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LUNA The Shadow Dust Preview: Where Gaming and Art Coincide

LUNA The Shadow Dust won Best Visual Art at Indieplay Shanghai 2016 and was nominated for Best Game Audio at Indie Prize London 2018. After you play this demo for yourself, this will come as no surprise. It is a quick playthrough that leaves you eager for its winter release date!
LUNA The Shadow Dust Preview: Where Gaming and Art Coincide

LUNA The Shadow Dust Preview: Where Gaming and Art Coincide

Introduction

When playing through the demo of LUNA The Shadow Dust, you may find yourself very confused. I say this in a positive way, as the uncertainty of the story is what makes it so easy to get invested in this game. 

This demo is out now, but the full game is set to release sometime during the winter of 2019. Developed by Lantern Studio, and published by both Application Systems Heidelberg and Coconut Island Games, LUNA is an interactive point and click puzzle game. The demo does not include any information about the characters, the goal, or the setting. All you know is that you are playing as a nameless kid who faces strange puzzles that when solved, lead him into the next room. 

The Gameplay

This game is only about 15 minutes long unless you find yourself stuck on a puzzle. The highlights in LUNA include an adorable cat-like creature, who you eventually play as, along with absolutely stunning artwork. It isn’t simply the art itself, but more so the way the developers bring the art to life. They do this by brightening up these dark, plain rooms with colorful celestial scenery. As you complete another piece of the puzzle, you watch a whole new world open up right before your eyes.

The cat-raccoon?

The cat-raccoon?

The actual plot in this game is vague. You simply start playing as soon as it loads up. There are no major cutscenes that help you understand what is going on, which I assume is exclusive to the demo version. They likely do not want to spoil the game. You start off as this young character and run into a cute little cat along the way. Without the cat, there are certain puzzles that you cannot complete. So, the cat definitely plays a larger role in the game than simply being cute.  

With each room completion, a loading screen pops up. This screen displays a tower. Each time you complete a room, you advance your way up in this mysterious tower. The demo version stops midway up the tower, but it seems that the goal is reaching the top of this tall building. 

The Puzzles

Certain puzzles feel simple, while others are complex. I see this as a positive since none of the puzzles are undoable. Just like with any puzzle-oriented game, another player or a quick internet tutorial will help if you do get that stuck. However, according to the demo, the likelihood of needing help is slim unless patience isn’t your forte. 

A darkened puzzle room.

A darkened puzzle room.

Most puzzle rooms are pretty straightforward in their patterns. I only found myself struggling with one puzzle room in this game, but once another player took a look at it, the solution was obvious.

The Art

The best thing about this game, even better than the puzzles, is its aesthetic appeal. The developers create dark, dull rooms, and illuminate them with visually pleasing colors and lights. Even when the rooms are colorless, they still contain walls with elaborate drawings and carvings. 

Carvings and drawings that eventually light up.

Carvings and drawings that eventually light up.

Further, the music in combination with the artwork really brings this game to life. Lantern Studio implements the game with its own unique soundtrack. This emphasizes artistic inspiration and makes the game more enjoyable. The game’s streamable soundtrack is found here for free. 

Examples of the game’s music and artwork in action can be seen in the video below.

LUNA The Shadow Dust Demo is currently available for PC, Mac, Linux, IOS, and Android. It can be downloaded on Steam for free.

Summary
LUNA is certainly more story-driven than action-driven. As I've grown older, I personally prefer these types of story-driven games. However, those who like blood, gore, and action may not find it as appealing. Well, from what I know so far, at least. This game definitely seems aimed at those who love art, music, and the mysteries of life. In summary, LUNA The Shadow Dust is the most beautiful PC demo I have played so far. I felt great disappointment when I completed the demo. I can't wait to see what Lantern Studio has in store for the full game release this winter.
Good
  • Wonderful Art
  • Complex Puzzles
  • Mysterious Plot
  • Calming Music
  • Sparks Interest in the Full Game
Bad
  • No Character Names are Given
  • The Antagonist is Unknown

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