket once per day, unless you use one at 4am and then at 8pm. Honestly speaking, waiting 16 hours a day for this mode is worth it. The game gives you a number of high level Solari and a set of Skill items for both Warden and Solari, and you manage them as you like. Then you head into battle with other Wardens who have received another set of high Solari and Items, thus pretty much evening the game and putting emphasis on skills rather than Solaris owned. The battle can then end in two ways; defeating all the Solari of a Warden or defeating the Warden itself. The majority of my battles ended with the Warden being defeated, so I recommend heavy use of AOE attacks, mainly from the Warden since normally Solari cannot attack the trainers. In Arena mode, three chances are given with each ticket, and when defeated, a chance is decreased. Winning does not restore chances but it does not decrease them either, so a winning spree will keep you online. Upon reaching three losses you are out, and a reward is attained, depending on the number of wins you have registered, just like dungeons.
Moonrise is one of the most addicting games I have ever played, and with good reason. For a F2P title to have this much content is almost unheard of, and combined with how fun the game plays, it would be criminal to not give Moonrise a shot. Story mode is fun, dungeons are very well done and Arena mode is an absolute blast to play, so hopefully the game rises above F2P assumptions and makes it big. It definitely has the potential to do so.