The Sun and Moon: Soaring Just Shy of the Stars

The Sun and Moon
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The Sun and Moon
Available on: Xbox One, Steam, PlayStation 4
Release Date: January 26, 2017(Xbox One, PlayStation 4) November 14, 2014 (Steam)
Price: $6.99/£5.59
Reviewed on: Xbox One

The Sun and Moon is a platformer developed by one man, Daniel Linssen, and published by Digerati. The game is based around controlling a small creature that is, naturally, bound by the rules of gravity. You collect a number of small orbs, usually three, to open a wormhole you exit to complete a level. You can jump to dodge sharp spikes and pitfalls or to avoid creatures hunting you. By completing a level within certain time requirements, you’ll earn crescent moon, full moon and sun badges.

However, there is a neat twist. You also have the ability to phase through matter and into walls or other surfaces. When you do, gravity is completely reversed, rocketing your character out of the walls. The Sun and MoonThe more momentum you gain, whether from falling great distances or phasing though multiple objects rapidly, the faster you will accelerate when phased into matter. This allows for some absolutely crazy puzzle combinations, as you are forced to jump and platform one moment, then phase at just the right moment through a wall the next. Some of the puzzles presented here (there are well over 150) are extremely challenging, requiring perfect timing and quite a bit of critical thinking to plan out your jumps appropriately. Due to the time challenges, this also means that even the simpler levels are highly replayable.

The graphics are presented in a clear retro style, with blocky 2D textures and floating objects. It’s an endearing style, especially with the chosen color palette. Everything shown on-screen uses a wide range, always complimenting the background, which has a near-marbled quality. The image is crisp, with a clean 1080x1920p resolution and a rock-solid framerate, so the camera never stutters or chugs during the hectic bouncing and phasing of the puzzles.

The soundtrack is also decidedly retro, with electronic music that will instantly be familiar to anyone who ever spent a decent amount of time in an arcade. The beats are catchy and fitting for the style of game.The Sun and Moon However, I do feel they are far too repetitive. While the soundtrack expands as you play, it doesn’t do so by a broad amount, so you are going to be hearing the same notes again and again, and again, and again. Unfortunately this can make the earlier levels somewhat more annoying to listen to, with a complete lack of variety in the soundtrack so early on.

There is, unfortunately, another area the game somewhat stumbles in. The sensitivity curves on the character’s directional control aren’t quite up to par. Often, I’d try to tilt my thumbsticks slightly, and the trajectory would soar past where it needed to be. I was able to solve this problem by using an Xbox One Elite Controller and changing the sensitivity, that said, that’s hardly an ideal solution.

The Sun and MoonThe Sun and Moon is not a bad game. It’s a good game, especially given how it is a one-man effort. The use of phasing through matter and reversing gravity is a simple twist that works wonders for level design. It hearkens back to a simpler time in gaming, however, that doesn’t mean it is a relaxing experience. Far from it. The puzzles are not easy, even early on, and there’s plenty of them. With that said, the lack of variety in the (otherwise great) soundtrack and some wonky controls hold back what could otherwise have been a stellar experience. Still, it’s only $7. If you want a bit of challenging nostalgia, I’d say it’s worth it.

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