Sometimes competitions can spur game developers into creating something unique. Such a thing happened with Daniel Linssen when he decided to enter Ludum Dare’s 29th game jam, with the theme ‘beneath the surface’. His entry was good enough to wow the judges and get him some publishing partners. Now it’s available on Steam and its well worth checking out if you’re into your puzzle platformers.
There’s no story or characters, though you do play a ball of light (I think) that you control with the arrow keys on your keyboard or WASD. I think the name of The Sun and Moon refers to the duality that is present on the screen – the platforms are free-floating dark coloured blocks within a light contrasting space. Clouds float serenely in the background; there is barely anything else on the screen to distract you.
Which is good because The Sun and Moon will require all of your concentration. It’s wise to never judge a game by its apparent simplicity and that is never truer than here. The difficulty ramps up quite quickly but I bet you won’t want to give up too soon – it’s very addictive.
The premise is simple. You can run and jump across the different shaped and increasingly complex platforms in each level to collect orbs, of which there are three scattered in various inconvenient places. Once you have collected all three, a wormhole activates, taking you to the level map. Here things get interesting; there isn’t a linear form of progression like in most platformers. Several levels will open up at once and you can choose where you want to go next. So if you get stuck on one level, instead of flinging your computer across the room in a fit of rage, just try a different one. It’s a great concept that more games like this could utilise.
There’s one other major mechanic which makes this game unique. Gravity plays a big part in most platformers, hence all the jumping. In this one you can actually use the shift key to dive beneath the surface of the platforms. This is great for trying to reach those orbs that are playing hard to get (who am I kidding, they’re all hard to get). The ground will feel like it’s trying to repel you and in fact it is; gravity is reversed here. This can be used to great effect, the momentum propelling you higher in the air and across wide gaps. If you have nimble fingers you can soon be traversing complicated platforms with the greatest of ease.
The quicker you can do each level the better. It works on a three tier grade system and if you’re a whore for getting three stars in every level of Angry Birds, you can lose hours here, trying to shave off a couple more seconds to get higher on the ranking board.
A chiptune soundtrack plays innocently in the background, changing beats when different coloured levels are entered. It’s largely forgettable, not really adding anything but it doesn’t detract either. You’ll be too focused on the game to notice anyway.
With 150 levels to explore, you’ll be kept busy. There’s not much else going on so if you do crave more substance to your gaming, perhaps you should look elsewhere. But honestly this is a little gem of puzzle platformer and if you like a challenge and want to experience something a bit different, I highly recommend it.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: PC Release Date: 14/11/2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of The Sun and Moon by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.