Rusted Moss (XSX) Review with stream

I’ve been saying it for years. To make just about any game instantly more fun, simply add a double jump or grapple hook. Rusted Moss firmly incorporates the latter and then some, establishing this as a well made Metroidvania about making the journey just as satisfying as reaching the destination and unlocking the new ability.

Unlike the stiff but still entertaining grapple mechanic of Bionic Commando, Rusted Moss is much more Umihara Kawase. Meaning, the grapple gun is springy, as if bounding high and low with a rubberband. It takes practice but makes you feel sort of like a Spiderman Ninja badass once you get the hang of it. Timing when to grapple, when to release, and the angle in which attach becomes imperative to success. Thankfully, the player is given the proper tools to pull off such magnificent maneuvers due to the 360 twin-stick control scheme. The compelling stage design can be a bit demanding at times, so easily frustrated players might need to look elsewhere, but that just means they become little moments of celebration when eventually overcome. Save stations are also ample, complete with one tap insta-save, so a checkpoint is never far behind should you require additional attempts.  

Like many other Playism titles, the 2D pixel art is gorgeous and is easily a high point. There is something about how the wavy pixels move so fluidly with each swing or how the background art creates tone from the foliage-filled environment. It is a great looking game and wish this exact style of pixel art was more mainstream. This is made all the more impressive because this was created by a very small development team.

If twin-stick grappling wasn’t enough, combat is just as intuitive and entertaining. Since an aiming crosshair is always on screen, the player knows exactly where to aim with the right stick. All major verbs are assigned to the shoulder/triggers too, confirming this game was designed from the ground up with twin-stick controls in mind.

Another very considerate feature comes from the included accessibly options. Having trouble with a boss fight? Switch to invincibility mode. Grapple sections require too many finger gymnastics to your liking? Activate the flight mode. There are many toggleable gameplay tweaks to set this game to the preference you desire. In fact, other games should reference these options because they are so well implemented. 

I guess my only complaint is one of controversy. Personally, I wish there was a little more direction on where to go next… which can defeat the point of a good exploratory action game. For example, an earlier segment in the game has the player on the east side of the map and a NPC instructs the player that the target is to the west. Well, yeah, literally the entire map is to the west from this point. A marker or some indicator would have prevented a good hour of aimless wandering. The thing is, the grapple gun and its bouncy characteristics means you can sneak into areas, sequence breaking a bit, when you think you might be going in the right direction. 

Rusted Moss is a high quality and different type of Metroidvania that takes under 10 hours to complete. The visual style merges perfectly with the incredible swinging mechanic, doubling down with the thoughtful twin-stick combat. It is basically the exploratory action platformer I have been waiting for since enjoying Super Metroid nearly 30 years ago. The swinging mechanic and twin-sticking work so well I can’t help but wonder how it would fare if Samus and Alucard adopted this style of gameplay. 

SCORE: 8/10

Don’t Forget About: Yumi’s Odd Odyssey (3DS)

Also Play: Spiderman (N64 or PS1)

Wait For It: Silk Song

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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