The Sun and Moon – An Indie Game Review

The Sun and Moon – An Indie Game Review
3.5

Platforms:

Windows PC, Mac, Steam

Game Name:

The Sun and Moon

Publisher(s):

Digerati Distribution, Kot in Action Creative Artel

Developer(s):

Daniel Linssen

Genre(s):

puzzle, platformer

Release Date:

November 14, 2014

The Sun and Moon – What We Think:

The Sun and Moon is a 2D platformer with a straightforward gimmick. You can phase through the platforms at will, and gravity reverses whenever you do. You’ll still die if you fall off the edge of the world. But you’ll fall upward if you slide into the background, and you’ll regularly need to do so in order to navigate the various obstacles.

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The finished result plays like a design experiment, though at least it’s a good one. The Sun and Moon goes to all of the places you’d expect, maximizing the potential inherent in the mechanic. The constant inversion of physics creates unexpected patterns of movement and forces you to interact with the world in a unique and compelling way.

The problem is that there isn’t much else to hold your attention. The game offers plenty of challenge and dozens of precise, well-crafted stages, but they all start to blend together as the game becomes more difficult. If progressing to the next level no longer provides any thrill, there’s not much reason to keep playing.

Brighter Horizons

Should you decide to continue – and it’s worth noting that the game is fun – the setup is stripped to the essentials. Each stage is a free-floating collection of platforms. You have to collect three orbs and then reach the exit. The stages can be completed in a matter of seconds, though the first success usually takes a bit longer and you’ll typically die a few times before you get it right.

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The joy comes from the subtle mastery of the system. The game’s exceptional use of momentum is particularly noteworthy, allowing you to build speed as you circle from one plane into the other and back. Movement has a certain balletic grace, and better scores demand extensive use of fluid arcs and repetition. The slightest twitch can mark the difference between a perfect score and sudden death, though most levels can be completed even if you’re less than perfect.

Stubbing Your Toe In The Dark

However, the game does get extremely difficult at around the halfway point. It’s not unfair or cruel – again, the design is quite logical – but the potential rewards just don’t seem worth the effort. The Sun and Moon is devoid of any story, or even any aesthetic qualities that last longer than a first impression. The levels have an elegant black and white duality that complements the game’s core mechanic, but it’s more efficient than artistic. The backgrounds and music are similarly pleasant, but they exist more to offset the gameplay than they do to draw your gaze.

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The lack of anything memorable ultimately sets the tenor of the experience. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with The Sun and Moon. It’s an exceedingly competent platformer with strong design sensibilities.

Sundown, Ya Better Take Care

Unfortunately, there’s nothing terribly exciting about it, either; it’s a collection of levels that don’t add up to anything in particular, each devoid of context or connection to something more substantial. It’s worth a look as an exercise in level design, but don’t be surprised if you move on once you’ve grasped the fundamentals.

Check out the Official Site – Daniel Linssen

Get The Sun and Moon on Steam

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Watch the trailer for The Sun and Moon:

Eric Weiss

Eric is a Toronto based video game critic and theatre practitioner. He is currently a regular contributor at Dork Shelf, while past creative writing credits include the stage plays The Handy Man Can (2008 Montreal Fringe Festival) and Shredder (2009 McGill Drama Festival) and the video game Apocalypse Later (TOJam 2012). Follow him on Twitter @Harry_Houdini.

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