2015.02.09 update: This game made our Top 5 PC games of 2014 list!
Winner of Ludum Dare 29, a competition where participants create a video game that fits a certain theme within two days (!), The Sun and Moon is a puzzle game where players collect orbs by guiding a small ball of darkness through (literally) 150 obstacle-filled levels of various difficulty. Once the orbs are collected, players then must make it into a worm hole to complete the stage. Daniel Linssen, the game’s developer, created The Sun and Moon in just 24-hours for Ludum Dare 29’s theme of “Beneath the Surface.” The Sun and Moon not only did well at Ludum Dare 29 but ended up taking first place overall, 1st in theme, 2nd in fun and 3rd innovation. Linssen designed a full version shortly after for commercial release. Smart man.
If you couldn’t see it in the trailer above, The Sun and Moon can get pretty crazy. Timing and proper positioning is everything if you want to capture all the orbs needed to clear the stage. The ball of darkness you control adheres to the laws of physics…until you flip them. Once you press the action key, black is white and up is down. You can even pass through solid objects. It’s a pretty interesting concept. With enough momentum you can phase through things, but when you do, you begin to fall up. The faster you fall however, the longer you can resist the reverse pull of gravity and continue downward. If you don’t manage to build up enough speed, the black ball will be shot upward and gain significant air, which is used in many levels. There are also various obstacles that can kill you in this game, making certain stages more challenging than others due to frequent, death-related restart. It’s definitely frustrating. Even when you do complete a stage, you can always go faster. Linssen gives players three clear times to aim for in every stage.
The controls couldn’t be easier. Linssen designed The Sun and Moon to play not only using an Xbox 360 controller, but with WASD and Arrow-Keys as well. I don’t know if this was intentional but allowing players to choose which side of their keyboard to use if they don’t have a controller is really handy (no pun intended) for left or right-handed gamers. But despite it’s simple controls, The Sun and Moon is also incredibly challenging. Linssen even agrees with this, calling his game “easy to punching-yourself-in-the-face-with-a-brick difficult.”
This game uses a non-linear unlocking method as well. meaning you don’t necessarily have to beat level 4 to get to level 8. This way, one particularly challenging level (and there are a lot of them) won’t halt your progress through the 150 psychedelic levels that is The Sun and Moon. Visually, the game is a real treat. Though it was only made in 24-hours, Linssen managed to give his game personality and aesthetic appeal. You can tell this by simply looking at the screenshots. Each image has its own feel of danger and excitement, reminiscent to an abstract work of art. You may not always know what you’re looking at, but you know how it makes you feel. The Sun and Moon‘s musical score is also worth noting. It’s not just the same music that loops over and over. It has a unique score created by Dubmood that lengthens and changes as you progress throughout the game. You may hear the equivalent of a junior high band on Stage 5 but a professional symphony on Stage 119.
If you’re looking to play something different this holiday season, The Sun and Moon is it. With an award-winning background, several challenging levels and a vibrant art style to boot, you can’t ask for more out of a platform puzzler than this. Buy it on Steam now through December 2 to take advantage of the Steam Exploration Sale and save yourself a cool 20% off the The Sun and Moon‘s usual price-tag of $9.99. If you are still not sure this award winner deserves a spot in your trusty Steam library, head over to this website where you can experience the first 30 levels of The Sun and Moon for FREE!!! Just click on the box with all the squares to choose your stage. ENJOY!
Gameplay - 9/10
Challenge - 9.5/10
Design - 10/10
The Sun and Moon has very unique, physics-based gameplay. Combined with its minimalistic level design and wonderfully retro sound track you can't help but jam out to, and you have yourself a phenomenal puzzle game you'll want to keep playing.