Halloween is approaching, and several developers take this opportunity to release updates in tune with the annual Fear party. Someone goes further, however, and releases entire titles: this is the case of Moons of Madness, a sci-fi first-person horror. Developed by Rock Pocket Games, it is currently available on Steam for € 24.99 and will land on PS4 and Xbox One on January 21st. If you have just experienced a feeling of déjà vù, this is more than justified. It might seem like a clone of Deliver Us the Moon , but as we will see it will be a sworn enemy.
Set on Mars, Moons of Madness accompanies a common space technician in his daily routine. Due to unidentified disturbances, a series of malfunctions will begin to appear which will initially give the idea of the usual game seen and reviewed. The tutorial is in fact quite long-lived (it stands at game time), but patience will be well rewarded by the development team. Next to the usual non-functioning radios and antennas, soon you will have bigger problems and above all we will start to ask if we are not really the problem . The mind of the protagonist, probably tried by loneliness and family dramas, will often play tricks …
Precisely for this reason, although the setting is formally the Red Planet, during the gameplay this will vary more than satisfactorily. It ranges from narrow caves to mysterious cellars, from cold shuttles to the warm colors of the Martian soil. And even though the view is more pleasant in Deliver Us the Moon, there will be no dead time here to stop and appreciate it. Moons of Madness is able to lower a veil of tension on the player , whose plot thickens as you continue in the session. The result is that you immediately feel with something on your heels, and although some sections want to lighten the pace, you are never completely relaxed.
The merit is clearly also the excellent source of inspiration for the title: the great successes of HP Lovecraft. Here the tastes come into play, but I personally think that the noir stories on this style lend themselves very well to adaptations external to the paper. In the course of the game the references are not too implicit, but this however does not prevent those who do not take them from enjoying the experience equally. The same reason why, despite being explicitly set in the universe of Secret World Legends (Funcom), Moons of Madness is fully usable even by those who have not played it. And it seems a common opinion, since several Steam reviews speak only of “enriched experience” but not conveyed.
Moving on to the narrow gameplay, Moons of Madness presents the classic basic commands (without jumping) and a decidedly linear exploration. The absence of collectibles then weighs but not too much, since in the end they are present and only a section for their archive is missing. A semblance of originality is revealed only if we talk about Biometer , that is a kind of ultra-tech wristwatch . Thanks to it you will be able to solve most of the puzzles, but also carry out often necessary environmental scans.
Everything is extremely useful in the numerous puzzle-solving phases, almost never taken for granted and trivial . The puzzling component is perhaps the highest point of Moons of Madness, as it is optimally balanced. It is not so difficult to understand what to do, how much more to do it, and often one feels stuck but “so much” from the solution. And it’s great, because the player is so driven to not give up (and also gratified). A simple piece of advice gained from experience is to analyze the environment well before thinking about the solution. It is challenging to find all the elements you need, often even more than combining them correctly.
The soundtrack is less noteworthy, accompanying without excelling in involving the player. In fact, he manages to support well only the few jumpscare present, flattening the experience a little in the remaining moments. Very slight imperfections in the voices can then jump to an expert ear, but do not affect the enjoyment of the title. Finally, the Italian language is present in every aspect of Moons of Madness and borders on perfection in translations. A dialogue dubbing would have liked, but in any case the subtitles are generally accurate.
The longevity of Moons of Madness does not disappoint, settling on about 6 hours . They may seem few, but they are more than sufficient when you constantly feel hounded by something unknown. And if even on the loads, short and very rare, objections can be raised the same cannot be said for other reasons. Checkpoints could be better distributed for example, since sometimes in 5 minutes there are 3 but then in the two phases they are often absent. The main criticism, however, concerns the points of interest, or the objects with which one can interact, barely perceptible. It is a nuisance that is found not a few times in the course of the adventure, and removing it could significantly improve it.
In conclusion, I could cite Moons of Madness itself: “one is anomaly, but two is normal”. This means that in the Universe if a thing appears only once it is a mistake, but if at least two happens it is part of a plan. We are not referring to life forms this time, but to the implicit rivalry with Deliver Us the Moon. One cannot even imagine all the points in common between the two productions, which even involve an almost identical design for some elements. If the latter satisfies more in explorations on vehicles and in the sound sector, the former wins the challenge hands down. Already the possibility of walking on Mars sensitively satisfies the purchaser, not to mention the praises already praised.
The last verdict is that therefore Moons of Madness is a title more than recommended, able to entertain and gratify . And, above all, to disturb the soul in depth, to the point of wishing to come to terms with the mysteries proposed only to finally feel free. And to make matters worse, it is already on offer on Steam for € 19.99.