The rogue-like sub-genre of action games has been on the rise for the last decade. Most have gone with a dark and somewhat dingy motif over the years, but Night of the Blood Moon changes things up a bit. It uses a very colorful palette with a fairly high amount of detail. The environments have a healthy variety to them, ranging from underground stone-filled dungeons, grassy areas, and red-tinted pyramid-looking areas.
It has a fairly interesting premise too. You use the darkness of a dark moon to return to the world of the living from the world of nightmares. Going into the dream world allows you to grab weapons, increase your power, and destroy everyone you see to the best of your ability. Skill trees allow you to improve by bits and pieces, and leveling up enables you to pick and choose just what you want to improve upon faster. This is developer Tyler McDermott's first game, and his goal is to challenge players with a variety of tough challenges. Unlike a lot of games, this doesn't have you playing as a hero. Now, you play as a nightmarish character out to massacre all sorts of cute creatures.
Weapon variety is a huge part of the game, with a blend of short and long-range ones available. Animalistic characters have things like claws to use in both a short-range attack and a longer range one to grab and attack enemies from afar. The former attacks do more damage and are riskier, while the longer range attacks do less damage but put the player in less harm. Positioning plays a large part in your success or failure as well. Weapons like the boomerang and hookshot allow you to attack from a longer distance - but if you aren't careful, you will miss and leave yourself wide open for attack. Properly positioning yourself ensures that your shots will hit correctly the first time and ensure that you have a better chance of survival.
The worlds of the game are diverse and while you will be tested at all times, you aren't battling the world on your own. Pet helpers are available and you can earn them throughout the course of the adventure. They allow you to have an ally that can either fight alongside you, heal you, or find items for you. In that sense, they're kind of like the back-row characters one would use in a tactical RPG. They're helpers who you can rely on in battle, but not really have on the frontlines. They aren't bullet sponges and you need to make sure they're protected to help you over the long haul.
Bosses are a big part of the game too and will test your mettle. Overhead rogue-likes like Titan Quest have used bosses as a way to teach people how to play a game the hard way - and that holds true here too. You will need to learn their patterns and figure out weaknesses in order to excel. Being able to topple one is meant as a major accomplishment and something that you will truly earn and not be given. Night of the Blood Moon will be released on both Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows PCs on January 21, 2019, via Steam. There's no word on pricing, but $20 or under would be a fairly safe bet given the genre. With its bright art style and emphasis on challenge, it should stand out in the crowd once the new year hits.