Lifeless Moon

Posted:  Aug 10, 2023
SDHQ BUILD SCORE: 

Review

Lifeless Moon was provided by Serenity Forge for review. Thank you!

As a spiritual successor to Lifeless Planet, I was expecting Lifeless Moon to take the lessons learned from the first game and improve upon the previous game. In some areas, it does just that, but in some, it decides to stick a bit close to the original for better or worse. Both of which are 3D platformers where you will walk through levels, solve puzzles, and experience the story, but there are some flaws here.

When it comes to the good, I liked the visuals and atmosphere the game projects. The surroundings can range from multiple different landscapes like a barren wasteland with whale bones sticking out to a vibrant forest, but all of which had a certain charm to it. The atmosphere was complemented by both the scenery and the music. I enjoyed walking around each of these locations and just looking for secrets, hard-to-find photos, and more.

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The story itself is fantastic. I really like the overarching story and I am a sucker for sci-fi-esque settings, but throughout the game, there were moments I confused at what exactly was happening. Even after reading the documents I picked up, it took me time to really understand why I had just teleported to a new location and what was going on, but once I did, it was very worthwhile. It does take a little time to really get into it, but it will be worth the time. There are also some puzzles that made a lot of sense, while others were just near impossible to figure out without trying everything (finding the school keys and turning the underground generator on took me a bit to figure out).

But the biggest knocks against the game are the walking and the controls. Just like in the previous game, there is a lot of walking and you walk slow. There are some parts where it can slightly speed up, but it doesn't change the fact that there is still a lot of slow moving. Coupled with that are the controls, which could have been implemented better. Trying to jump from platform to platform was hard at times and sometimes climbing up a ladder catapulted me away from the ground and I fell into the abyss, needing to start over and slowly climb up the ladder again.

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There is an interesting tale set in beautiful worlds here, but the control issues and slow pacing made it quite hard to play. I love the sci-fi elements of the story and the big picture, but getting from point A to point B took such a long time and felt really slow at times. Unfortunately, it doesn't help that performance on the Steam Deck could be very erratic.

Lifeless Moon - Steam Deck Performance

When getting into Lifeless Moon for the first time, I was expecting performance to not be an issue. There are games that have looked better that can run extremely well on the Steam Deck, but that wasn't exactly the case here. For whatever reason, the game is extremely demanding. Not only is framerate quite inconsistent, but it can't stay fully stable regardless of the framerate cap. It also ends up draining a lot, I found areas at all visual quality settings that could drain the Deck at 22W, even with a 30 FPS cap.

There are also some cutscenes that don't play correctly, so you will need Proton GE to get them running. I used Proton GE 8-11 and forced compatibility with it, but any newer version of the compatibility layer should work fine.

I didn't see much performance difference between the lowest quality vs highest quality (Ultra), but there were some pretty big visual differences with shadows, so I decided to keep the game on Ultra.

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And since there were drops and battery spikes regardless of cap, I decided to go with 30 FPS so the drops didn't affect as much. This also means that camera speed is a bit slower compared to when it is 60, so make sure to turn the camera speed up as much as you can. It won't be enough, but I would rather take a smoother experience over a slow camera. Lifeless Moon hovers around 11W - 15W for the most part, but there were some random 21W - 22W jumps and a couple spots that saw framerate drop to 28 FPS.

The game can be played all the way through and it is bearable, but it could do with a lot of optimization to stabilize it. It does support 16:10 resolutions, so no black bars, and it does have full controller support. There are no cloud saves, but with how short the game is, I don't think there is a need to go between devices.

Conclusion

There is a solid game here in Lifeless Moon, and while it improves in some aspects over the last game, it takes some of the other problems too. The story is interesting and the world/atmosphere is great, but there is a lot of slow walking around and control issues, as well as some puzzles being a bit too hard to figure out without just roaming around and trying everything. Playing on the Steam Deck is a bit hard to do as well due to the fluctuations in framerate and some battery spikes. If you enjoyed Lifeless Planet, you will like this game, but if you didn't, the experience might frustrate in a lot of ways.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Lifeless Moon is a 3D platformer that takes good and bad from its predecessor, including some performance issues on the Steam Deck.

Performance: 
VISUALS: 
Stability: 
Controls: 
Battery: 
Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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$19.99
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