Minoria – Switch Review
Metroidvania? Check. Side-scroller? Check. Indie? Check. Inspired by Dark Souls? Check. Minoria ticks all the boxes when it comes to the hack-and-slash run-and-jump genre that’s rapidly ramping up in popularity, whether that be the husband-and-wife helmed Salt & Sanctuary, the beloved masterpiece Hollow Knight or the rogue-lite gem that is Dead Cells. However, with it being in such an oversaturated medium rife with bog-standard and average-at-best wannabes, does Minoria come out on top as a worthwhile delve?
Fast-paced combat that has you rolling through enemy attacks before clutching with a few slices is what you’d expect from a title such as Minoria, but it manages to take that format and bring it to the comfort of the Switch with slick, responsive controls that feel punchy whilst also retaining that silky smooth momentum that makes tumbling from foe-to-foe so enjoyable. The difficulty stems from the usual hiccups like a faulty-timed dodge or a greedy stab, with bosses punishing each wrong move, making for a tough but fair time. Throw in some nifty parrying and there’s plenty of high-reward, high-risk elements.
So, bog-standard stuff for the genre – it’s your classic Dark Souls with an indie spin to hammer the point home that it’s a post-FromSoftware era Metroidvania, but these are titles that are being pumped out in spades, with so many on offer that digging through them all would likely result in an empty wallet and a whole lot of burnout, so is Minoria up there with the likes of the aforementioned stand-outs? Well, yes and no. It has the combat down to a T but bosses are, for the most part, forgettable and not too far ahead in difficulty when compared to the average grunt. Animations for many of the moves, whether that’s rolling or slashing, are somewhat clunky and disappointing. It’s a truly well-made experience that, whilst not particularly noteworthy, serves its purpose, so if you’re itching for another Salt & Sanctuary, this will absolutely deliver, but otherwise, it’s not much to write home about.
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There’s not a whole lot of innovation or uniqueness in terms of the gameplay and there’s plenty of instances of weak-points displaying themselves a little too harshly, whether that’s being smacked with a rusty backhand when parrying or losing invincibility because of weird iframes. The high risk often pays off early game but quickly, the incentive to take these chances wears off as the pay-off oft becomes worthless.
Story / Personality
Like the titles it draws inspiration from, Minoria basks in its mysterious aesthetic that holds back on dumping exposition and filling the narrative to the seems with overt and blatant story-telling, opting to let the world flow naturally as you gradually indulge, with the option for more digging at your fingertips. The writing is fantastic and up to a higher brow than many of Minoria’s cohorts which is where it shines on its own two legs, especially given the interesting spin of playing as a ‘sister’ who embarks on a mission to purify the church, slaughtering the witches who have taken hold. It’s a well-intentioned journey that’s emboldened by the beautiful artwork.
Graphics / Art Direction
The gothic architecture toppled with the gloomy lighting makes for an unnerving atmospheric setting, toppled with the eerie religious overtones ever-so-prevalent from the nun-like garb to the wicked witches and their anime-clad appearances. Lighting and simplicity are where the graphics stand proud from the luscious blue outdoors to the beautiful and clean crisp white buildings with the faint clear silhouette of a distant city atop a mountainside looming in the back. Animations can get a little on the clunky and iffy side of things but at a stand-still, taking a moment to breathe in everything on display, Minoria is a treat.
Final Score: 71%
There are certainly more worthwhile ventures into the genre available on the Switch but Minoria is an enjoyable romp that feels like a worthy indulgence of its inspirations. A sequel could iron out the kinks and perhaps offer something more noteworthy, but as far as a series-kick-starter goes, this is a solid foundation to work from.
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