Racing into a dust storm to launch a rocket while a stopwatch ticks loudly has a distinctly interstellar vibe. I am a lone astronaut, tasked with venturing to the Moon to discover why a crucial power transmitter and an entire colony have gone dark. The fate of the world is in my hands and only in my hands. Like I said, interstellar vibrations. Deliver Us The Moon’s current-gen update is here, ahead of the sequel’s September 27 release date. Does it hit the target, fall among the stars, or break in orbit?
The main attraction of any puzzle game is, please, drum roll, its puzzles. During the first half of the game, Deliver Us The Moon contains a variety of engaging obstacles that introduce new mechanics in ways that don’t feel like tutorials, a difficult feat for any game to accomplish. From simple tasks like finding the code to a locked door, to more complex tasks like reading the blueprints for rocket controls to launch them safely into space, they seamlessly walk the difficult line between satisfaction and frustration. Right before I let out a sigh because I didn’t know how to proceed, something clicked, making completing the puzzles even more rewarding.
Puzzles help a lot thanks to Deliver Us The Moon’s stylized graphics and frequent perspective changes. The buttons are big and brightly colored against the metallic interiors, and the switch between first and third person helped mix things up and keep me interested.
Every puzzle on Earth and in space introduces something new, whether it’s a mechanic, a tool, or just the puzzle itself. Unfortunately, after one or two missions on the lunar surface, things start to feel repetitive. I had to line up multiple towers over the course of two separate missions, and while there is a quality of life feature that skips the descent, it doesn’t stop the task from feeling more like a chore. It makes narrative sense, but it quickly stops being fun.
The story itself tells a solid science fiction story, a warning parable about the unsustainability of our mass consumption right now. That’s right, it’s political. Earth has been devastated by humanity’s greed, but there is a temporary solution to our energy crisis on the Moon in the form of a rare isotope of helium. A reactor and a colony to work there are quickly assembled, and everything seems to be running smoothly until one day, power is cut off to the planet and the colonists fall silent.
Most of the plot is developed by reading emails and notes, and listening to audio recordings. It’s a bit of a cliche method of storytelling at this point, but it gets the job done and works to reveal the more sinister events afoot. Where Delivery Us The Moon offers something new is in the use of recorded holograms that replace cutscenes. They’re a good in-game replacement for flashbacks, and add to the game’s sci-fi aesthetic brilliantly.
The central story about saving humanity from a crisis of its own making is well peppered with more personal plots. Her mission commander is Claire Johansson, the star of the sequel, Deliver Us Mars, and a woman whose father and sister are among the colony members I’m trying to get in touch with. Good science fiction is based on human issues, and Deliver Us The Moon knows it.
The levels are interspersed with little details about the people who live on the space station or also work on the colony. A small guitar, a telescope pointed at a dust-covered Earth, and a tea party made of stuffed animals and helmets paint a picture of the lives and concerns of the missing inhabitants.
Updated visuals and optimization for current-gen consoles mean my cute robot sidekick does wonders to provide the facial expressions my helmeted protagonist can’t, and my avatar’s body language is used to great effect. Everything looks sharp, but this update doesn’t go far enough. Some animations are still clunky and platforming feels clunky at times.
The update also misses the opportunity to add some more excitement and narrative weight to the latest mission. There’s a point quite late in the story where it would make a lot of sense for the player character to start talking, and as Disco Elysium – The Final Cut shows us, these updates can be used to improve more than just visuals and performance. However, this current-gen update misses the mark by not adding voice lines or fixing some unwanted animations and controls.
Fortunately, a mysterious, often intense score is woven throughout the game and helps elevate its story, heightening the emotional stakes and tension. There are a couple of action scenes that got my heart racing and had me on the edge of my seat. One saw me being sucked into space and having to navigate a debris field in search of oxygen canisters to keep from suffocating. The beeping of my O2 tank and the lack of clear direction through the debris make for an exciting sequence.
Deliver Us The Moon is a wonderful puzzle game on Earth and in space, but the Moon itself doesn’t live up to its wonderful promise. While there are still interesting puzzles, a sense of repetition creeps in and gets in the way of an enjoyable story. It’s not that it doesn’t hit its target, it just turns out that the target isn’t as good as it seems.
The publisher provided a review code for the purposes of this review.
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