30 November 2023

Indie Corner Games

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Lunark, a Sci-Fi journey through Albaryne

Lunark is undoubtedly a milestone in cinematic platformers. The brilliant animation translated into low-resolution pixels adds a very demarcated detail of charm.

The Cosmos imaginary has always been present in the most diverse areas of entertainment. Since movies, books and video games the premises behind a Sci-fi story have never had an end in sight. Lunark is a love letter to a genre that has remained active since the early days of video games, the cinematic platformer genre. Who doesn’t remember spending a good few hours jumping from platform to platform in Prince of Persia, the title released in 1989? Or the cutscene super ahead of time from Flashback? Lunark is inspired by the super methodical jumps of those same titles, but it prints its own identity, although it does not revolutionize the sci-fi genre, it is an adventure that keeps the player attentive to what is happening on the screen.

This adventure is set in the world of Albaryne, where the player will play the role of Leo, a boy with very different physical characteristics and who has a rare condition that causes him to age prematurely. Centuries ago the Moon was transformed into a gigantic spaceship by an Artificial Intelligence called Noah, with the intention of saving the human race from its extinction, since the Earth was going through very complicated periods. The idea was to transport millions of human embryos to the nearest habitable planet, in an initiative called Lunark.

The player will begin their time in this title in a moment where Leo is caught by surprise in the midst of a rebellion against the Lunark regime. Leo is seen as a rebel after an event that led to the explosion of his ship near Gedeon’s Headquarters. With no other alternative, he starts his escape after being tasked by Gedeon to look for an artifact with very special characteristics. Throughout the adventure and in the midst of jumping, puzzles and shooting against an army of droids, the mystery of its origin will gradually be unraveled.

There is a specific feel in controlling the character that is undoubtedly one of the most striking parts of this title that, for those who are not used to it, can print equal amounts of charm and frustration. Movement and all the actions that Leo can perform, like firing his weapon, using his protective shield, or jumping while running, have to be measured and calculated perfectly. It’s a system that at first glance can convey a feeling of unresponsiveness, but once you get used to it, you can enjoy every little moment. In fact, I didn’t find any bug or problem related to the game mechanics, just my lack of skill when jumping in motion.

To cross a room full of guards it is possible to have one of two approaches, stealth or combat. Leo is equipped with the roll ability that not only allows him to pass through tight areas but also allows him to dodge attacks from guards or position himself more favorably. Each enemy type needs to take a different number of shots to go down and has a different attack pattern. The important aspect in this sense is to really learn their attack pattern so that it is possible to calculate the next move.

Checkpoints can sometimes be quite far apart, and a misjudged jump, traps, or enemy encounters can easily reduce Leo’s health hearts to zero. However, the objects collected so far will be stored in the inventory, thus allowing the player to continue the action without the need to repeat his task again. As I mentioned, in this title habituation and patience are a virtue.

Lunark is undoubtedly a milestone in cinematic platformers. The brilliant animation translated into low-resolution pixels adds a very demarcated detail of charm. The affection imprinted in this game is also visible in the fantastic cutscenes scattered throughout this title. While it’s possible to finish your story in about 6 hours, it’s a pretty juicy 6 hours. Albaryne’s history is a lot more complicated than it appears, and Leo’s journey to Lunark won’t leave the planet and the player the same as when they began.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game for Steam acquired by me]