What can be said about Getsu Fuma Den : Undying Moon? Successor to the 1987 Konami game Getsu Fuma Den, a game that never came to North America and was never translated to English. How does a game so detached from its predecessor fair? Quite well in fact.
You play the game as Getsu Fuma who is the Leader of the Getsu clan and tasked with guarding the land of the living against the agents of the underworld. Along with an arsenal of weapons and skills you venture into the underworld to stop the incursion from boiling over.
The game plays as a rogue-lite action platformer. as you travel into the depths of hell you gain access to new weapons, abilities and are able to strengthen your character. Each time you die you are able to carry some of the materials you collected back to your base to be spent on upgrades. Similar to Dead Cells, you have 2 main weapons which you can swap with the press of a button and 2 sub weapons (usually traps or ranged) that can be exchanged for new ones as you find them or upgrade.
There are a ton of different currencies from gold, spirit stones, weapon tokens, to monster parts, all of which are used to get different permanent or temporary power ups. Controls are very tight allowing for small maneuvers even while jumping and is simple enough to get the hang of. Combat is very hack and slash where using fast combos on small enemies works well. Bosses are more hp sponge like but have enough variety in their move set to keep things interesting. Everything is telegraphed so you can learn their patterns. Probably the most difficult part about enemies and bosses is that they hit hard so you only get a couple mistakes with a bosses move set and it’s time to start a new run.
There is a wide selection of weapons you have access to. Everything from the standard katana to muskets to magic bracers to spray your enemies with fire, all of which have unlockable upgrades and can be ranked up for use in a single play through. The game play focuses on dodging and jumping to avoid enemy attacks as there is only one way to block using the umbrella weapon. Parries using the katana are nice but the timing is difficult to pin down.
Aesthetically the game is very unique, using classic Japanese art and mythology to influence the characters, enemies, bosses, and levels. The use of bold contrasting colors make you keep your eyes glued to the screen while playing although I did find things to be a bit busy at times. I think where this game excels is in boss design, my god when I ran into that first boss all I could think was this is terrifying and awesome. The music and sound is wonderful, again borrowing from classic Japanese themes and mixing in some heavy rock/metal.
Level design is okay, there is some randomization but I was able to find some patterns fairly quickly and even though it was meant to be maze-like it’s not any more difficult than the ones you find on the kids place-mats at a restaurant. That being said there were a few noticeable inconsistencies with level layout, some having tons of portals (sometimes too many) for backtracking and others having virtually none.
In terms of difficulty, Getsu Fuma Den is not as challenging as some other rogue-lite or soulsborne when it comes to bosses and enemies. I think the biggest roadblock is being able to upgrade. You retain a pitifully small amount of materials when you die so prior to getting the 30% retention upgrade it was painful to get any progress. So the game starts out way more difficult than it has to and actually gets easier as you go.
As a whole Gestu Fuma Den is a fun, fast-paced, action platformer who style is rooted in Japanese lore and if you enjoyed Dead Cells or other quick rogue-lites you’re probably going to have fun with this one too, not to mention it’s at a budget price.