Title: Luna: The Shadow Dust
Developer: Lantern Studio
Release Date: February 13, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Application Systems
Genre: 2D Point and Click Puzzle Adventure
I rarely find myself gravitating towards the puzzle genre. While I’m fine with them breaking up the action, I generally stay away from games primarily focused on hurting my head. Well, that was the case, until I picked up Luna: The Shadow Dust. This 2D point-and-click puzzle adventure is a tale full of mystery and wonder, presented in beautifully hand-drawn graphics and animations that I adored.
Luna: The Shadow Dust presents a very curious world. You begin in a Dark environment, that looks almost like a desert. While you explore, you meet a ghost who guides you to a Tower where the rest of your journey takes place.
Along the way, you meet a small furry companion who helps you progress through anything that stands in your way. Slowly but surely, you reveal the wonders of this strange place, all done through cutscenes without dialogue. This creates an interesting sense of immersion for the player, and embodies the saying “show, don’t tell”.
The game plays in a very “off-handed” manner, where player interactions and puzzle design detail the narrative. While this way of storytelling works for some games, I had trouble trying to piece together this world. The puzzles give you glimpses into a culture that values art and music, a land full of magic and mystery. However, I left with only a small understanding of what this world has to offer.
The biggest bonus to this kind of storytelling is being able to display the bond and connection between two characters. As you progress the story, the bond between our two main protagonists strengthens. The way their interactions pair with one another to make solving puzzles feel natural adds to the game’s enjoyment.
One of the major features of the game is the stunning hand-drawn graphics and animation. These animations have been drawn frame by frame and it shows during gameplay. This level of detail creates smooth, beautiful looking animations that helped tremendously with the game’s immersion. Even at only 12 frames per second, all of the walking, climbing, and interaction animations are impressive.
The soundtrack is also favorable. The music is light and lovingly composed. It wraps you in a world filled with mystery and intrigue as it is winds-focused, with a strong emphasis on flute, as well as harp melodies. The music overall adds character to a game that has a lot to show for itself.
Now, what about the gameplay and the puzzles? Honestly, it’s what you would expect from a classic point-and-click adventure, clicking to move around the level to interact with objects is what you’ll find. This is standard fare, and I personally found no issues at all with this gameplay. It was simple and straight to the point, and playing as both characters is fluid with the press of a button.
In regards to the puzzle design, I found a lot of them to be entertaining, as it becomes more challenging as you progress. It’s the kind of puzzles that forces you to take some time to plan out an approach. There are unique ways to get through levels, such as having you mess with the lights in a room, alter color patterns, and many others. Overall, it is an experience that is worth having.
Luna: The Shadow Dust is a nice nod to classic point-and-click puzzle games. Everything melds together beautifully, and it provided me with a solid puzzle experience. Despite my aversion to this genre, I found the experience pleasant overall. Some of the puzzles left me stumped, but after getting through them I felt accomplished in their defeat.
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