At a quick look, The Sun and Moon does not look particularly appealing. It’s not meant in a disparaging way but the developers certainly went for the minimalistic look. The question is: does it matter? Thankfully, it doesn’t.
Jumping off the introduction, the game not only looks but also starts, simple. The player controls a small black dot that needs to collect all the orbs and make it to the exit. This is all achieved with classic 2D platformer elements, including a new twist. The player can phase through blocks. Doing so allows the player to gain access to otherwise unreachable areas. The game allows the player to experiment with this mechanic in any way they want, there is no wrong or right way to use it, just collect all orbs and reach that exit. Maybe the player needs to jump from a great height so they can phase through the floor and launch themselves back up, phasing through any block they need to in an effort to complete the level. Or maybe the player needs to phase into the side of a block just so they can reach the top. It is completely down to the player to experiment and figure it out on their own. Do not expect a helping hand from the game. Like any 2D platformer there are various obstacles in the player’s way that they need to avoid in order to complete their objective. Nothing stands out as bad, but don’t expect anything particularly different to every other platformer.
There is a rating system for those interested. Each level is timed with the classic ‘3 star’ system. It’s a nice, if not overused, feature for the competitive players out there. However it does not seem to have any real benefit on the player. Unlocked levels can be played in any order, a particularly good idea considering the difficulty of some levels. I couldn’t imagine sticking with the game if one level prevented me from continuing the game. As an added bonus not every level needs to be completed for the rest to be unlocked.
The real hook of the game is its difficulty. The game gently eases you in but quickly rips that all away in favour of some truly difficult levels. If frustratingly hard levels that you can’t stop trying sounds fun, then this game is certainly aimed at you. Some may read this and instantly feel the game is unfair. That is certainly not the case, it takes time to master the mechanics, just because the solution is simple does not mean the execution will be. The more I discuss this game, the more it dawns on me that the best word to describe The Sun and Moon is deceiving. In a way, the audience cannot be blamed for thinking the game is meant for kids. It is simple looking, with easy to understand concepts and an innocent name. In my opinion, this is the furthest thing from the truth as possible. Or maybe I am just really bad at the game?
As touched upon earlier, minimalistic is key, and that is certainly true when it comes to the look of the levels. While the levels themselves are masterly designed, the look is boring. There is nothing wrong with going simple, and that can certainly work well. However the game is just not interesting to look at. The backgrounds only change every 10 levels, more effort could have gone onto making the game more visually appealing. A dynamically changing background or more variety could have really helped. Sure it does not affect gameplay, but that doesn’t mean it does not deserve to be mentioned.
In some ways The Sun and Moon has been one of the harder games to review. There just isn’t much to the game, yet the game can’t help but be good. It’s not meant in a derivative way, but the game focuses on its few mechanics and makes sure it nails them. Sure some people may be put off by its difficulty and the visuals are nothing special, but the game continuously draws you in. If you enjoy difficult games or platformers, then give The Sun and Moon a try.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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