How do I introduce something like The Sun at Night? The story of Laika, a Russian cosmonaut who just happens to also be a gun-toting talking dog…this game isn’t quite like anything else I’ve picked up. The story begins when Laika’s pod crash-lands in the wilderness somewhere, and must fight for survival. Before long, though, our hero is found by a group of rebels living in a large tent-camp. They nurse the injured Laika back to health and befriend her, which quickly leads to the laser-wielding pooch to a dangerous operation against Soviet forces. And their robots, of course.
The gameplay is mostly fluid and intuitive. I played with a gamepad, using the left stick for movement and the right to control my weapons’ full 360-degree aiming. Laika picks up a recharging, ammo-less weapon shortly after her crash, and more weapons can be found as you progress. The difficulty is, at times, up there, but for the most part it comes down to quick reflexes to fire, raise shields, and dodge enemy fire. Enemies come at you pretty quickly in some spots, so being sharp with targeting while moving is key. Minicore Studios even throws in some challenging, and pretty interesting, boss battles to spice up the action every now and again, offering up even more of the game’s signature bizarre feel and setting.
The story, such as it is, is a bit muddled at the onset, but it’s otherwise fun to follow, and the opening acts of The Sun at Night have Laika running errands around the rebel camp to get players accustomed to the various parts of the game, from weaponry and strategy to a tutorial on purchasing upgrades and hacking consoles. All of these skills end up being used pretty regularly as you go, so it’s nice that there’s a crash course to kick things off. I think it’s even nicer that, for the most part, a lot of that can be skipped if you’re not concerned with it or have done it before. Upgrades can be applied in three areas: Defense, Offense, and Utility, offering a range of abilities and boosts, such as the first acquisition, a double jump that becomes necessary for navigating the Soviet base, and beyond.
All in all, The Sun at Night is a strange, enjoyable little game that has quite a bit to offer despite some shortfalls in control precision and lackluster graphic design. It’s not as if either of these is particularly bad, but I do feel they’re a couple of areas that could stand to see improvement. The sound design isn’t much to speak of, but the background music is decent and appropriate. Minicore Studios is asking $14.99 for the title on Steam ($12.74 via sale as I write this), which is a reasonable price for a fun, quirky game that’s got a singular feel and several interesting and unique elements. I wasn’t blown away, but I did have fun playing, and that’s what really matters.
[+Fun, interesting setting] [+Good action with decent backing storyline] [+Plenty of content and customization] [-Weak controls] [-Some uninspired aesthetic]