March to the Moon (80 MSP) is an instant leaderboard game that you’d be crazy not to try if you’re a shooter enthusiast. Not that I’d ever demand you buy a game without a reason, so, alright, (cracks knuckles) here we go. March to the Moon is a vertical shooter where you’ll choose your brand of shooting from twelve (!) character classes like the guns blazing types (Hunting, Engineer), the support / cerebral roles (Runes, Necromancer) or others that tread the line in-between.
You’ll take on waves of eclectic enemies, small at first, but soon filling the entire screen. And you’re doing this because you’re the hero that’s offered to clean out a basement full of rats, setting up a chain of events that will send you on a march to the moon (oh it’s possible), past alligators and goblins, to fight against farm animals (cows, pigs, and chickens) that have raised an army and displaced the resident moon aliens. So, yeah.
But once you get past the premise and basic art design, and level up some, you’ll gradually uncover the game’s brilliant, more RPG than RPG-like character crafting and customization. Each class has multiple abilities (easily over a hundred between them all) you can put upgrade points into, from standard fire to magic attacks to summoning minions, and passive traits that amplify other powers and yourself, or give bonuses against certain enemies.
Despite reusing art and the same four stage types, March to the Moon dodges repetition with the reward of incremental progress and incentives. It cleverly extends the length of the game (to 4-5 hours) by having the player hit a ‘reset’ at the end of each difficulty setting on the Moon, which adds new story elements and one-liners to the same levels, now with tougher and remixed enemies. With eight levels per ‘world’, of which there are four, or 32 stages per playthrough, for a total of 96, you won’t run out of things to shoot.
Which is good, as this ‘reset’ also expands your already-deep skill trees’ point limits, allowing you to grow in proportion to the new challenges. And really the whole progression aspect in MttM, from stages to skill growth to enemy balance, is handled perfectly, letting you evolve while slowly evolving itself into a serious bullet hell.
Even if the game becomes too difficult, you’re capable of solving the problem. You’re always only a ‘skill respec’ or XP Grind away from regaining the upper hand, save for your initial class selections, which are permanent. Don’t pick up two support classes with limited offensive powers, and you should be fine. Though given the different classes, creating multiple game saves to test out various combinations might not be a bad idea. With the sheer amount of options, I can’t see anyone having a bad experience with the game except by their own doing.
March to the Moon is quite literally everything I’ve ever wanted in a vertical-scrolling shooter, and even more I didn’t know I wanted. Combine the bizarre plot and enemies that continue as the difficulty levels scale comfortably, with the immediate ability to build (and rebuild at will) a character with whatever weapons, skills, and abilities you prefer, and you have a deeply-customizable, immensely-replayable RPG-shooter. Bottom line, buy it. It comes with the highest recommendation I can offer.