Deliver us the Moon takes place in the not-too-distant future in which mankind have all but destroyed planet Earth by depleting all of its natural resources (I’m not saying a word…..). In order to solve the energy crisis, a group of global powers have come together to create the World Space Agency and have managed to find a way to harvest energy from the moon and send it over to Earth. The World Space Agency created a colony on the moon to operate and maintain the equipment needed and all was well until one night, the flow of energy stopped and all communication between the moon and Earth ceased. Enter the player taking the role of Earth’s last astronaut in a final attempt to reach the moon and investigate what happened on that fateful night. I feel it important to clarify that Deliver us the Moon is part walking sim, part puzzle game and the focus is on fixing things and gathering information so those looking for aliens or horror will not find it.
The game opens with the player suiting up and making their way to the launch pad, before embarking on a one way trip to the moon to investigate the colony and piece together what happened. The rest of the story is up to the player to find, through exploration of the space station and the moon base and finding either literature in the form of letters, emails and voice recordings or by watching holographic scenes littered through the environment. As the story unfolds, you get glimpses of the final hours before communication cut and learn more and more about the team on the moon and what happened to them. This story telling mechanism works well in my opinion as you learn more and more about key characters by being drip fed information over a longer period of time, which gives more of a connection with the characters rather than having a whole heap of names dropped on you at once. I must admit however, I found the end of the game to be a touch anti-climactic, but the way in which it was delivered kept me playing just a little bit longer each time to find out more of what happened, which points to good story-telling.
Deliver us the Moon is a bit of a genre mash-up as it has first person sections akin to a walking sim but the majority is in third person and involves puzzle solving in various iterations. This mix of styles works well as they are used in sections suited to that style, for example almost all anti-gravity sections are in first person allowing the player to move and turn in any direction, and most puzzle sections are in third person allowing for easier manipulation of the environment. Part way through the game, the player also gets a companion in the form of ASE, a small floating robot companion who can be used to explore areas that the astronaut cannot reach. Control is swapped between the astronaut and the robot by pressing Y and the robot is controlled in first person, giving a different perspective of the same environment. All in all, the mash up of styles is beautifully implemented and the transitions are both smooth and have a purpose, so no sections feel tacked on. The controls however can be a little finnicky and feel clunky at times, especially in first person as occasionally you have to be so specific in where you are looking that you are unable to select the desired object. This seems like a minor gripe but when you’re desperately trying to grab an air pack with 5 seconds of oxygen left and instead you just keep opening and shutting a nearby locker resulting in death, it gets a little frustrating!
As for the gameplay itself, much of the game is working through battered space buildings, both putting the story together but also trying to fix things along the way. This involves a wide array of puzzles that need solving in interesting ways. These puzzles may be deciphering a code to open a door, traversing difficult terrain, both in and out of gravity or moving around objects in the environment to cross difficult rooms. There are also some areas that involve timing and stealth and timed sections in which oxygen is limited and surviving is part of the challenge! Deliver us the Moon isn’t one for hand holding and once the controls are given, there isn’t much more in the way of help. This leads to some puzzles being straightforward and some being quite tricky depending on how much of the area you have explored or taken note of. I found all of the puzzles to be satisfying to complete and the way in which the game separates the areas, you always know that the solution is close by, it’s just a case of keeping an eye out for something you missed the first time.
Deliver us the Moon is a beautiful game with an attention to detail that really shows the game is a labour of love. From the dusty red terrain of Earth to the stark landscape of Earth, the environments look gorgeous. In the broken and beaten moon base and space station every room is filled with detail, from small personal items of the crew to vast rooms of equipment, everything feels meticulously placed to create a realistic environment. The same can be said for the first person sections, in which the detail continues, especially the initial rocket launch which sees you in a cockpit, playing with the controls in through the eyes of the astronaut. The game really shines with the lighting, which on the Xbox One X in 4K was breath taking. The sections that really stand out are driving the lunar vehicle out on the moon’s surface. The only light is from the sun or the spotlights of the base, creating a high contrast with the pitch darkness of space created for some truly stunning images that have stuck in my mind since completing the game.
The soundtrack works equally well with the game using music for urgency and atmosphere and the sound effects seem realistic for the various machinery. The game also uses silence just as well to emphasise the emptiness of space, which I felt was used to good effect.
Overall, Deliver us the Moon is an intriguing game with an interesting story and slick gameplay. Both the first and third person sections work well together and the puzzles are both varied and challenging but not so much so they cause frustration. Other than a few minor control issues which are forgivable, Deliver us the Moon is a must play for those who like puzzlers or a sci-fi theme.
Deliver us the Moon is available now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One (and is included with game pass) and will be coming to Switch later this year.