Anytime a new horror game comes along it usually is going to grab my attention since I’m such a fan of them. Resident Evil, Outlast, Dead Space, Silent Hill, you name it chances are I’ve played it. So when publisher Funcom and developer Rock Pocket Games revealed their new cosmic horror game Moons of Madness I just knew I had to check it out. After releasing on PC last year the game has finally come over to console for those of us who prefer to play there. Is this the next horror game you should be adding to your play list?
So what exactly is Moons of Madness you may ask? Well it’s a first-person, sci-fi horror game mixed with Lovecraftian elements. It’s a game less about combat and more about exploration and experiencing the story it is trying to tell. You play as an engineer named Shane Newehart who is stationed on a base on Mars called Trailblazer Alpha. Shane is here doing his job of keeping the lights on and the air supply going but he is oblivious to the fact that this base is really here on Mars to track a mysterious signal. As Shane goes about his work and waits on a ship to arrive with some replacement workers he slowly begins to sense that things aren’t right here on the red planet. These take the form of visions and dreams where he starts seeing tentacles and such. The Lovecraftian bits of the story weren’t necessarily anything new to me as I’ve seen many of these things in games like Bloodborne, Magrunner, and others but the atmosphere and visuals in this game still made these themes in the story enjoyable and creepy and it did manage to get me a few times with some jump scares.
In terms of gameplay the game is a fairly linear one and I completed it in around seven hours. As I said the game is mostly about exploring the base and the outside areas while solving some puzzles along the way. Later in the game you encounter some other types of gameplay like stealth and chase sequences and while I didn’t feel like these parts felt as good as they could’ve been due to some trial and error bits, I still enjoyed them. Puzzles and exploring usually involve things like looking for parts or locating a switch that needs flipping. Some of the tasks did get a little repetitive though and it felt like I was just doing them for no other reason other than to make the game a bit longer. Sections where I got to go outside were cool though as you have to put on a suit, make sure your air supply is good, open and close the doors to the space station and so on. It’s a series of events that again made it feel like I was really here on Mars.
The visuals in the game are easily one of the best things about this trip to Mars. The game has great lighting that helps set the mood perfectly and the camera work done here always frames things in a very cinematic way. Not only that but the station is full of little details everywhere you look that make it really believable and when you venture outside of it the art direction is still great. The only downside is that the game did have some minor frame rate issues that I noticed but they didn’t hurt my enjoyment of it too much. The audio work is also pretty good and I recommend you play it with headphones like I did. Voice performances were a bit of a mixed bag though with some characters sounding really good and some others sounding like they didn’t care too much for what they were reading. As for the trophy list the game has 24 in total including a Platinum. It should be a very easy one for most people to earn too as almost all of the trophies are story related.
As a fan of horror games I would recommend you play Moons of Madness at some point if you enjoy the genre. Not all of the gameplay sequences clicked with me and it didn’t do a whole lot new that I hadn’t seen before. That said, the atmosphere, visuals, and audio work did their job in making me feel like I was really there on that planet as Shane and that was really enough for me to enjoy my time with it.
*Moons of Madness is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
Moons of Madness$29.99
- Very good atmosphere and interesting Lovecraftian story
- Visuals inside and outside the station look great
- Makes you feel like you are on Mars with some well designed gameplay sequences
- Some of the puzzles can get repetitive
- Certain parts of the game didn't feel as good as they could've been
- Minor performance issues
- Inconsistent voice-acting