By Guy Rainey / April 11th, 2014
|Title||Luna’s Wandering Stars|
|Release Date||March 25, 2014|
|Age Rating||E (unofficial)|
Luna’s Wandering Stars is a fun little puzzle game that demonstrates one simple fact: playing with physics is fun. In short, this game is about playing with gravity on a 2D plane. If that appeals to you, I think it’s worth the purchase.
The premise of the game is simple. There’s no plot. There are nine planets (or eight planets, plus Pluto), each with fifteen puzzles. Each planet offers a different kind of control. Mercury has you set the speed and trajectory of your moon. Venus has you using rockets to boost the moon’s trajectory. Earth has you controlling the gravitational force of the Earth, and so on. Your job is to maneuver a moon (possibly two) to gather enough mass to beat the each level. To do this, you’ll need to have your moon collect some of the asteroid bits lying around the level. If you manage to collect enough gold bits, you’ll unlock more challenging levels. Some of these bits are stationary, and you’ll have to maneuver yourself near them. However, some are affected by the gravity of the planet you are orbiting, the moon you are controlling, and even other asteroid bits. You can’t just brute force your way to solutions, though. There’s a timer (always less than a minute), so you can’t take too long to collect the mass you need to finish the puzzle. There’s no point system, so you’ll just try to collect all the gold bits in each puzzle (which is quite challenging most of the time).
Now that I’ve gotten my hands on the game, I can’t believe no one has thought of doing something like this before. Gravity is a simple calculation. That computer only needs to be told the mass of each object. Take the Mercury set of puzzles. The game takes the gravitational force of everything around to figure out where the moon will go, and gives you a rough guideline (which will change as the object gains more mass). You don’t have to know any math, since the computer keeps track of all of that for you (though it helps if you understand how gravity actually works). It’s a beautifully simple system that allows for a lot of experimentation. The team has done a lot with the concept. When everything is affected by everything else, there’s never one right answer, giving a lot of options on how you can approach each problem.
In addition to all the clever puzzles, the readme blurbs at the beginning go from tutorial, to hints, jokes, educational tidbits and pseudo philosophical ideas over the course of the game’s puzzles. There’s enough useful information and clever humor that I suggest reading them. You’ll probably get a laugh out of a few of them.
The game should run just fine on any PC. I played at my full resolution and full specs on my i3 laptop, and it ran perfectly. So, if you’ve got a PC, you should be able to play it. And the game looks very nice. Everything looks exactly how it should. Asteroids look like asteroids. The planets look like the pictures we’ve seen. There’s only minor differences in the background colors for the different planets, but that’s not so bad (it’s space after all; what do you expect). The music is nice, if forgettable. The music is soothing mostly (Mars is more action heavy, though that’s the exception) There are some bugs in the interface (I’ve had the Puzzle Select interface overlay over the main menu), but they’re harmless, and the actual game doesn’t have any problems. It’s a pretty good package all in all.
Honestly, there’s really not much more to say, other than it’s good. The puzzles are well-designed, and there are a lot of unique ways you’ll interact with the game. I played for at least 10 hours, and I wouldn’t say I’m finished yet (some of those gold pieces are hard to get). Plus, there’s an option for custom maps. I can’t wait to see what other people come up with. If you’re looking for a nice puzzle game to play for a while, here’s a good one. If you want to play around with gravity, try it out. There’s a lot of worse games you can get for $9.95.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Luna's Wandering StarsSerenity Forge