Deliver Us The Moon (2020) PS4 Review: Sci-fi mystery bathed in bleak beauty

4/5
An immersive quest to give humanity one last chance for survival. Though it suffers some engine trouble, this game shoots for the moon and delivers

Like countless sci-fi stories before it, Deliver Us The Moon uses humanity’s unbridled consumption of Earth’s natural resources as a launchpad for a desperate tale depicting our last gasp for survival. Set in the near future where humankind’s hubris has turned the planet into a barren dust ball incapable of sustaining life, the only hope for the future lies in mining valuable Helium-3 found on the Moon, converting it into energy and beaming it back to Earth.

After several successful years of operation, tragedy strikes when the lunar base suddenly ceases transmission and all contact with the colonists is lost, severing humanity’s only source of power and spelling doom once again. Luckily, a group of undefeatable scientists have scraped together the last of Earth’s power to enable a one-shot only mission to the Moon to investigate the state of the lunar colony, repair the transmitter and save humanity – and that’s where you come in.

The truth of the events that led to the loss of communication with the lunar colonists unfolds in the form of holographic recordings that can be replayed with help from your sidekick ASE drone, E-mails and audio records that can be found throughout the game, along with details hidden in the environment. Many of these finds are a stark contrast to the emotionless nature seen everywhere else in the game – the desolate planet, the sterile buildings, the faceless protaganist – and the emotion inherent in these captured glimpses of humanity are all the more powerful for it.

One thing that becomes abundantly clear before too long is how chameleonic the gameplay is. Within the first hour alone, the game veers between a third person environmental puzzle solving, a first person section requiring players to identify and implement a launch sequence, a docking mini-game and a gravity-free section wherein the player must float around an abandoned station and turn on the life support system before running out of air (which sounds intense, but is difficult to play without thinking of Homer Simpson drifting around a NASA rocket munching potato chips).

At the core is a linear third person puzzle game, but Deliver Us The Moon is not bound by tropes or expectations of its genre, it doesn’t compromise the story in order to fit the gameplay loop. This is a game that wants to keep the player in the action at all times and will adapt to make sure that it provides as immersive an experience as possible.

That immersion is only bolstered by the obvious care put into the visuals. The moon looks incredible and the colossal man-made structures protruding from its unforgiving surface are awe-inspiring. There are plenty of small delights to be found too – the change in weightiness and control in different environments, the way that newly-loosened objects gently drift away in zero-g, the reactions of your companion ASE drone to certain story events. These small details all add up to keep the player engrossed in their surroundings every step of the way.

It’s just a shame then that this painstakingly crafted immersion is regularly broken by performance issues. There are plenty of stutters and splutters, most noticeably every time the auto-save kicks in at which point the screen freezes altogether for a couple of seconds. There’s also several instances of slow texture loading and during a large part of the game’s unskippable end credits practically go by in slow motion due to the constant stutters.

Additionally – and this complaint likely won’t apply to the majority of players but seems worth noting – there seems to be a miscommunication between the settings menu and the main game where ‘controller vibration off’ is considered as more of a suggestion than a command, with vibration still in full effect during lunar rover segments.

The biggest drawback of Deliver Us The Moon is that it’s a very brief experience. The game can easily be completed within six hours and outside of a little trophy clean-up, there’s no real reason to go back after the credits roll.

Deliver Us The Moon brings together well designed environmental puzzles and tense, time-sensitive life or death sections with detailed, engrossing visuals and a soundtrack that waxes and wanes in precise harmony with the action. While the performance issues and short runtime prevent it from being an essential adventure, it’s still a trip worth taking. The journey may be brief, but above all else it’s atmospheric and uncompromisingly immersive.

Deliver Us The Moon is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Easter Egg

If you go exploring while driving around the moon's surface, you may just come across an iconic monolith from a well-known movie.

Tidbit

While there's little humour in the main story, the game's trophy list has a little fun. One trophy, for example, encourages you to "forget your training" and botch the initial launch in a variety of ways, whereas another encourages you to stare out of a telescope until a teddy bear in a space helmet floats by.

Story
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4/5
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