LUNA The Shadow Dust (PC) Review

By Athanasios 15.02.2020

Review for LUNA The Shadow Dust on PC

LUNA The Shadow Dust is a traditional, as well as minimalist, point-and-click adventure, crafted by newcomer dev, Lantern Studio. A tale of a boy plus his critter buddy, and their quest to reach the top of a mystical tower, this is basically a series of simple puzzles, beautifully wrapped in some fine, hand-painted, 2D visuals, with some melancholic tunes sprinkled around to complete the package. Sadly, While very pretty to look at, and deeply atmospheric, it's not as fun (or long) to play.

If there's one thing that this critic loves, that would be invisible tutorials. LUNA The Shadow Dust does a superb job at letting you learn how it works, and with not a single word wasted. In fact, this is completely text-less. From the title screen menu, where each option is represented by an icon, to the actual storytelling on offer, this is the epitome of "show not tell." The gameplay mechanics are equally minimalistic - it's point-and-click 101, but without the inclusion of an inventory, with the protagonist, a young boy(?) with a bunny-eared hood, moving around the world, and interacting with the usable hotspots, all through simple mouse clicks.

Screenshot for LUNA The Shadow Dust on PC

Initially, there is no story to experience. The boy, who from now on will be known as... ‘boy,’ wakes up in a dark realm, where a tower will appear. The boy goes in, and for almost an hour, all there is to do is solve puzzles, each one essentially being an escape room-esque riddle, where you try to open the door to the next level of the tower. The pacing is very good, with easy-yet-fun puzzle giving way to some, still easy, yet at the same time, pleasantly challenging obstacles, which then lead you to some a bit more complex scenarios that never aggravate while working out the solution.

You’ll soon meet a Pokémon-like critter, and from then on you’ll have to work together in order to move on to the next area, and this is actually when LUNA The Shadow Dust is at its best, as, besides the differences in height and weight between the two characters, this cute beastie can also jump to a parallel dark dimension of sorts, and essentially interact with the shadows in the background, and do things like, say, jump on them to reach a higher place, with the boy still having to aid it by moving appropriately in the room, and casting a helpful shadow for it to jump on.

Screenshot for LUNA The Shadow Dust on PC

Sadly, the game can frequently lose this level of quality in design, and not just by a small margin - something that, taking the very short length of the journey (three hours tops) into consideration, it's hard to forgive, as the bad parts are a big percentage of the adventure, and not just a small corner of it that's a little rough around the edges. To be more specific, many puzzles can feel like boring chores; puzzles where the solution is transparent from the very first couple of minutes, yet the steps that are required are slow and needlessly numerous, with one example being an occasion where you need to slowly choose a set of symbols, with no thought process needed on your behalf.

Screenshot for LUNA The Shadow Dust on PC

Sure, LUNA The Shadow Dust is beautiful. It's a hand painted masterpiece that looks like a fairy-tale book that has come to life; a fairy-tale book where Studio Ghibli has met Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. The contrast between the warm candle lights and the darkness of each area, the 19th century and Inca-ish inspired design of the tower's rooms, the mystical aura of the star-filled sky, the dreamy vibe of it all - it's great really… but it also feels that the developer was way too confident about how this looks, to the point that not much effort was put into the rest.

As for the story on offer, don't come in if you want your adventure games to be story-driven. Like mentioned in the beginning, this is mainly a series of puzzles. Yes, there's a story available, and like the gameplay, it too follows the "show not tell" principle, but it's probably way too obtuse to be entertaining. Like the rest of the experience, each cut-scene is absolutely stunning, but, in the end without substance. It's a masterfully crafted 'ok.' A shame, really, because this could be so much better if the team behind it had worked a bit more on the actual game and plot, rather than it's audio-visuals.

Screenshot for LUNA The Shadow Dust on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Too easy, too simple, and more often than not, too dull and slow, LUNA The Shadow Dust counts on its beautiful, fairy-tail, dreamy graphics, and soothing OST, a bit too much than it should. It's not a bad point-and-click adventure, sure, and those who can look past its heavy flaws will be entertained for about two to three hours, but if it weren't for its stunning hand-painted world, few would give it a second look.

Developer

Lantern Studio

Publisher

Application Systems Heidelberg

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, mikem52, Ofisil, Sasari

There are 4 members online at the moment.