An engaging lunar adventure.
Deliver Us The Moon. A trifling request. One that will fuel a desire for exploration and please fans of pressing big glowing buttons everywhere.
Successfully setting up the player in a rich and believable world, Deliver Us The Moon paces itself expertly, expecting you to pick up your damn helmet with no complaints and figure out what the hell is going on. And they’re right, you didn’t come here to mess about – you expect dignity and respect if you’re going to literally save humanity.
From the offset, the game is a lot of unbridled fun. You may not always know what to do or where you’re going, but the puzzles keep you thinking, allow for varying levels of ability, and employ a wistful orchestra to complement your every move. There is a real emphasis on tactile play, maneuvering and interacting with anything that may drive you forward in your quest.
It’s a lonely game, your only interaction being with a pliant ASE robot that lets you control it from time to time. For anyone who turns off at the thought of being alone with their thoughts for too long, this game may not be for you, but for anyone else it induces a dream-like state full of puzzle-solving solitude. The floating movement system takes seconds to learn and lends itself to hours of clever rotational and directional puzzles.
Although short, the game is special. It encourages you to care about people whose faces you will never see. It empowers the bond between man and machine. It steers away from making space the villain and hinging on oxygen shortage as the only peril. It’s rich and inventive. It is all these things and yet, regrettably, inexcusably flawed.
Deliver Us The Moon clearly takes pride in its ability to generate both grand sweeping space landscapes and more intimate (sometimes claustrophobic) environments, but this is marred by clunky settings and disjointed attempts at narration. The negative aspects of its design make the game feel almost smug, as if it knew how good it was and that these minor frustrations shouldn’t be an issue. But the more they mount up, the more difficult they are to ignore.
A pet peeve of mine is graphics settings treating the user like a child for the sake of self-referential edginess when the game itself has a dedicated focus toward graphical capabilities. Sliding your scale up to ‘epic’ feels redundant when you’re effectively swapping motion blur for tempered lighting. It’s irritating to see a game so capable of being gorgeous ignoring the finer details. Low-res textures are ever-present and there is limited controller support for some very specific elements of the game.
The narration itself would benefit from less telling and more showing, as some elements leave little to the imagination. When playing a cold, quiet sci-fi epic there is real joy and suspense in the gentle unfurling of details – a narrative trick that Deliver Us The Moon almost gets right. All too often, you will stumble across a small detail, your mind beginning to piece together the puzzle, only for an audio recording to really drill home the point with unnecessary aggression.
That being said, the story is engrossing and brimming with empathy for the human condition. A humble sense of achievement at solving a puzzle becomes a desire to make things better, to solve that which has been broken by those who went before you. In many ways, it’s a game that wants you to succeed, nudging you toward completion and collecting all your notes in an arm-mounted dossier.
The sound design and voice acting are earnest and thoughtful, and the moon is a veritable playground with buggies and space suits at your disposal. It typically backs away from sensationalism and instead maintains a steady flow between fast-paced action, sympathetic character development, and gentle exploration.
Deliver Us The Moon tries very hard to do too many things brilliantly, and honestly manages to do most of these more than adequately. The stark contrast between its graphical achievements and pitfalls are sometimes jarring and the narration can be aggressive, but the heart and soul of the game are what make it stand out.
There is pain and fear in the stories you hear, there is hope and yet a sense of overwhelming loss. There is jumping across the moon and zipping through space, but also a sombre reflection on our capabilities and inevitable corruption. Although it would have benefited from streamlining its approach and deciding on its priorities at times, Deliver Us The Moon is a game worth playing, worth keeping an eye on in the wake of any new updates, and is an experience to be savored.
[Reviewed on PC]