Review: Moons of Madness
There are probably people out there who have had worse times on Mars than Shane Newehart –Schwarzenegger in Total Recall or Matt Damon in The Martian for example – but by the end of Moons of Madness you’ll have to admit his experience ranks right up there.
Newehart is an engineer for Orochi, a space exploration company that needed his expertise on their Mars research outpost. What the poor sap doesn’t know going into this trip is that the outpost is a front for a program to find the source of a message coming from the planet.
At the outset, Newehart’s job eases players into both the game’s controls and the outpost’s layout as he goes about his day to day work. Replacing batteries and doing on the spot repairs isn’t glamorous or even necessarily fun, but it does a great job of introducing the player to the world and cementing the atmosphere.
And, of course, it soon goes downhill – way downhill.
The game’s environment is, as you’d expect from a research outpost, clinical and sterile at first but soon gives way to a truly Lovecraftian mess of tentacles and weird ooze, and it’s at this point that your early busywork pays dividends. Even though the environment is much more hostile, knowing the layout really helps when you’re – for example – fleeing from danger, should that sort of thing happen…
Don’t get the wrong idea here though, this is not a combat-heavy game and it owes more to walking sims than it does something like Doom Eternal. There are moments here and there where you’ll be tested, but most of the game is exploring, puzzling your way through obstacles, and trying to piece together the underlying story.
Moons of Madness is a bit short, running around six hours to complete, but if you love exploring you can run it up a bit more than that just playing around with the wealth of interactive objects. A personal favourite – the coffee machine that allows you to fill and drink as many cups as you’d like. This isn’t a truly scary game as the atmosphere is intense, but the enemies aren’t threatening enough, though there are some terror-filled chases that help keep the adrenaline flowing.
What I loved:
- great level design
- solid story
- amazing atmosphere
What I didn’t like:
- Some performance issues
- Irregular pacing
- A tad short