Luna: The Shadow Dust is the type of point and click puzzle game that can be difficult to talk about, not because it’s bad or has controversial materials, but because the magic of the game is going in with little knowledge about the characters and story.
To keep the game a mystery this review is going to be short and hopefully convey what players are jumping into. Is Luna a good game? Yes. Is it short? Yes. Is it worth adding to your ever-growing collection of games? That depends on if you want a game that tells a story or a game that has something to say.
If you’re here for the latter, I’m afraid Luna isn’t going to cut it. But if you enjoy a game simply being a fun game, you’re in for a sweet treat.
Luna: The Shadow Dust takes place on a mysterious floating land that has an erected tower that can help lead to the truth for a young boy, who has no known name, who has woken up with no memory of how he got there.
Along the way he meets a strange cat-like creature that doesn’t cast a shadow, together the boy and his new companion will climb the strange tower and discover a darkness that threatens the world, and they may even learn something about each other.
That’s basically all this review should say about the story, because the story is front and center alongside a hand drawn graphic style that helps the game stand out.
What’s more, the game is completely vocal free, there is no dialogue spoken by the characters nor are there any vocal tracks in the music. Luna is so confident in telling its story that it doesn’t give the characters exposition dumps and relies completely on the characters emoting and interacting with the world around them.
The animation is so well done in-game that you can mistake it for an animated concept video, each level looks like a pitch for a new animated show that you would want to watch on Netflix. The characters are expressive, and each level feels different from the last, no two levels feel like a remixed version of an older section.
Luna: The Shadow Dust knows what it wants to do and does not implement annoying backtracking in an attempt to pad out time, it wants to show players the story and keep them moving forward, this help gives Luna a great sense of pacing and satisfaction.
Gameplay is rather simple, every room in the tower has its own puzzle that players will need to figure out, there are no time limits or monsters trying to harm the two protagonists. Instead players are encouraged to take it slow and explore the room for clues, this could be in the form of a note in the background or an NPC that interacts with certain items.
One of the greatest things about Luna, other than the animation and music, is that the puzzles are well thought out and makes sense (for the most part). Only a couple of puzzles felt arbitrary with how things were laid out, they didn’t fit with the other logical puzzles, but those were very far and few.
One moment players changing lights to open secret doors and the next players are using time travel to change seasons, no matter the puzzles they all follow themes based on the room, including a boiler that requires the use of steam.
Of course, not everything is perfect with Luna. While the animation is nice, it’s very limited, there are no running animations, so the two characters are always moving at a snail’s pace (luckily many of the levels are small).
Cutscenes in the game lack the same fluid animations as the actual game and feel like animated storyboards or unfinished scenes, it’s a bit of a whiplash when the game switches to a cutscene and small animation mistakes like missing frames sour a fun moment.
The big thing for many will be the amount of time it will take to finish Luna: The Shadow Dust, which isn’t long, the game will take between two in half to three hours to finish. And even then, that depends on how long certain puzzles (the two illogical ones mentioned earlier) will take to figure out.
Luna: The Shadow Dust is a fun beautiful game that is short on levels but doesn’t overstay its welcome, it doesn’t waste the players time and it has a heartfelt story with great characters that works without them having to say a single word.
This review is based on a review key provided by the game’s developers
LUNA: THE SHADOW DUST
Luna: The Shadow Dust is well animated and fun point and click puzzler that feels short but doesn't wear out its welcome
- The hand drawn animations is wonderful
- The puzzles have actual logical conclusions
- The game doesn't pad things out
- The music is great
- Too bad the cutscenes didn't get the same amount of animated attention
- Really short, this length is a double edged sword