Moons of Madness
Rock Pocket Games / Funcom
Science fiction has always been a natural fit for horror because the settings are usually within the isolation of cold space. There are countless movies and video games that feature this coupling, but for some odd reason, most of them don’t quite get it right.
Whether that’s due to poor writing, terrible acting, or just a general lack of polish needed to immerse people in their fabricated worlds, there’s a lot of fizzles out there. Video games, in particular, have to really be on point since they are like interactive movies in a way, so their immersion factor must be high to draw gamers in.
Rock Pocket Games seems to know about this last factor. Their new science fiction horror hybrid, Moons of Madness, definitely has the unsettling, isolated setting down. You begin as the main character who suddenly wakes up in his dark cabin. From there, you discover that you’re situated in a Martian colony complex. Where is everybody? What are those strange noises in the background? Right away, Moons of Madness gives you the sense that you’re cut off from the rest of humanity and that no one’s coming to rescue you.
Funcom, known for its excellent Secret World shared-words games, has always incorporated many mythoi into their series. That includes cosmic horror elements from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, which is not only hinted at in this game’s title, but also within some of its storyline and content.
There are a myriad of enemies to fend off in Moons of Madness, everything from evil robots to grotesque, mutated plant monsters. And you’ll quickly discover that this game is much more of the “run away and hide” type of affair, as opposed to a “shoot ‘em up” such as the Resident Evil games. Yes, you will encounter other crewmates from time to time, but these temporary quanta of solace will be ripped away from you just when you start to feel a little safer.
Gameplay-wise, you’ll spend most of your time trying to figure out the many puzzles contained within the game. For the most part, they’re pretty straight forward although a few of them did seem a little too far-fetched to be believable, even for a fabricated Martian setting.
Moons of Madness is structured in chapters and even though you can roam around a little here and there, it’s pretty much a linear experience. Fortunately, the game’s environments are so gloomy and interesting to behold that I didn’t mind it being a “stuck-on-the-tracks”-type game. Each chapter ends with solving you averting one type of catastrophe or another, so its pacing is pretty good and you actually feel like you’re accomplishing worthwhile objectives.
One thing that will make or break a game is its writing. Moons of Madness features some great writing, which saves it from becoming too much of a boring puzzle-solving simulator. Just when I’d thought I figured out a major part of the plotline, the game would throw a major curveball at me. Predictable is one thing this game is not.
I completed the Moons of Madness in about ten hours. But I’m pretty much a wimp when it comes to these types of games and like to back away from the computer for breaks when I feel something horrifying is about to happen (this also gives my body the chance to lower my blood pressure). Therefore, I can see a more steely-nerved gamer completing it in about seven or eight hours.
Moons of Madness is a great science fiction-horror mash-up that I definitely think is worth the price of admission. It’s got a creepy atmosphere, some serious scares, great graphics and music, and very strong writing. Although I wouldn’t see myself playing it more than one time because of its linear nature, one play-through is enough to frighten all but the most jaded of horror junkies out there.
Moons of Madness has some pretty nice looking graphics that make its horror-based gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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