I’ve said it before and I will say it again, give me ten hours of well-formed story over 100+ of sprawling, unfocussed exploration. I think there seems to be a tendency within modern gaming to feel like you have to be providing an appropriate amount of gameplay to make the price worth it but frankly, have we lost sight of the value of quality over quantity?
Deliver Us The Moon is the latest release of Dutch developer, KeokeN Interactive. Originally released last year for the PC, it has finally come to PlayStation and Xbox. Like an adaptation of Interstellar by way of Dear Esther, it concerns an astronaut named Rolf who aims to reignite a moon-based power station providing energy to the entire dying Earth while also exploring the wreckage of what happened to the team that was there before.
The team have not missed a single step in transfer to home consoles and if anything, have enhanced the experience as this feels like a control system perfectly suited to the controller. Taking Rolf through a variety of environments and vehicles, the consideration of the effects of gravity or the lack thereof as you can take small steps and giant leaps with ease. The graphics are smooth and well-formed, keeping what amounts to a variety of shades of off-white and avoiding any feeling of repetition.
The true joy of this game is the exploration, finding hidden secrets within the nooks and crannies of a variety of lunar bases. It helps that the ship logs, found in a collection of recorded wireframe recreations, audio files and email exchanges, are filled with character details, building a full picture of a crew on the precipice of something important. Just as impressive is the range of emotion they eke out of your cycloptic assistant droid. Resembling some combination of KVN from Final Space and a Portal Turret but without the vocabulary of either, purely through eye and lid movements, the little droid feels as alive as classics of the genre like R2-D2 and WALL-E.
While he’s hardly the most necessary character to add shading to as the audience surrogate, there is a lack of shading to Rolf, remaining mostly silent throughout the adventure. Whether this is a deliberate choice to allow the player to imagine themselves in his position or an oversight is unclear. While they aren’t unmanageable, the freezing of the action upon reaching auto-save points are mildly frustrating.
This is more personal taste than anything but while I like the gently taxing puzzle sections and occasional Gravity-inspired free-fall sections, I can’t help but feel the late-in-the-game addition of robots that will attempt to electrocute you to death feel like a forced attempt to inject extra tension into the game, something that it frankly doesn’t need.
But these few issues do not get in the way of an amazingly satisfying overall experience. I’m not much of a completist but the virtues of Deliver Us The Moon’s collectables are they all help tell the story, not in a way where you won’t understand it without them but filling out the details around the edges. With a well-paced storyline, a good variety of gameplay objectives, some fine-voice acting and clean visuals, for its 6-8 hours of time, you won’t find a much slicker package. All in all, a more complete experience than most and a frankly quite perfect transfer to consoles. I can’t more highly recommend taking this particular trip to the moon.