Let’s talk about Kickstarter. While it’s a platform that doesn’t give off the best impression thanks to some rogue projects that made us wince in pain when remembering them; it also provides some fantastic games whose vision was only made much better thanks to the backing of the gaming community.
However, projects can be delayed or suffer massive changes. In the case of Deliver Us the Moon, the decision was made to pull the game from Steam when the game’s developer, KeokeN Interactive, signed on with publisher Wired Productions.
The game’s original development cycle after a successful crowdfunding effort in 2016 was also quite messy. For those unaware, the game was originally touted as an episodic game back when it released in 2018. Afterward, it was pulled from sale and then returned with better graphics, bug fixes, optimized controls, and an ending to the story.
So, will this Moon expedition actually work compared to the original release? Does this game have a message that falls upon deaf ears? Let’s find out the answers to this and other questions with this review.
Part 1: Story
Everyone knows that the fate of the Earth and humanity aren’t looking too bright at this moment. It would be a matter of time before the resources that we take for granted would fully deplete and leave us starving for something else. I talk about this because Deliver Us the Moon works off that premise.
Earth’s resources were depleted and became dependent on Helium-3 found on the Moon. Helium-3 is “sent” to Earth through a giant energy beam being fired at it from the moon. This allowed the planet to have a brand new source of energy. However, at some point, the Lunar Colony suddenly stopped its operation.
With no clue as to what occurred, the Earth suddenly finds itself in a perilous position. Nobody knows what happened at the Moon and the Earth doesn’t have the resources to send someone out there to find the answer.
What to do?
The game starts us off as an astronaut in a secret mission to find out what happened to the Lunar Colony and try to bring the power supply back to Earth. You start by having to quickly launch the rocket by yourself before a dust storm destroys the years of effort your teammates have done.
After that, it’s up to you to find out what has happened at the colony and turn the lights back on so humanity can think of a future. Along the way, you’ll be met with the holographic recordings that show brief glimpses at the full line of events.
Without spoiling the story, this game is amazing with its plot, characters, and twists. It doesn’t spend much time saying “HUMAN BAD. EARTH DESTROYED”, but actually focuses on the events surrounding the shortage of energy that’s plaguing humanity.
This makes a lot of sense in the story, of course. Why would anyone say “Oh man, we’ve been so bad with this planet” instead of working towards finding a solution? The plot accepts that Earth’s resources were depleted and doesn’t scold the player or anyone else for it. Things just come to an end and that’s simply the grim reality of it.
Being a thriller, Deliver Us The Moon has actually managed to make me interested in its scenes. Some of the twists have caught me off guard while some scenes managed to touch with me on a personal level. I will admit that the story can get a bit predictable in some parts, though… So that can end up working against the game for that reason.
Part 2 – Gameplay
The majority of the game is played by interacting with objects and solving puzzles. You get to explore a number of interesting settings including a Space Station and the Moonbase itself. The puzzles you can find are your standard Adventure game fare: finding codes to locked doors, figuring out the correct sequence of controls to launch the rocket to the Station, item manipulation, the whole shebang.
However, there are also some original puzzles that involve an ASE (All-Seeing Eye) AI companion which allows you to think outside the box (quite literally) and open locked doors, disable security systems, and activate power grids. Yeah, it’s obvious when you need to use your ASE in some sections. However, you’ll easily find when you unlocked that door that you solved Part 1 of a multi-layered puzzle.
In this regard, I admire what this game does. It takes advantage of the setting (which is the future in Space) and uses it to bring some imaginative and ambitious puzzles that had me racking up my brain while solving them.
I also liked that the game implemented Zero-G environment puzzles. You’ll be able to explore some sections in the game while floating around and seeing objects floating around you. You even have access to a vehicle (a rover) which lets you drive around the surface of the Moon to your heart’s content (until you go out of bounds).
However, one thing I didn’t like as much was the Oxygen mechanic. See, if you’re outside of the rover or a sealed building/space station, your oxygen is going to run out quickly. Three minutes, and you’re DED. This mechanic can be seen as something that adds a sense of urgency with some puzzles. However, it also can make you feel annoyed when you got the solution and then you get an incurable case of the DED because a timer ran out, forcing you to start over again.
Not helping things is the (infrequent but annoying) Quick Time Events that come out of nowhere and can catch you off-guard. God knows how many times I dropped the controller to bask in the cutscene and enjoy the music and ambiance before being shoved a button prompt in my face and dying because of it.
However, I think that this game is still good in the gameplay department. The puzzles are ambitious and fun to work through and while I don’t fully agree with some mechanics, I think they’re a lot more fun to work with the rest of them (Especially in zero-G).
Part 3 – Presentation
Coupled with very good controls and a gameplay experience that kept me engaged, the game’s presentation is equally as amazing and ambitious. It’s really hard for me to believe that this was made by an indie development team as it pushes the limits of the Unreal Engine 4 to new boundaries.
As you maneuver through floating objects in Zero-G, they realistically react to you contacting and moving them around. Coupled with this is the amount of detail that’s in this game. Everywhere you look are signs of the missing colonists, such as a chessboard, hand-written notes, personal belongings, etc.
The sound design and music are up to par with the visuals in terms of how phenomenal they are. Every sound effect is mixed so perfectly that it makes you feel as if you’re in the game, about to go on an expedition to another planet. The background music contributes to immersion as well, suitably soothing or ominous as required, sometimes the game is just quiet and that will be all you need.
The game’s characters are equally good as well. While you never actually meet anyone else, the colonists are fleshed out through an exposition system in your Dossier and virtual recordings left behind. While this means you’ll spend a lot of time listening to recordings and staring at a screen, the acting is well done, and you can really relate to these people and what they experienced.
Overall, I think that the presentation is a major highlight in this game. The graphics look on par with any Western AAA release in the market, which helps deliver on the game’s narrative.
Conclusion – A Fantastic Sci-Fi
Deliver Us The Moon is a very ambitious yet engaging experience that has left me speechless on countless occasions. The game doesn’t shy away from going above and beyond in terms of its graphical aspect, presentation, and gameplay to provide an experience that anyone looking for a thriller could enjoy.
I don’t know how the hell did the developers pull off a Silent Protagonist story that actually made me have an emotional bond with him. However, they managed to do so and also deliver on a greater experience that I would gladly replay.
So, what are you waiting for? Put on that space suit and start seeking for answers. You may never know what truly lies beneath.
This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher