Video games are generally about exploring new areas for the purpose of moving forward and forging ahead towards some kind of prize. What’s rare is to have one (or two) in which all the character wants is to go home. The Lunar Pack is a pairing of two games by indie developer Boss Baddie; Wake and Lunnye Devitsy. Each title is a short-form 2D adventure about a tiny character who is trying to escape from his predicament. At a glance, both games look quite similar but in execution they couldn’t be more different. Not only that, but each game manages to tell a neat little story and distinct gameplay experience with a very rudimentary set of tools.
You know that bit at the end of the Tanker section in Metal Gear Solid 2 where Snake has to escape from the sinking ship? Imagine that part being playable, but as a 2D game that looks like Limbo. You are an engineer stuck down in the engine room as water begins to flow in as a result of a meteor shower on the open sea, and your only objective is to get the hell out of there. As far as mechanics go, Wake is primarily a platformer but it has puzzle elements as well. Keys and other items are hidden throughout the ship which can help you get through locked doors and open your path.
The visual style of Wake is colorful but blurry, and intentionally so. Not only does it beautifully capture the claustrophobia and stress of trying to escape from an unstoppable situation, but it adds to it on a visual level as well. Taking wrong turns that lead you farther from topside (which is sometimes a necessary path) causes the screen to darken to the point that you almost can’t make out what is happening.
You are constantly in a position to make split-second decisions about the best route to take. Sometimes it results in suicide runs through flaming geysers in the engine room, diving into the ever-rising water, and getting through a doorway. Other times it means waiting for a room to flood and swimming up through a vent in hopes it will lead to a higher level. Sometimes it works out, and others it dooms you to a cold, lonely death at the bottom of the sea.
All in all, it takes about 20 minutes to escape from the ship; give or take depending on which exit you are trying for. This is not a long game by any stretch, but it does have some replayability for those wishing to try alternate paths. The almost certain failure from experimenting new routes never feels like that much of a problem thanks to Wake‘s brevity. From beginning to end, it manages to maintain an excellent balance between risk and reward and captures the immediate thrill and lure of the best classic arcade games.
Visually, Lunnye Devitsy bears more than a passing resemblance to Wake. It has the same kind of soft-focus art style that is deceptive in its elegant simplicity. Another similarity is in how it offers a number of possible ‘exits’ for the player which lends itself to multiple playthroughs. In pretty much every other way however, this game is markedly different. In Lunnye Devitsy you play as a tiny alien who has fallen to Earth from the Moon and must find a way home. As you explore the game world, you make your way through caves, lakes, and lava pits to open paths and find materials that can help. You know, most people haven’t actually played it but this is pretty much the exact story setup of E.T. on the Atari 2600. Thankfully, the gameplay part of things is completely different.
Once again, this game is essentially a platformer but without the time limit of Wake. There is no map in Lunnye Devitsy which can be a little daunting at first, but once you realize there’s no rush, the experience of playing it becomes relaxing and soothing. Thank goodness you have lots of time as well, because it makes some of the platforming sections a little bit less frustrating. The jumping is not terrible overall, but it can be oversensitive at times leading to repeatedly falling off platforms and having to try again (and again). Having played through this game a few times, I still haven’t been able to discover all the routes back to the Moon. Some involve a relatively direct path while others require construction of devices in order to get home. Even moreso than Wake, Lunnye Devitsy offers a lot of replayability if you want to find all the ways back to the Moon.
I think it was a good idea for Boss Baddie to release both of these games together in the Lunar Pack, as each one on its own feels a little too slight as a standalone release. These titles are well-placed alongside each other in this package because they are similar enough that one would want to try them both, but different enough that one would have a reason. All in all, the Lunar Pack can be picked up on Steam for $5. Just one playthrough of each game would give you your money’s worth, and I can all but guarantee you’ll want to play it far more than that.
[+Beautiful art style] [+Multiple paths for replayability] [+Two games for $5] [+Games compliment each other nicely] [-Floaty platforming]