Moons of Madness review, a journey into cosmic horror

Combining science fiction and Lovecraft is not an easy thing. Let's find out in this review if Moons of Madness succeeds in the feat

Mars has always exerted a great fascination on all of us and the narrative has never stopped making it the protagonist of many stories, from The War of the Worlds to the most recent The Martian. Video games are no exception and in this review we are going to analyze Moons of Madness in detail. This is the title developed by Rock Pocket Games, which tries to bring the atmosphere of Lovecraftian memory to the red planet. The game has been available for a few months on PC and has recently also arrived on PS4 and Xbox One.

The strength to stand out

As we will see in detail in this review, Moons of Madness is essentially a first-person horror along the lines of the trend born after the success of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It is therefore a game in which the protagonist is almost defenseless, with a low environmental interaction and mainly based on narration. Over the years we have seen many games of this genre and it is difficult to establish itself on the mass.

In this case, the game tries to have its own identity by trying to combine typical elements of science fiction with the dreamlike terror of the author of Providence. So here we are aboard the Martian station Trailblazer Alpha, where some kind of presence is driving its inhabitants insane. It's up to our protagonist to investigate what happened e discover the terrible truth behind the construction of the base.

A poorly blended mixture - Review Moons of Madness

The feeling that arises from playing Moons of Madness is that struggles to achieve a good synthesis between the two topics dealt with. The sci-fi aspect and the Lovecraftian one are unglued within the narrative. The result is a story that tries to be cryptic, but only manages to be confusing and difficult to follow. Furthermore, given the large amount of elements brought into play in a few hours, no one is able to be thoroughly investigated.

Many of the explanations are entrusted to the numerous texts scattered around the setting. This causes a management of fluctuating game rhythms, in fact, it is not rare to stop for many minutes to read e-mails or letters written by other characters. On some occasions the excessive length of the texts breaks the action in the most excited moments which, due to the horror nature of the title, should leave the player breathless.

Lots of madness, but little fear - Review Moons of Madness

Due to this structure, the horror component is sacrificed. In fact, Moons of Madness scares very rarely, relegating the moments of tension to some jumpscare here and there. Also thanks to a first part in which it is difficult to understand what happens e something is lost in terms of emotional involvement.

The interaction with the monsters is rather meager, but gives a few moments with a more excited pace during the game. The only thing we could do is flee so as not to be caught. In fact, we will have no weapon with us and no other way to defend ourselves from threats. However, these are almost always scripted events, but there will be a stealth phase or two in which to hide.

The red desert that makes us dream - Review Moons of Madness

Not everything is to be thrown away though. Leaving the station to find yourself on the red lands of Mars is undeniably fascinating. As much as the environment of Mars is on plain paper, the developers did a great job of making us feel on a planet that isn't ours. The work done on the severity of the red planet, slightly lower than the terrestrial one, with all the consequences of the case.

Interspersed in the plot there are also numerous sections with environmental puzzles. These are never too complex puzzles, but the variety of the latter is excellent. You will rarely have to repeat the same puzzle twice throughout the game. We go from the most classic puzzles to some more original and well integrated into the setting. This is certainly the highest point of the whole production.

Lack of Optimization - Moons of Madness Review

But we come to what is the biggest problem of the game, at least on the basic PS4 (version tested in the review). The game runs at an average low frame rate, around 20 fps, which drop further in the most agitated phases and during uploads. This instability undermines the enjoyment of the title which is "jerky" even during simple walks. Probably the reason is due to one poor optimization of the tested version.

In fact, the visual quality does not justify the poor fluidity of the product. The graphic detail is good and can offer appreciable glimpses, but nothing the console can't handle with confidence. There is also a few too many low-definition textures that spoil the overall quality a bit. We hope a patch will fix this soon. Finally, on the audio front, the game performs well. Moons of Madness also features a English dubbing with Spanish subtitles.

Maybe next time

As you may have guessed from the review, we were dissatisfied with Moons of Madness. The regret is great given the idea full of potential to combine two of the archetypes most loved by the public. Unfortunately the game it lacks cohesion both in terms of narration and in the various stages of gameplay, thanks to a management of the game rhythms that are too discontinuous and a confused and never fully thorough story. In a market full of competitors like that of the horror genre, we find it hard to appreciate this title as it should be.

The feeling is that of a game that lacks optimization, as can also be seen from the really too low and unstable frame rate. Moons of Madness has potential, but it fails to fully exploit it in creating an original game that makes the player empathize with the events narrated. If you liked this review, stay on the techigames pages where you will also find all the news about the world of video games and more!

5 A wasted opportunity

Points in favor

  • Mars reproduced with care
  • Great variety of environmental puzzles

Points against

  • Frame rate instabile
  • Fluctuating game rhythms
  • Confused and in-depth history
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