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Image via Stage 2 Studios/ Gamer Journalist

Review: Lifeless Moon Builds Upon Its Predecessor

Who is The Technician?

Stage 2 Studios makes their return with the Lifeless series from their 2014 release of Lifeless Planet to the new Lifeless Moon. Being an Apollo astronaut comes with its own unique struggles. From loneliness and isolation to dealing with limited resources such as your oxygen, water supply and food. But in the search for a new habitat or to perhaps be the first to land on the Moon, you and your companion find a split in time, an anomaly that calls you inside. Now separated and completely alone, what you knew of Earth is completely altered due to a rip in time. With settings similar to what we know of on our planet; with cities, diners and cabins, using rationality would not be possible in this current moment. But with your oxygen slowly running out, can you make sense of what you are seeing before you? This is Vincent’s review for Gamer Journalist on Lifeless Moon.

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A bit of history before we start; Lifeless Planet released back in 2014 with a price of $20. With it primarily acting as a walking simulator, combined with light puzzles as its core gameplay mechanics, I had hopes that its successor would have something that would both differentiate it from Lifeless Planet in regard to gameplay or bring something new to the table. However, with the $20 price mark again for Lifeless Moon and a short run-time to match, my initial hope was quickly taken away from me after a few hours in.

Is Scenery and Notes Enough to Tell a Proper Story?

Lifeless Moon follows the typical walking simulator ways of telling a tale through the gathering of notes. Whilst I can appreciate the nice scenery throughout the game, there is only so much style that can satisfy a gamer like myself. The narrative is interesting and has some intense moments of creepiness, with well-placed audio logs of horror-filled content and moments of brilliance of jumpscares. However, these moments are few and far between. The majority of the time you are walking through vast open landscapes with set pieces to make your primary goal to find the next clue and part of the puzzle needed to progress. Nothing required too much thought and although labelled as a 3D platformer, I found myself flying through both the puzzles and light platforming.

From my initial thoughts of “the story so far has been rather interesting – you play as an astronaut who goes through a portal and finds abandoned civilization of humans who housed alien technology. But there is something to fear inside the vast emptiness of the world and whilst the lack of sound feels peaceful at times against the beautiful views, there are times when you feel both observed and followed.” I still somewhat agree with that feeling of emptiness and isolation without it being a negative of the game’s narrative. The problem is however that the overall narrative is decent and nothing really to write home about. The moments of greatness lie in the moments that appear miniscule in comparison to the repetitive gameplay.

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Image via Stage 2 Studios/ Gamer Journalist

A Change in Scenery

I give credit to Lifeless Moon for doing something that most video games do not do nowadays which is the change in perspective throughout the story. This is done directly through the camera angle where you can switch between a third-person birds-eye overview of your character to truly take in the surroundings or go to a shoulder-view angle which behaves similarly to first-person. When you enter small buildings, you are restricted to a first-person view where your character stands stationary and has to look around and find the next POI to move around the room. This can add to the feeling of being trapped, lost and watched by something you cannot see. But once more, this feeling is cut short by the gameplay of searching for the cursor to fill to green so that you can move on or find the important item you need to progress.

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Image via Stage 2 Studios/ Gamer Journalist

The Mark of Walking Simulators: Repetition

The game does little to tell you how to play in regard to its control scheme. I often found myself mis-clicking or having little understanding on what I actually had to do to control specific parts of a puzzle. Most of it was simply moving things around until it fit which did not particularly take me a long enough time to actual feel like puzzle solving. The light platforming I mentioned previously felt longer than needed through occasionally failing a jump only to have to slow run towards the start of the platforming again which could be frustrating at times.

The feeling of not truly being alone is prevalent throughout and I truly did have moments of panic and intrigue in the tale. However, Lifeless Moon’s story was not enough to keep me captivated for the time between finding notes or progressing felt both repetitive and tedious. To progress you simply needed to find the next note, pick out the key information from it and move to the next destination to find the item needed to backtrack with. The game often uses light to guide you, which ended up feeling more hand-holding rather than exploring to your heart’s content. This is because the area of exploration is actually incredibly limited and with its light and easy-to-solve puzzles with simple platforming, I found myself actively seeking notes for stimulation rather than relying on visuals or gameplay.

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Image via Stage 2 Studios/ Gamer Journalist

A Philosophical End to a Space-Time Adventure

The ending to Lifeless Moon is one that I will not spoil but I will express my initial thoughts and feelings on it. With the antagonists being those that have been swayed and altered directly through their newfound and god-like powers, there are a few philosophical messages in between as its hard-hitting climax to the game. Stated that “nothing new is created and nothing truly ever dies” describes how our energy as humans simply goes back into the universe, perhaps as atoms or reincarnation or simply food for the worms and nutrients for the trees. Our memory however, is passed on to others who knew us and in turn is passed on down to others like a legend in a story.

However, this eventually and inevitably comes to an end, although it is not what the game is suggesting. Unless your name is written down in a book as a piece of history, your memory will eventually fade and even when humanity is wiped and some new species gains enough knowledge that compares to ours or blows it out of the water, all of the books ever written will be long gone and the world starts anew.

Whilst it is suggested by Lifeless Moon to sit back, enjoy the ride and take in Earth’s true beauty by seeing beyond the pain you experience; it is hard to do so when our lives are all that we know of in our one small existence and the pain of the everyday is the only thing that we ever experience. The little things often are overseen, taken advantage of on the daily and that in all of the madness, we are nothing but a little spec on the petri dish that is the universe. I agree with the sentiment that the world we live in, in itself is beautiful and our whole lives we live are often in luxury, bliss, ignorant and privileged if you are White and British like myself. Much like the ants we see under our feet, we cannot comprehend life outside of our bubble with most being unable to comprehend war going on outside of our privileged country.

The philosophical moments are decent but they do not bring anything particularly new or profound to the table without it simply acting as a profound moment against all of the walking, platforming and reading that you indulge in for Lifeless Moon.

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Image via Stage 2 Studios/ Gamer Journalist

Conclusion

Lifeless Moon definitely adds to the original game however it is not one that I highly recommend. If you are someone who loves walking simulators, this one is definitely for you. But for those looking for puzzles and platforming, Lifeless Moon is not challenging (although its intention was not to be a challenge), I still would have liked different mechanics added in to mix it up and create a balance much needed for this walking sim, Sci-Fi adventure. Lifeless Moon felt more like it could have been a book or something on Audible rather than a walking sim that is on the surface described as an Action game online but is far from it.

As for its story, for me, it was not interesting enough to warrant the repetitive gameplay mechanics of the game. For $20 and roughly a 3hr playtime, Lifeless Moon had a lot of potential but fell short primarily due to its gameplay and having to learn about the story through picking and reading the notes. It’s story could inspire those who like more philosophical messages at its climax but for those looking for something new and fresh, unfortunately Lifeless Moon does not hit that marker. Instead, this game should be played for those who enjoy walking sims and are looking for a Sci-Fi tale that is both easy to consume and play.

For those interested Lifeless Moon is available on PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows and Xbox One.

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Author
Hadley Vincent
Hadley is a Freelance Writer for Gamer Journalist. They have been with the company since October 2022. With a BSc Honors in Psychology, Hadley focuses their creativity and passion for Video Games by primarily covering Horror, FPS, and anything with a great narrative. You will often find Hadley covering the latest indie horror games or deploying into Call of Duty's DMZ. They love a good story and one that can keep them up at night, be that for its scares or its lore.