Deliver Us The Moon is not an epic game. It isn’t flashy, or grand, or genre-defining. It is, however, a neat, well-crafted game that I think will leave most players at least satisfied with their purchase and the time invested in playing. That being said, it is not without its shortcomings. But before I dive into its missed opportunities, let me talk about what Deliver Us The Moon gets right.
Graphics: Ok, let’s get this out of the way first: The game looks pretty. Very pretty. The fears I had of not seeing enough epic space vistas disappeared quickly. Not because there are lots of epic space vistas, but instead because the design of the levels and rooms is so beautiful. Keoken Interactive strikes a nice balance here, and it serves the gameplay well. Levels are detailed without being cluttered, and clean without feeling empty. The lighting is gorgeous, and does a good job of conveying the state of each room or space you enter. Lighting also plays an important role in helping you navigate the puzzles that you solve to progress through the game’s story.
Gameplay: Deliver Us The Moon mixes some decently satisfying puzzle problems with a bit of basic 3D platforming in the latter part of the game. Much of the gameplay is centered around exploring abandoned moon bases and discovering missing pieces of the narrative along the way. Scraps of paper, magazine covers, posters, recorded messages…etc. These bits and pieces fill almost every room in the game, which helps to keep things interesting in between solving puzzles and advancing through the story.
Plot: I’m generally not a huge fan of slower-paced adventure/puzzle games. But Deliver Us The Moon actually managed to hold my interest, due almost entirely to its story. The game does a good job of getting the initial “mission” in your head (fixing a power relay to help save the Earth), and then slowly unraveling a compelling and mysterious story along the way. The desire to uncover those mysteries is really what drove me through to the end.
Long story short, if you are looking for a relatively compact, polished game that delivers a nice story via solid gameplay, then I can definitely recommend Deliver Us The Moon. But I would be doing potential buyers a disservice if I didn’t talk a bit about what Keoken Interactive doesn’t get quite right.
Most of the issues I see with this game boil down to a notorious problem with video games: writing and acting. That might sound silly for a pretty short game based mostly on puzzles, except that it is very clear that the game is meant to be emotional, and as a result it packs in a substantial amount of voice acting. The audio and video recordings you come across really do carry the game, and some of these moments are genuinely intriguing and had me wanting to hear more. However, I found myself feeling less attached to the characters of the story, and more attached to the mystery of the plot. As emotional as the voice acting tries to be, the writing in Deliver Us The Moon leaves something to be desired. Much of it comes across as forced, and the voice lines during the first act, when you’re still on Earth, are so full of exposition it hurts.
Speaking of the first act… It seems clear that we as the player are meant to feel, even throughout the evolution of the plot, that saving Earth is of utmost importance. And yet, as we launch into space to travel to the moon, we’re barely given a glimpse of the planet we’re supposed to be saving. What should be the emotional foundation of the entire story feels distant and almost apathetic. Instead of having a cloudy, dust-obscured window to look out of, I should be looking at whatever Earth has left that is worth saving. Show me trees, mountains, lakes… and then hit me with a cloud of dust as a reminder that all the beauty I just watched out the window is doomed to die unless I do my part. Showing me an Earth that’s already dead doesn’t make me want to save it. It makes me want to leave.
Most of these criticisms are to say that, while I think Deliver Us The Moon shows promise, it could be so much more. It feels just a few steps away from being a truly beautiful story wrapped in a space-game package. Keoken Interactive certainly has talent, and I hope they learn from the shortcomings in this game to deliver something even more powerful next time around. This time, it isn’t a giant leap for gamerkind.