LUNA The Shadow Dust is a solid puzzle adventure game that is amazingly accessible to players, in a way more games should strive to emulate. As you play you are taken through a beautiful world of shadow that you will slowly bring back to the light. The game is charmingly illustrated, and the music is elegantly relaxing, creating a very Zen-like player experience.
Developer Lantern Studio has made a lot of moves toward accessibility and player engagement. LUNA The Shadow Dust is a simple point and click adventure that doesn’t require any complicated hand movements, or for the player to remember keyboard controls for actions. Though much of this game relies on the contrast between the shadows and the light, there is a walkthrough to change the color and contrast settings to make the game experience easier for players who are color blind or have a hard time with the shadows.
One small criticism that may turn some players off from the game is the complete lack of hints available. The puzzles progress in difficulty level, but the rooms are not connected, meaning everything you need to solve the puzzle is in the room. This makes the game easy to step away from and continue later, but it also means if you are not understanding a certain puzzle there is no way for you to get help with it inside the game. Personally, having to exit a game to Google hints can really take you out of the moment and reduces your immersion.
Despite this, the game is easily one of the most visually engaging games I have played in some time. The hand drawn nature of the game adds to the visual appeal creating soft lines and great contrast. The main character gives me Adventure Time vibes with his fun bunny ear hat, and interactions. He becomes a relatable character in a world of magic and mystery and keeps the story line in focus. In my opinion though, his sidekick is the real star of the show.
Early in the adventure you encounter a small animal in trouble, and by helping it you unlock a faithful companion for the rest of the game. Each of the characters is controlled separately and can easily be switched between by clicking on the character you want to control or hitting the spacebar on your computer. The small creature is a truly magical animal of light and shadow that adds a lot to the game play. Its quirky nature and amusing facial expressions quickly worm their way into your heart, and you find yourself rooting for this character’s success as much as the main character.
The start of the game is two dimensional, with minimal points of interaction, but as you begin playing with the light you open up a world of clues revolving around contrast and quick thinking. In the shadows you get to explore new ways to interact with the world, and in the light, you learn of the truth and history of the tower. Each floor offers new opportunities to interact with the world and teaches you lessons on game play that will be used again in the future. This kind of progressive interaction makes the game more engaging and keeps players on their toes.
Excitingly the soundtrack and the art book will be released at the same time as the game. The soundtrack is as wonderfully relaxing, and elegant when listening outside of the game as it is during play. The art book contains highlights from the game, so you might want to wait until you finish the game to download it, unless you enjoy seeing the spoilers before you play.
The inviting nature of the game pulls you in and keeps your attention to the very end. The ease of the controls, use of pictographs over words, and ability to adjust the visuals make this an extremely accessible game for people of all levels of skill and ability. The relatability of the characters creates a bond that leaves you wanting the game to last longer, and the combination makes LUNA The Shadow Dust a wonderful game experience.
Developers: Lantern Studio
Platforms: GoG, Linux, Mac, PC, Steam