In 2016, I had the wonderful opportunity to play a large variety of games, from platformers to shooters. However, few were as poignant and profound as Lifeless Planet, developed by Stage 2 Studios and published by Serenity Forge.
The space exploration and platforming game was a solid adventure, wrapped into an incredibly engaging and intriguing story. Its unique depiction of a space mission gone unexpectedly wrong went well beyond the expected conventions and became something fresh and surprising, something that is rarely seen.
However, I was pleasantly surprised at PAX WEST, as I saw that, not only was another game in development but was ready to be demoed at the convention. The newest installment is called Lifeless Moon.
Lifeless Moon is a continuing installment of Lifeless Planet that acts as a sort of prequel. Before the colonization mission that took place in the first game, there were a series of smaller missions in the Apollo-Era that took place in secret. The astronauts traveled to nearby moons, close enough to be reached but far enough to begin important research into interstellar space travel. Players will take the role of a female astronaut, who still hasn’t had her name revealed yet. She has traveled to a distant moon, filled with strange alien structures and energies.
Lifeless Moon will be playable in both VR and non-VR, making it very accessible for players. For my demo, I played in VR with an Oculus Rift headset. The first thing that struck me was the incredibly unknown visuals, which truly felt like I was on an alien moon far away from Earth. For those that have seen Ridley Scott sci-fi movies, namely Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, or seen The Martian, the overall look felt like those films. The demo had me begin inside of a dark cave, filled with massive rock structures and a haunting mystery to the scenery. Within the cavern, there is a glowing green energy that seems to be leading towards the end of the cave itself.
Using the VR headset, I was able to act as a large, over-the-shoulder camera, viewing the entire environment, but also the character I was playing as. In a way, this actually helped in my navigation of the cave, as I was able to see small details and properly navigate my character. I had to activate a switch, for example, and the VR headset was able to have me look around for odd devices in the environment. ALl the while, the astronaut is keeping a log of her observances, commenting on what she is observing and what she is doing as she has lost contact with mission control.
As an exploration and platformer game, players had to view their environment and see how to get to certain places. Lifeless Moon didn’t have an arrow pointing in a direction or clearly-colored platforms, which enhanced the sense of discovery and immersion into the mystery. I proceed throughout the cave, jumping from rocks and avoid fissures. Eventually, the end of the cave was in sight, but I came across a small puzzle. The green energy was surging in this area, and it focused around a strange alien control console. As I walked to the console, the game switched to the first person. With a circular key in my hands, I maneuvered the key to activate a series of stairs, materializing the energy into something physical. I climbed the stairs and exited the cave.
The final scene of the demo had me bear witness to something completely unexpected on this moon: A Lakeside cabin. Using the VR headset, I scoped the entire environment, bearing witness to a pristine lake and human-made cabin. in the distance, was a mountainous peak with a massive circular structure, set against the background of an endless field of stars, as well an aura of green energy. With that, the demo faded to black.
Lifeless Moon is shaping to be every bit the sci-fi adventure experience that fans of the first game have been hoping for. It’s mystery, intrigue, sharp visuals, and attention to immersion are making this a stand-out exploration mission that players will want to embark on. Lifeless Moon arrives on PlayStation 4, XBox One, and PC next year.