Someone finally made the grappling hook Metroidvania of my dreams

 Rusted Moss
Rusted Moss

I've been on a Metroidvania kick for, I don't know, eight years, and it's set to continue with the lovely indie Rusted Moss now serving up the physics-based grappling hook search-action adventure that's been in the back of my mind for years.

Rusted Moss is a blend of twin-stick shooting and 2D platforming, and it's all grounded in a fun little grappling hook. It's set in a world which is barreling toward war between humanity and the fae, and changeling protagonist Fern is caught in the middle with her shadowy friend Puck, who also doubles as your grapple.

I've tested (and praised) some grappling hooks in my day, so I speak with some authority when I say Rusted Moss has a good one. It's more toward the bungee jump side of physics than the arcing Spider-Man swing, but it fits the size and shape of the game's world.

I gave its free Steam demo a quick play, and I'm pleased to report that the grapple is quickly introduced and feels good to use. It feels like the kind of mechanic that would suit a Castlevania game built around the iconic whip, which I guess is high praise for a Metroidvania. I'd jump into a pit, launch a grapple upward on my way down, stop my descent just before touching the spikes at the bottom, then rocket upward as the tension in the line caught up to me.

The physics are a little exaggerated, but in a fun and springy way that gives you some extra room for error. It's immediately satisfying and understandable in a kinetic way, and I can already tell how high the skill ceiling can be for this kind of movement, especially with rocket jumping also in the mix. There's a lot of room for creativity in how you reach areas, and this seems like a more organic way to gate off certain sections of the map compared to finding the correctly colored McGuffin like in some Metroidvanias.

The game surrounding this grappling hook looks pretty good, too. I dig the pixel art, the music in the demo is lovely, and the gun I've fired so far – one of eight unlockable weapons, it seems – has some real punch. I get the impression that this won't be a super long game – which is far from a complaint – but multiple endings and perfecting the map should put a little extra meat on its bones. Rusted Moss is one of those games that feels like it was made just for me, right down to the melancholic machines-consumed-by-nature aesthetic I love so much, and you've nothing to lose by giving its demo a shot yourself ahead of its 2023 release.

Rusted Moss first caught my eye in the latest Steam Next Fest, which also alerted me to the Hollow Knight-esque, achingly gorgeous Afterimage