Lifeless Moon review for PC

Platform: PC
Publisher: Serenity Forge
Developer: Stage 2 Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: Not Rated

It’s been nearly nine years since Lifeless Planet came out, and I’ve got to be honest: I haven’t thought of it since I reviewed it back in 2015. So when I went back to re-read that review as I started writing about its sequel, Lifeless Moon – or its “spiritual successor,” if you go by what its developers are calling it – I was a little surprised to realize that pretty much everything I wrote about Lifeless Planet applies just as well to Lifeless Moon.

I’ll save you a click and tell you that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. On the positive side of the ledger, just like its predecessor, Lifeless Moon excels at creating a creepy, vaguely unsettling atmosphere. Just as the title promises, you’re wandering around a planet (or, I guess, a moon) where you see the vestiges of civilization and get a constant sense that you just missed someone or something. You spend most of your time in the game alone and isolated. If you’re after that feeling of loneliness and emptiness that the best sci-fi offers, you’ll find that here.

Unfortunately, also just like its predecessor, Lifeless Moon struggles to do anything interesting with its near-perfect setting. The game is only a few hours long, but you spend most of your time here slowly following a linear path, going from info-dump to info-dump with a few simple puzzles (or, at least, puzzle-like diversions) to break up the monotony. You pick up a note that tells you everything that happened to a certain point, then follow whatever directions the game gives you to the next note.

In other words, Lifeless Moon spends way too much time telling, and not nearly enough time showing. And on one level, I get it: a small indie studio isn’t going to have the budget to show how a civilization on the moon fell apart. But at the same time, when you’re this good at creating an atmosphere, it can’t help but feel a little disappointing when the rest of the game doesn’t quite measure up.

Serenity Forge provided us with a Lifeless Moon PC code for review purposes.

Score: 6