Author Topic: Moons Of Madness [2019 -- Rock Pocket Games]  (Read 44 times)

Offline Starfox

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Moons Of Madness [2019 -- Rock Pocket Games]
« on: July 19, 2020, 02:18:12 PM »
On Mars, nobody can hear you scream... at least not while you're suffocating.

Shane Newehart has a master degree in engineering and was selected for a secret mission on Mars. While everybody on Earth, including his family, think he is freezing his jewels in Antarctica, Shane actually maintains and repairs broken stuff in the facilities housing him and his four colleagues on the red planet. The Invictus mission objective is to find any sign of life on Mars. However, not all is as it seems. Shane has recurring nightmares and strange things are happening. Along the road, he will learn truths about his mother, who disappeared when he was a child, about himself and about one of the most powerful force in the universe.

Moons of Madness is what happens when Lovecraft crashes into the future. Or at least it's what the developers intended. The game assembles the familiar themes of psychological horror, madness and mystery cult and transpose them on Mars. The story is compelling and the atmosphere appropriate. Those two points alone suffice for me to grant a green smiley... however, some gameplay elements draw the game down, especially near the end.

Most of the gameplay relies on puzzles that manage to drive the game away from what would be otherwise a fairly straight walking simulator. Those parts are fine. Most puzzle are solvable with little thinking. Near the end of the game however, the developers introduce a lot of "run for your life" sequences that unlike what you'd think are treated as puzzle (in other words, you have to find the correct route to escape the threat not to be the fastest possible). That would have been fine when just used once in the game but the principle was clearly overused near the end with a gameplay almost relying exclusively on that, unfortunately to the detriment of the atmosphere that is normally associated to Lovecraft's work -- atmosphere that, until that point, the game quite adhered to.

Ultimately, that is a personal judgement based on my tastes but that is enough to downgrade my global appreciation of the game from a green to a blue smiley as after all, those sequences of gameplay were enough to get in the way of the fun I had with the game.

Aside stupid "run for your life" sequences, a number of other things can kill your character like things coming from the darkness (unhealthy), your occasional killer monster, lack of oxygen (you're on Mars, what do you expect?)... and on. For the most part those dangers are easily avoided. Gamers pining for a hardcore experience will regret the absence of difficulty levels, this game being more adapted to players used to what is called "normal" difficulty in other games.

A few little details were added that arguably contribute to a deeper immersion in their little ways. For example, the heart rate of Shane will increase when sprinting but also as peace of mind turns to anxiety and anxiety to terror, this in turn has a direct effect on Shane's oxygen consumption rate (when in EVA mode) and Shane begins to experience coordination problems, fumbling while using buttons or replenishing his oxygen reserves at special stations. Nothing game changing but still nice little touches here and there.

Eventually, Moons of Madness, similarly to Call of Cthulhu, that I reviewed more than a year ago, moderately fails in the gameplay area, although not for the same reasons. Still, and in spite of some true moments of frustration, the game is a nice experience for any fan of Lovecraft due to the story and the atmosphere.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 10:42:31 PM by Starfox »


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Offline Silver Sorrow

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Re: Moons Of Madness [2019 -- Rock Pocket Games]
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2020, 02:16:53 PM »
I just finished this one, and I agree...it's mostly very good, but the run-for-your-life thing was used a bit too much. I wouldn't have minded if it was a puzzle-based walking simulator, really.

A few points:

- I think it's possible that it is wholly within Lovecraft's universe; Shane graduated from Miskatonic U, after all. Just set 80 years (give or take a few) from the events of Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. Just wait until they take a closer look at Yuggoth...I mean, Pluto. :ss-ahhhh

- With that said: Declan Delapore. A descendant of the de la Poer clan, perhaps? (i.e., The Rats in the Walls.)

- My biggest problem with the game was the complete inability to remap my controls. The default WASD may be fine for some people, but I'm so used to WZXC that getting around was a definite pain. And, thanks to a couple of days playing this thing, it's messed me up for other games for a while. :P  ("I meant to merely sidestep, but I ended up pulling a shotgun on the poor kid.")

- Not a fan of QTEs.

- Died a few times. I hate security bots, by the way. Hate them so much.

- During frantic escapes, if you lose your way you can quickly "blip" your bioscan (or whatever) thingy and it'll show you the idea path. This was quite helpful when trying to avoid things outside at the very end. (Clarification: just quickly hitting right mouse, not holding it down as if I was trying to "connect" to something.)

In all, I'd say it was a good game, but it's probably best if you can find it on sale. I don't think I'll ever play it again, so perhaps $24.99 was a bit steep for a one-play game. But at least it got me away from my Skyrim rut. ::)

[Special little side note: since Antarctica's been extensively mapped by satellite, At the Mountains of Madness isn't really feasible anymore. (It relied heavily on vast yet-to-be-discovered mountains, etc., and...well.) So it's off to Mars!]

[Although...the thrust-up-from-the-ocean-bed premise of The Call of Cthulhu is still entirely possible...]
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Offline Starfox

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Re: Moons Of Madness [2019 -- Rock Pocket Games]
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2020, 11:03:42 PM »
Quote
My biggest problem with the game was the complete inability to remap my controls. The default WASD may be fine for some people, but I'm so used to WZXC that getting around was a definite pain.

WZXC... see, that's what happens when one plays too much Thief  :lol:

Joke aside I had several person telling me that I wasn't taking into account the lack of proper kb+m support in my reviews. Thing is I play with the Steam controller and have been doing so for the past 5 years so yeah, I don't pay too much attention to that aspect of games anymore. Nevertheless, rebinding keys is apparently a common issue with many new games according to what I've been told.

But there are so many issues with gaming in general nowadays ::)

Quote
At the Mountains of Madness isn't really feasible anymore.

It's not the mountains you have to be afraid of... It's what lies below  :ss-cthulhu


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein