If you’re anything like me, the release of a new game emphasizing story both excites you and makes you suspicious. While the prospect of a compelling narrative blended with interactivity is certainly exciting, there are so many games out there which fail to deliver on the basic tenets one expects: a driving story experience with engrossing audio and visuals, which does not allow the secondary component of gameplay to suffer as a result of this shifted focus. When I first heard of Deliver Us The Moon, my curiosity was piqued, but I was wary. Thankfully, my time with the game has assuaged my fears. Deliver Us The Moon offered a riveting mystery story for me to sink my teeth into while writing my review, with impressive audio, visuals and environmental detail to boot. While it suffers from a few minor issues, developers KeokeN Interactive and Wired Productions have crafted an experience worthy of praise.
Deliver Us The Moon is available for purchase on the Microsoft Store for $24.99. It is also available via Xbox Game Pass/Game Pass Ultimate.
Story – To The Moon and Back
Deliver Us The Moon is set in our near future. The inhabitants of its world suffer from a large-scale energy crisis. With the Earth’s resources largely depleted by the 2030s, things look bleak until a high-yield source of energy dubbed Helium-3 is discovered on the Moon. The MPT, a system for wireless energy transfer, is developed, and Earth begins to recover. When this system suddenly fails without explanation, however, humanity is once more plunged into chaos and uncertainty.
You play as one of the last remaining members of the World Space Agency, or WSA, five years after the calamitous blackout. Your mission: to restore the MPT system and discover what transpired on the lunar surface all those years ago. From the very beginning of Deliver Us The Moon, mystery is the name of the game. While the core narrative revolves around this central question, smaller ones seem to crop up faster than answers can be found. Where does your character fit in amidst all this? Where are all the crew members who were supposedly stationed on the Moon years prior?
The game does a wonderful job of feeding its player story details as they progress through its narrative. Collectibles such as audio clips and scannable objects help build in-game dossiers, building on your character’s understanding of the situations alongside your own. While the opening moments of the game feel very exposition-heavy, this fades away quickly after the first act, and with it any dissonance said exposition may have caused. During my playthrough, the story managed to hook me from the end of its first act to the end of its last. I quickly became invested in both the stakes and the characters – if I were to fail, the consequences would clearly be dire.
The setting itself comes off as incredibly poignant. It feels in many ways like a warning of a potential future, given the energy and resources crisis hovering in the collective consciousness of 21st-century life. As if that weren’t enough to sell the story, Deliver Us the Moon‘s world is littered with additional detail for attentive players to notice. One example I picked up on were antidepressant tablets which can be found in the first act with character Claire Johanson’s belongings. While these may not seem significant, similar tablets can be found in a later act in Claire’s father’s quarters, hinting at a genetic predisposition to depression. It is minor details such as these which help the game shine.
The undercurrent of family in the game’s story is plain to see, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting to witness. Without spoiling too much, a major theme of Deliver Us The Moon is what we will do for those we care about, and how much higher we value their lives above all others. A well-crafted story with global stakes presented on a smaller familial level is a feat of storytelling, and deserves commendation. The conclusion delivered at the end of the final act felt entirely satisfying to me. While I was left wondering about one or two things by my journey’s conclusion, my story, the story of the character you control, felt neatly wrapped up.
Gameplay – Back Down to Earth
Deliver Us The Moon suffers more in the gameplay department than in any other, but even in that, the experience is largely enjoyable. You will spend most of your time with the game exploring and solving environmental puzzles which ramp up in difficulty with each subsequent act. It is in the movement of the player character that this hits its highest highs, as well as its lowest lows, during my playthrough. The zero-gravity portions of the game feel amazing – clearly inspired by such films as 2013’s Gravity, the sense of quiet foreboding and gentle grace that comes hand in hand with floating untethered in a dilapidated space station is second to none.
Strangely, though, the first act of the game left a bad taste in my mouth that I had to shake before getting that far. The physics on Earth, ironically, feel floatier and harder to control than any you experience in space or on the Moon, at least on Xbox One. Additionally, the game would often stutter for me in larger, more open areas, yet run buttery smooth indoors. A more consistent experience would have been appreciated, but ultimately did not detract much from my enjoyment.
Deliver Us The Moon‘s puzzles never pushed me to my limit, but they were challenging enough to compliment its story with moments of useful contemplation. The difficulty curve is also well maintained – the most difficult experiences were in the final few acts, after I had grown familiar with the mechanics available to me. It also features several set-pieces. These function as puzzles, yet on a grander scale, and with far more visual spectacle. They were always a welcome change of pace when they appeared, and gave the game that extra “wow” factor during my playthrough. While the last of these seems difficult, there is a trick to it which, once sussed out, facilitates a high-octane, edge of your seat finale.
The moments in which Deliver Us The Moon‘s gameplay feels the least engaging is those in which you are placed in danger. These moments come in two forms: areas deprived of oxygen, and areas with patrolling enemies which can be found late-game. While both of these – the former especially – are perfect scenarios in concept, they suffer in that neither feels at all challenging. I could easily breeze through areas in which I was meant to feel like I was suffocating. Likewise, in many areas where enemies are meant to stoke fear and urge caution, I was able to sprint through damage none the worse for wear, ignoring them entirely. I would have much preferred these sections to have been reworked for an extra bit of added difficulty. As they stand, they are the sole immersion-breaking factor.
Graphics and Audio – Wonder Among the Stars
The visuals and animations powering Deliver Us The Moon‘s story are incredible. That should be no surprise, given that team members at KeokeN Interactive worked on animations for such titles as Horizon Zero Dawn, but it amazes nonetheless. Grandiose environments such as the lunar surface or the vast expanse of space are as eye-catching as small rooms stuffed to the brim with detail. For an environment as monochromatic as our Moon, Deliver Us The Moon manages to provide interesting eye candy at every corner. The occasional stuttering aside – possibly the result of motion blur – the game’s animations only highlight its stunning environments.
Likewise, Deliver Us The Moon‘s audio is sublime, and serves only to better frame its already engaging story. The theme of a scene can shift from hopeful to serene to tense on the turn of a dime as the result of what track is playing. Voice lines are well-delivered, particularly in the case of actors Eli Thorne and Nola Klop as Isaaca Johanson and Sarah Baker, respectively. These characters draw the best out of the game’s final act, and that is largely the result of their voice actors’ stellar performances. The fact that I became so easily invested in two characters portrayed by faceless, polygon holograms is frankly astounding.