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Deliver Us The Moon Review: Outstanding Space Sim Delivers, but not in the Intended Way

SPOILERS: Minor spoilers for a few gameplay moments throughout this Deliver Us The Moon Review

Intro

Space is a popular theme in gaming. Recently we’ve seen brand new IPs like No Man’s Sky, The Outer Worlds and Journey to the Savage Planet. And while No Man’s Sky taps into our sense of wonder, or Journey to the Savage Planet, our comical and colourful nature, Deliver Us The Moon is an entirely different beast altogether. Originally released in 2018 for PC, this serious space thriller now finds its way onto home consoles for all to enjoy. At times, Deliver Us The Moon feels more like an Astronaut simulator than a Sci-fi thriller, but when laced with the best gameplay moments I’ve seen this year, is a game that is not to be missed.


Deliver Us The Moon Review

  • Developer: KeokeN Interactive
  • Publisher: KeokeN Interactive, Wired Productions
  • Available: PC/PS4/Xbox One (+Game Pass)
  • Played On: Xbox One

Blast-Off

Deliver Us The Moon begins by introducing you to it’s world. Scientists have colonised the Moon to harvest Helium-3, as Earth’s natural resources have run dry. Everything is great for 20 years or so, until one day the device used to send Helium to Earth mysteriously goes offline. (The Microwave Power Transmission). Earth loses contact with the lunar colonies and falls into disrepair for many years. In a last ditch attempt, a small group of former World Space Agency colonists devise a mission to save Earth. They’re about to send one lone Astronaut into space, to investigate the mysterious event and bring the MPT back online. And that’s where you come in. 

The game starts on Earth, at an old WSA launch pad in the midst of a raging sandstorm. Wandering through the now derelict site I witnessed abandoned offices, an old monument to mark the discovery of Helium-3 and notes left by colonists some 20 years ago. By battling through the storm, trying to bring the launch pad online, it perfectly highlights how dire the situation is. It becomes immediately apparent that Earth is dying. A nearby magazine even has your mission sprawled across its front cover, making it feel like you’re taking part in a monumental event in Earth’s history. Many games use the “You’re the last one who can save us” plot device, but Deliver Us The Moon is a stellar example of how to do it right. The stakes feel incredibly high here.

Once the launch pad is online Deliver Us The Moon showcases its greatest moment. It’s time to manually blast-off into space by flicking switches and pulling levers in the right order, all in first person, all in cockpit of an old rocket. A truly awe-inspiring sequence follows as you enter space and see a dirt-brown Earth out of the side window. It was also extremely poignant as your mission operator imagines how the Astronauts of the first Moon landing must have felt almost 100 years ago. This moment makes Deliver Us The Moon worth playing just to experience it for yourself.

More Space than Thriller

Deliver Us The Moon uses great suspense in the early hours. Most locations are pitch black, illuminated only by your flashlight. You activate the flashlight by clicking in the right thumb stick, like in State of Decay. And initially venturing into these abandoned interiors evoked similar feelings. In both games your imagination runs wild as you’re always unsure of what lies within. But while the ever looming threat of the undead makes State of Decays’ exploration anxiety inducing, the same can’t be said here. Any tension created in the early game disappears once the plot takes form as the cause of the MPT blackout is slightly underwhelming. The more grounded plot helps with the realistic Astronaut mechanics, but it completely diminishes any real threat. As a result, you never feel vulnerable across Deliver Us The Moon’s 10 hour campaign.

Once the plot hits it’s stride, the game switches from a thriller to an emotional indie game as we examine the relationship between key characters. And that’s not necessarily a negative. I love emotional indie games (Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a masterpiece). But it’s disappointing when I’m promised a Dead Space style thriller, and get a Gone Home or What Remains of Edith Finch experience instead. Thankfully, the intriging story and it’s many mysterious engages you throughout. And like any good narrative there are twists and turns along the way. I just wish there was more as a lot of questions go unanswered. For example, the game never explains how a character ends up on Earth after going missing on the Moon. (Did he fall back down?) Hopefully more answers are within the DLC.

Deliver Us The Moon Review: Exploring
Exploring locations is never quite as tense as the early hours and the game never quite reaches the heights of a great thriller.

Astronaut Simulator 2020

So, what do you actually do in Deliver Us The Moon? Well, as an Astronaut you bring the MPT back online by essentially completing space manual labour. You manually launch a rocket, manually dock to a space station and manually fix a droid by picking up and rotating each individual part. It all feels great with a liberating tactile element to everything you do. However, it does slow gameplay right down. (Most of the time you’re bringing things online by moving batteries around.) Other, rarer times the pace ramps up with a few blockbuster set pieces. For example, one time I frantically raced through space to get back inside before my oxygen ran out. These moments are rare, so don’t expect Deliver Us The Moon to be an action packed game.

In order to complete your tasks there are many puzzles to solve. Most puzzles are complex, with some taking longer than I’d like to admit to solve. As there are no waypoints or hints, you truly think about your objective, rather than just go through the motions. Yes, you have a location to head towards, but you have to manually navigate usings maps on certain interior walls. In exterior locations waypoints exist for each MPT tower. Venturing outside to realign these huge structures, highlights another area where Deliver Us The Moon excels. Roving across the Moon’s surface in a vehicle felt just right, especially when seeing the breathtaking lunar vistas before me. Alone and isolated on the Moon’s silent surface was a beautiful, introspective moment. Again, it is worth playing to experience this remarkable sequence for yourself. 

The tasks unfortunately become repetitive after a while as more often than not you’re bringing “something” online. An area of the station, the vehicle bay, or even a full scale Monorail which connects each Lunar Settlement. But to help, Deliver Us The Moon creates variety in each stunningly realised location. I also loved the range of environmental factors like gravity. Bouncing around the Moon in low gravity was incredible, but flying weightlessly around the space station sadly was not. Deliver Us The Moon uses similar mechanics to Prey (2017) for zero gravity flight, but unfortunately everything feels much more sluggish here. In fact, most movement is sluggish even with sensitivity on maximum settings. It doesn’t help that significant framerate drops were common during my playthrough, causing the game to chug even more.

Driving across the Moon’s surface was a beautiful moment you shold experience for yourself. The lunar landscape looks stunning too!

Fallout…In Space!

It is easy to get lost in Deliver Us The Moon’s world. Not only is the premise genuinely intriguing, but the world building is impeccable too. There are items within most rooms, like magazines, emails and audio logs which add significant depth to the Universe. Cleverly, you learn about upcoming locations prior to entering them, like the Tombaugh Facility. Something serious happened here, but you never know what until you finally get there. To provide breaks between reading/listening, holograms replay past events and act as cut-scenes. These moments rely on the voice acting to do all of the emotional work as all holograms are silhouettes. Unfortunately the overall quality of the voice acting isn’t great. It’s a shame as I never felt the emotion in the words each character said before me.

“There were many occasions where I was stunned to silence in the wake of a new, unsettling discovery”

As you’re always alone, it was poignant learning more about each location, like each was a mini-mystery to uncover. You’ll find haunting entries like a magazine describing a freak accident, or a pack of antidepressants next to a workstation. There were many occasions where I was stunned to silence in the wake of a new, unsettling discovery. It also reminded me of playing something like Fallout 4. In both games you’re learning about a world for the first time in the wake of a global catastrophe. I personally love this in Fallout and the same can be said about Deliver Us The Moon.

Deliver Us The Moon Review - Fallout...In Space!
There are loads of books, magazines, emails, notes and audio logs which add significant depth to the World

Deliver Us The Moon Review – Final Thoughts

Deliver Us The Moon has issues with pacing, slugging movement and technical issues on the Xbox One. But it is worth playing based on a handful of outstanding moments alone. Manually blasting off into space and travelling across the Moon’s silent surface will stay with me for a long time. And while I didn’t get the space thriller I was promised, I did experience a realistic world filled with poignant discoveries, and a narrative that I didn’t want to end. It’s safe to say Deliver Us The Moon does in fact deliver, but perhaps not in the intended way. And I’m sure you’ll agree, we’re all fine with that.


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