Listen… we need to talk about generosity.
I’m all for giving things a chance; for taking time, absorbing, letting things percolate and filter through my consciousness. I don’t come to any rash decisions or conclusions over stuff. Well, whether to grab another slice of cake doesn’t count, does it?
But with games… honestly, I give them my full attention. And I care about them, because I love them. All this is preamble to prep for what I want to say, which is: Deliver Us the Moon is a mediocre game.
I genuinely feel bad about saying this. Why? Well, because there’s an authentic amount of love, care and attention that’s been poured into this space-set puzzler. Otherwise, just about everything in this game’s construction is a cliche. It’s been everywhere before… through space, time and space-time.
Thing is… there’s nothing actually wrong with the game.
Solidity is a virtue when it comes to world-building, but you need a bit of nuance, a splash of artistry, some individuality. The fact Deliver Us the Moon is so uninspired is what’s ultimately dispiriting.
You play as an astronaut visiting a space station on Luna. Your mission is to repair a microwave energy transmission device, capable of transmitting a newly-discovered energy source to Earth. Terra itself is in a cataclysmic state. The last vestiges of life on our ravaged blue marble depend on you doing your Space Mechanic thang, and getting the old girl up and running again.
From the start, you’re boldly going where everyone has gone before. It’s exploratory; there are environmental puzzles to complete. You’ll find yourself looking for fuel cells and sticking them in slots. Opening Doors, entering codes, listening to audio logs, floating in low G… even talking about it makes me quite tired.
A swift scan of your gaming memories reminds you: Dead Space does all of this. But generates a shocking amount of fear. Similar tasks, similar puzzles, but far better. Alien Isolation also does a similar thing but with existential horror of being constantly pursued by a gigantic penis with claws.
Or there’s Red Matter, which has a similar set of puzzles, but in VR and sporting a far greater and more individual style and aesthetic. Or what about Lone Echo, which has all the same characteristics of this game, but in VR and with full 3D, zero-G motion?
The list really does just go on and on and on.
From a technical standpoint it’s using the ubiquitous Unreal Engine, but still struggles to maintain a consistent frame rate on the base PS4 that I played it on. Technical issues aside for the moment, for a game that’s about the loneliness of the universe and the peril that humanity is in… there’s very little going on, intellectually speaking. There’s a dissonance between the fact that you’re running out of oxygen in a nihilistic vision of humanity’s end-state and yet… very little of this potential is converted into meaningful action. It’s a game full of repetitive fetch quests, endless diaries of the disappeared, and button-pressing tasks.
As this has been put out by a small team, It feels really quite unfair to be so critical of KeokeN Interactive’s work. But once their art is out there, it’s out there. And you have to be honest.
So in the spirit of generosity, I’ll say this is a solid technical achievement, with some nice ideas that are smoothly implemented. But there are games in this genre – some from as far back as 2008, some from this very space-year 2020 – that tread the well-worn sci-fi thriller path in a far superior way. That nail the Gravity meets 2001: A Space Odyssey on Duncan Jones’s Moon vibe.
Let’s hope that, in their next release, KeokeN can bring something a little more authentically new; that speaks to the human experiences we face as we reach out into the void.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to punish myself for being mean to the little guy.
Code provided by Wired Productions for review purposes