Lunar Lander Beyond review for PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Dreams Uncorporated
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Back in 1979, Atari released an arcade game called Lunar Lander, a experience where you pilot a spaceship, land on different planets, and avoid obstacles in your way. It used eye-catching vector style graphics similar to the ones found in games like Asteroids and Major Havoc, and seemingly did well for arcade games of that era.  With a number of retro-inspired “Recharged” releases, Atari has been on a tear lately as they reimagine many of their classics, and have done it again with their latest release Lunar Lander Beyond.

In Lunar Lander Beyond, players take the role of a newly appointed spaceship captain working for the Pegasus Corporation, a pickup and deliveries sort of business that hinges on unstable.  You’ll be sent on a wide variety of missions included deliveries, retrievals and even rescuing stranded civilians and other workers. On some occasions you may be asked to defend a base that is being attacked by aliens or bombarded by asteroids. Piloting your Lunar Lander takes tremendous skill, as you must use all of your precision to make it through small caves, avoid tall mountains and buildings and make perfect landings.

As with the original, everything is based on momentum, so the more you fire your thrusters, the faster you move and the harder your ship is to control. You need to move carefully but at the same time as swiftly as possible to get the maximum amount of payments being offered. It sounds relatively easy, but trust me it will slowly drive you insane (literally, more on this later). As you progress through your available missions, you will be able to pick up more crew members who might offer help and advice with tasks, and maybe upgrade your ship with new abilities that will help you later on.

Throughout the campaign, you will pick up more captains and different landers with unique upgrades that have to be used to complete missions. All of the captains in your squad can, and will, become fatigued and begin to lose their sanity as they progress, making even a simple land and pickup mission more difficult. You can actually crash and take damage from a monster that isn’t in your way normally if your insanity is too high. You’ll have to pick the right captain for the right job, while also treating other captains for insanity and fatigue often. While it may seem like a daunting task to keep track of all of this, you can quickly get the hang of everything, although you may fail a mission or two along the way.

The controls in Lunar Lander Beyond will take players a little time to master. Everything is extremely twitchy with your lander, which is by design. As I stated before, it will take precise movements and calculated decisions to make it through most levels. The hardest is when you are expected to move quickly in a narrow space, such as a race with a barge or being the only line of defense for a base that’s being attacked. Sometimes missions seem impossible, but you will eventually get through it if you use the right captain, power-ups and landers available to you. Trust me when I say with these controls, you will fail, many, many times over, but that is what makes this game extremely challenging and fun. The visuals and audio are also top notch with beautifully drawn, and sometimes hilarious, cutscenes moving the campaign forward. The overall presentation really makes you want to try again and again even after hopelessly failing many times. You’ll get frustrated, but you’ll also be having fun.

Lunar Lander Beyond is definitely beyond what it’s predecessor brought. Everything has been turned up and upside down with this reimagining. The insanity aspect and the ability to get new ships and upgrades is really cool, while the overall story is fun and lighthearted at times while being scary and intriguing at others. Its one of those games where you want to constantly do better and want to beat that tough mission you failed at 30 times. You just want to hop back in and keep trying, and it really makes for a good time. I can recommend this one for anyone looking for a unique challenge that will keep you busy for a long while, and for those that like reimagining of classic games. Another solid release for Atari!

Note: Atari provided us with a Lunar Lander Beyond PS5 code for review purposes.

Score: 9