‘Lunnye Devitsy’ Review – Fly Me To The Moon!
While Lunnye Devitsy is not a recent release, this little gem from Boss Baddie deserves all the attention it can get, even now. Published a couple of years ago in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, this starry-eyed puzzle platformer for the PC takes gamers on an interplanetary expedition like no other.
In the game, you play a lost little alien (a girl alien, I assume, since the title translates roughly to “moon girl”) who is basically the scrawnier, twitchier version of the Limbo boy. Somehow, she has managed to fall off the moon and onto a strange new planet – not too surprising actually, considering the moon (which oddly resembles the dial of a rotary phone) is pretty darn small, relatively speaking. Either that, or the little alien girl isn’t so little after all. At any rate, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to get her back home.
Of course, video game logic dictates that your mission won’t be as easy as simply phoning home ET-style. There are six possible paths to the moon, and you must find them all in order to complete the game. Some are simple to execute, once you figure them out – which is a feat in itself, considering how abstract a few of them are – while others may require the patience of a saint and an extra helping of hand-eye coordination. One puzzle in particular requires the player to hide and wait for a random in-game event. While the concept is clever, staring blankly at the screen and doing nothing but wait for up to ten minutes or so is not exactly a thrilling experience – and having to do it more than once if you screw up the bit that comes next is even less amusing.
What is also frustrating is the fact that quitting resets the game. Don’t panic – progress is saved, in that the game will remember how many trips to the moon you’ve completed thus far. Puzzles and power-ups, however, are not. This means you are in for some serious backtracking, as some of these, such as the double-jump ability or pushing a button that moves a platform out of your way, are necessary in order to make progress in most, if not all, of the paths home.
Luckily, Lunnye Devitsy is not a trial-and-death type game. In fact, it’s impossible to die. The worst thing that can happen to you (in-game, at least) is getting lost, which can result in even more irksome backtracking. There is no map for the terra incognita you’ve inadvertently discovered, and this brave new world is vast and varied. Exploration is truly the highlight of the game. Each new area is characterized by its own unique atmosphere; crossing the invisible borders causes transformations in terrain, color, lighting, and sound, and traveling becomes a treat in itself as you uncover the secrets of this strange, extraterrestrial wonderland.
The score in particular merits special mention. The music for all of the environments is pitch-perfect, balancing each landscape’s distinct mood with the unified effect of an underlying piano theme tying the world together. The breadth achieved here is fantastic, with songs ranging from wistful, simple melodies, to sweeping epic adventure themes, to threatening bass-and-synth tracks that sound like they crawled straight out of a creepy 80s horror flick.
While the puzzles are creatively done and the world is unarguably intriguing, Lunnye Devitsy feels oddly empty when it comes to interactivity. Despite having so much to explore and so much to do, the direct actions the player can take generally include jumping, walking, running, and swimming. There are no levers to pull, no monsters to fight, and no UFOs to fly. While occasionally something extra is required, such as tapping a key to hide in a particular spot or aiming a cannon, these instances are rare and brief. Even solutions involving other creatures are lonely endeavors; there is no option for conversation, and NPCs do little more than react via emoticons to an action the player takes (or fails to take). That’s not to say the game won’t keep you busy collecting things, jumping platforms and scratching your head, wondering what the heck to do next, but little things like being able to push and pull things would have added an extra dimension to gameplay. It would be nice to feel as though you are actually part of the world, even if you are only visiting.
Overall, however, the flaws in Lunnye Devitsy are generally minor when compared to the beautiful and imaginative aesthetics of the game. The biggest trouble is the difficulty; as previously mentioned, some of the solutions are quite strenuous, both to work out and to execute. But this is not a pushy game, and though full completion is obviously encouraged, the real entertainment lies in merely exploring and experiencing the world at your own pace – which, thanks to the brilliant atmosphere and mind-boggling layout, turns out to be a truly enjoyable enterprise.
Lunnye Devitsy is available for purchase on both Steam and Desura for only $2.99. In addition, Boss Baddie is currently offering it as part of their Lunar Pack, which also includes Wake (review coming soon!).
Review summary Pros:
Dripping with atmosphere, vast and interesting environmental design, innovative puzzles, beautiful and fitting soundtrack, lets the player set the pace, low price
May require excessive backtracking, some solutions are extremely abstract and/or difficult, limited interactivity with environment, quitting results in minor loss of progress