As soon as I fired up Stories of Bethem: Full Moon it felt like I was instantly transported back to the golden age of 8 bit retro games, think Pokemon (the early years) or even the classic Legends of Zelda and add to this a young boy on a quest to save his father and you have the making of a feel good top down puzzler, or do you?

Developed by GUGames Development Stories of Bethem: Full Moon puts you in the boots of Khoma, on a quest to save his father who has been cursed by the evil Blue Witch. The only one that can save his father and break the evil spell is in fact the not so evil Red Witch (see where we are going here) and the game takes you on that journey. Now rather than just heading over there and game done thank you very much, GUGames have decided to put a few challenges in the form of combat, puzzle solving and exploration in your way, you know just to make the game a bit more interesting and last longer.

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As you travel through the Kingdom you will notice that the world is split in to several different habitats giving you a real sense that you are travelling through different regions. One minute you are in a lush green forest and grassy area, the next a bleak and dusty desert. This all adds to the atmospheric appeal of the game and back this with an appropriate soundtrack to accommodate these zones it really does set the scene. Unlike some games of the past, this is one game that won’t simply put you on a road to the end, you are going to have to find it yourself. Not only will you explore the kingdom above ground but you will also venture below, deep into the underground caverns of mazes and labyrinths that are scattered through the world. The mazes themselves are formed of puzzles containing the usual pull a switch here and push a box there but however simplistic that might be, felt rewarding to complete. The surprise for me came when I encountered my first end of labyrinth boss. Now I wasn’t expecting this as I thought once I had made it to the end I was scot free and could continue my quest for the Blue Witch but low and behold a challenge faced me that I would have to overcome.

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Combat in the game is different from your normal sword wielding Zelda type. You have no sword, you have no shield, you are armed with just magic and for the first part of the game only one spell, and a weak one at that. Of course when it comes to using magic you have its partner in crime, Mana Points. This of course leads to you using your spells wisely as before you know it you have run out. Trust me, this can really put you in some tricky situations and there is nothing worse than running around being chased by a monster while you wait for your Mana Points to refill. The good news is that there is always handy magic potions around to refill your points and also the meter will slowly regenerate over time. Saying this though you will find at certain points in the game the end of level boss it just too strong and without the ability to defend yourself properly you will find yourself running around in circles while you slowly whittle down its health.

Magic is just not used for combat. It is widely used in the world to move objects, push rocks and bushes to reveal new routes, unlock doors and solves puzzles. This means again that your Mana is in constant use, so you need to be aware of how much you have (I don’t mean obsessively, just keep an eye on it) as it’s not only the dungeons and labyrinths that contain creatures that you will have to fight. Moving from one area to another and then back again will respawn all the foes you have slain before so just be aware. This is useful to know as you will need to backtrack to discover new areas, unlock new skills and this is half the fun of the game but it can also be the frustrating part.

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The game’s look and feel is lovely, bringing the world you explore to life in colorful and bright pixel art. It’s one of the better ones I have seen in a while and the birds eye view perspective of the game just adds to this. The character movement is fluid and time has been spent to ensure that all eight directions of movement across the map have been done with the same quality. As mentioned before, the music sets the scene as you play for each region and you will find yourself bouncing along to the beautiful strings and synths that have been composed for each region.

Is there anything bad about this game? The one thing I would say is that sometimes you don’t know where to go or are totally confused when you get no assistance on what to do next, but overall this isn’t enough to ruin a good game. If you are looking for a ground breaking RPG, this then isn’t for you. If you are looking for a clean and crisp old school 90’s adventure, with lots of puzzles, exploration and challenges that will keep you busy for at least 25+ hours then at a price of £6.39 you can’t go wrong.

Thanks to Xbox and GUGames Development for supporting TiX