I’ve played a fair few puzzle games as of late, but none have followed Bruce Lee’s “Be water” philosophy as closely as The Sun and Moon. The embodiment of fluidity in gameplay. It’s simple at a glance but infuriating in the mid-to-late game, however I never felt it was unfair. It’s all about figuring out the particular mechanic for the level you’re on, and there’s a wealth of different approaches from level-to-level in contrast to its basic visuals. I absolutely think the game is worthy of your time, but it gets pretty tough later on. If any of that sounds up your alley, read on for our full The Sun and Moon Review.
Look and Feel
The Sun and Moon features a basic pixel layout with a moving, colourful background corresponding to the group of levels you’re currently in. A change in the background colour is a change in level area. The backgrounds are bursting with a simple charm. There’s something soothing about it. The game benefits from being so simple too as it runs like a dream. I’m sure somebody in-tune with artistry could describe the setting better, but alas, I am a simple man of humble beginnings.
The problem with the contrast between the black platforms and the colourful backgrounds is, against the more intense lava-like backgrounds, your playable moving dot tends to blend in to the background a little too much. This caused me some tracking problems visually when your dot is flying around at high speeds. It’s easy to lose sight of yourself and this can lead to some frustrating deaths.
All in all, a simple elegance in both art style and soundtrack, but with colour choices that occasionally get in the way of the actual game.
Much like the visuals, the basic gameplay mechanic is simple: as a small, playable dot, gather the pellets around the level and exit via the portal. You must collect all of the pellets before you can exit the level and progress. The twist in this game is that your dot can phase shift through the platforms before being thrown out of it. Your path is often blocked by minesweeper-like spike-balls or flame-shaped projectiles. Whatever the obstacle, the objective is always as has been described.
This game definitely keeps you on your toes. Whilst the main objective remains the same throughout, the way you accomplish it can be very different. Some levels are basic Mario-like platforming sessions, some what akin to the battleship levels of Super Mario Bros. 3 but in a lo-fi setting, and others have you phase shifting in a rotation allowing you to reach greater heights by dipping in on a low platform and shooting out of a taller one. The game constantly demands that you change your perspective so you never feel too comfortable. I was incredibly impressed by the sheer variety in the puzzle-solving when it could have easily just been your run-of-the-mill platform puzzler.
That said, there’s a point where the game becomes supremely difficult. Up in the level 80’s in my experience. I stopped feeling a sense of accomplishment and crossed over in to pure rage. The one saving grace of this game in terms of death is that you’re almost instantaneously thrown back in the action, so punishment for failure is on the low end, but that won’t make your journey any easier.
As if the obstacles weren’t difficult enough, the game features boss levels, in a sense, wherein an evil energy ball will pursue you as you go about your normal business picking up the pellets and exiting through the portal. The boss levels become more difficult as the game progresses, with the evil enemy energy balls (because that’s fun to say!) learning some new tricks, but they’re also the levels in which I found the most rewarding experience to come from.
So there you have it: a simple review for a simple game. There’s not much to say about it beyond the gameplay section here, but I do wholeheartedly recommend The Sun and Moon if you can place yourself in an almost zen-like state towards the latter end of the game. Even if not, the stages are small enough and the load times quick enough to warrant a bit of experimentation with it here and there. If you’ve wanted a puzzler to sink your teeth in to since polishing off, say, The Witness, then The Sun and Moon might just be for you.
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Game: The Sun and Moon
Review Format: Playstation 4