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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Dredge was provided to us by Team17 and PressEngine. Thank you!
Fish, sell what you catch, upgrade your boat, and brave the depths of the evil waters in Dredge. This gorgeous game from Black Salt Games will take you off a mysterious archipelago to fish and make money to help the town. From there, you will meet a unique cast of characters in different regions, each having their own secrets to discover. Be careful though, danger lurks in the fog and you'll have to strengthen your boat, equipment, and mind to handle the horrors that lie within.
Dredge is one of my favorite games to play on the Steam Deck right now. I love the graphical style, the atmosphere is moody and unique, and the gameplay is simple and addicting. The gameplay loop has been streamlined so that while it's easy, it feels fantastic. I also personally adore inventory management in games, so this sticks out to me! It takes a little bit of time to sail out to certain locations, but it feels great taking in the serene, yet somewhat offputting surrounding area, with the semi-haunting soundtrack around you.
As you play, you will upgrade your ship in a multitude of ways. You can pay for fishing rod, engine, and net upgrades with money you get from selling fish, upgrade your hull and cargo space with shipwrecked materials you find around the ocean, research new parts, and read books for some passive improvements to your skills. You will travel from island to island, catching new fish in new areas and meeting tons of fantastically designed characters that each have something to say. Overall, this game is an incredible experience.
After playing the game more and more, I can safely say the assessments from our preview still remain the same! Dredge continues to run extremely well right out of the box, making it one of our Best on Deck games!
With no settings changed, it will run at 60 FPS with an average 10W battery drain with the highest drain I saw at 1 point being 11W. While we can make some adjustments to bring it down, it is not necessary in the slightest. There were also some slight stutters when traveling, but nothing that broke immersion so far. Due to this, I am happy to say that Dredge is a Best on Deck game so far!
Dredge also comes with some nice little accessibility features. While the game doesn't have any issues with text size, works perfectly with the Steam Deck gamepad, and supports 1280x800 resolution, it does have some nice options regarding popup duration, text speed, radial menu modes, and even changing the color for the important info that you find in-game! I found this to be a really nice touch, so I wanted to point it out.
I honestly don't have to write much about this game thanks to the preview version still being as accurate as the final. Dredge is an incredible game that feels more and more addicting the more I play. The fishing mechanics, inventory management, the characters and story, the upgrading, all of it just feels fantastic mixed with how well it performs and the accessibility features it offers. This is an amazing game and I can't recommend it enough personally!
Our review is based on the PC version of this game.
If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for news, tips and tutorials, game settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back