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  • Writer's pictureOle Gamer Joe

LunarLux Review - A Science Fiction RPG Worth Playing in 2023!


LunarLux Review by Ole Gamer Joe

Release Date - 9/25/23

Developed by CosmicNobab Games and published by Freedom Games


If it wasn't obvious, LunarLux is deeply rooted in science fiction. Players will control Bella, a bubbly, pink-haired anime girl who carries a deep love for her deceased mother. Bella is determined to live up to her mom's proud legacy by attempting to defend Luna from a deadly comet that threatens humanity. She also needs to battle against Murks, wretched monsters that stand in her path. Luna is not alone in her quest, as she has the help of many allies of the moon, most notably, a companion robot named Tetra. Tetra and Bella have the strongest connection throughout this narrative, with some great dilaogue segments occuring between them. While there are other supporting characters throughout, none of these relationships are quite as poignant.


There are two important facts you need to know that will whether you will enjoy LunarLux. First, there is a lot of dialogue. Like, A LOT! So much in fact, that at times I was begging to get back to the combat, which is honestly quite entertaining, but more on that soon. Secondly, get ready to interact with just about EVERYTHING! Almost anything you come across throughout your travels can be triggered using the action button, almost to the point of driving me mad. Your tolerance for this will vary depending on what type of player you are. I'm not sure I needed to have long scripts of text for a little bowl of ramen, a trash can or a table, but hey that's just me.


ship and overworld
Traversal is done via your ship which can be customized

The game is broken up into chapters and the pacing can feel a bit off at times. Players will sift through tons and tons of story segments, some of which are interesting and pack a bit of an emotional punch, with other moments feeling like an eternity. Scenes play out something like this: Talk to so and so for what feels like forever, learn your next mission, wander the town a bit and purchase items, pick up a few side quests, and eventually find yourself in some creative, turn-based battles. That's simplifying things a bit, but I just want to give you a basic feel for the core gameplay loop.


So now that you understand you'll be dealing with tons of conversations (some of which go on way too long) and an insane amount of bumping into every little object, let's talk about my favorite feature of LunarLux-- the combat. To my shock, this is one of my favorite combat engines in an RPG in recent memory. Bella and Tetra work together in battles, using a variety of active skills and support skills. Each active skill will cost you a bit of SP, so management is essential if you hope to survive. The skills do vary a bit from one another such as your standard attack allowing for a second strike should you press the correct onscreen prompt, or even attacks that will grow stronger if used consecutively. Support skills grant such perks as temporary invincibility for a turn or add additional damage to your attacks. As you progress and gain experience, you'll level up your skills, and learn more along the way. There are 40 active skills in total, along with 30 support skills.


Adding to the engaging combat is a semi-free movement grid system. Some enemy attacks can be manually dodged, others will throw you into a minigame that might elicit memories of playing Undertale. This system really keeps you on your toes, but more importantly is strategic and satisfying. I loved having to balance whether I would have enough shield or SP, and then having to weave my way through a hellacious spell. I'm probably not explaining this perfectly, but trust me, it's awesome. The downside is that battles can go on for a very long time. This wasn't so much a problem for me as I welcomed a break from the sometimes heavy-handed and clumsy story. Your reward for leveling up? You'll gain 10 more HP to your total, and active skills will also become more powerful. There's more to be discovered in this combat system including some very powerful Lux combos, but listening to me go on about every system isn't going to be nearly as enjoyable as discovering all of the small intricacies for yourself. Trust me when I say, it's a blast. In total there are 5 different enemy attacks which you could say play out a bit like minigames of their own and I loved them. Yes, things took a bit to get used to, but ultimately once I really nailed down a foe's pattern, I started to feel untouchable. In fact, this game can be completed without leveling up a single time if you have the skills!


little robot on a grid
LunarLux has a variety of minigames to help keep things fresh

I know I was a bit harsh on the fact that LunarLux has so much dialogue, but you can't say the developers aren't proud of it. Interactions with NPCs will raise your affinity for a given location, adding a touch of incentive for interacting with any and everyone. Boost your reputation enough and you just might score some sweet discounts at shops around towns. You'll also eventually unlock jet suits that you can change into. Yes, this game has a pretty unique way of getting around as you can quite literally fly about freely if you wish, or if a particular story segment allows. You do also have a ship for traveling across the moon, which you could almost think of as the game's world map, minus the insane random encounters every few moments.


LunarLux does not have a robust navigation system, however getting around isn't too much trouble, with important events being labeled by a yellow exclamation mark. There are also different colored markers for the various events and side quests. Luckily, each new area isn't all that massive, so you won't get lost too often. The game also features a decent quest log and Tetra can remind you of your next objective. Heck, there are even spaceship parts to be gathered, which allows for some customizable options to your ship.


As far as visuals are concerned, the pixel art is serviceable. LunarLux has some really nice portraits, decent environments to explore and some solid enemy design. It's not a mind blowing looking indie release, but the art gets the job done, and you'll appreciate it if you typically enjoy the anime style. Menus are all fairly easy to navigate, and so overall it's a fairly nice-looking title, though offers nothing particularly new or exciting in terms of design.


girl flying through space
The story is not perfect with plenty of pacing issues

The soundtrack on the other hand is very impressive. A mix of moody synths and electronic pulsing drums, this is an excellent set of compositions that had me bopping right along with them. The soundtrack is very effective in creating different moods, even when the script can miss the mark. If you aren't a fan of classic chiptune soundtracks then LunarLux certainly won't change your mind, but for me this is one I am dying to add to my collection and would have no problem listening to outside of the game.


All told, I enjoyed LunarLux. I think the plot could have been tightened up a bit, and, yeah, it gets a bit carried away with the absurdity of being able to interact with EVERYTHING, but the rewarding combat is just too damn good to pass up. If you were a fan of the Mega Man Battle Network games or loved the fighting in Undertale, LunarLux has much to offer you. I think Bella is a really neat character with some compelling attributes, but she is ultimately caught up in a script that gets a bit bigger and more convoluted than it needed to be. Still, LunarLux has a big heart and big ambitions. Well recommended.


PROS

+ Solid pixel art

+ Fantastic soundtrack

+ Fun and engaging combat


CONS

- Plot can be a bit messy

- Too much interacting

- Pacing issues


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