Stylish 2D physics-based platformers are nothing new. However, the unique and simplistic gameplay of The Sun and Moon gets straight to the core of what makes them enjoyable so read on and see if it's worth jumping around for.
Playing The Sun and Moon is difficult to explain. Basically, you run and jump while avoiding hazards and collecting enough objects to unlock each level's goal. Where it gets complex is in its phase-shifting mechanic. Pressing a button allows you to enter otherwise solid surfaces. Forces like gravity, buoyancy, and inertia dictate how far you'll travel through which means that you have to be careful not to fall through the other side (except when you want to, of course). Knowing when to hold the phase button and when to let go is key to success. If you want to test your skills then attempting to beat the goal times on every level is an awesome way to do so. Honestly, I could only beat these for a handful of levels because they're very difficult to achieve. Either way you look at it, if the simple yet addictive gameplay isn't difficult enough, the ability to challenge yourself will be a welcome inclusion.
At first, The Sun and Moon seems like a very stylish game but after playing for a short while, you'll likely get bored of the camo print backgrounds and generic foregrounds. I don't know how N++ managed to stay exciting throughout yet this ends up feeling repetitive. The music also suffers from mediocrity with simple synthesized rhythms that loop and aren't catchy or atmospheric in the slightest. On the other hand, the sound effects are quite charming. Overall, The Sun and Moon looks and sounds pretty boring which contrasts with its enjoyable gameplay. If there was more visual variety and fitting music then it would be a lot more fun to play.
The Sun and Moon only contains one mode. You basically play through a huge map of levels while unlocking further areas the more you play. Each area has its own colour scheme and some unique elements such as fireballs and disappearing blocks. The most impressive part of the campaign is how massive it is. You'll play through dozens and dozens of levels and still uncover more. It'll take you hours to play through and many more if you're looking to beat all of the par times. One of the best features of the campaign is the non-linearity of it which ensures that you'll never get stuck. Whenever you find a level to be too challenging, you can simply move on to another one or travel to a different area altogether. It's a very well implemented dynamic that'll keep you hooked.
Besides its underwhelming presentation, The Sun and Moon's lack of content is a huge disappointment. Sure, the campaign is lengthy but with no other ways to play, it's easy to get bored of it. I would have loved to be able to play multiplayer matches, mini-games, various challenges, or even an endless mode. Considering the developer clearly has a solid gameplay premise here, it's definitely a missed opportunity to not provide a diverse selection of modes. Also, for a game that consists primarily of challenging yourself, you'd think that there would be leaderboards so you can rank yourself against other players but there are none to be found. On the map, I noticed that it totals your time whenever you complete an area and I can imagine that if there were leaderboards, I'd probably play through again to prove my skills to the world. Because none of these features are present, replay value is severely limited.
The Sun and Moon is an enjoyable and challenging 2D platformer but its shortcomings make it difficult to widely recommend. That being said, if you love these kinds of games and don't expect anything more than a bare-bones adventure, you may be pleasantly surprised.
- + Unique and simple 2D physics-based gameplay that's rather addictive
- + Tons of levels to master
- + Non-linear map is fun to explore
- - Generic visuals and music get stale after playing for just a short while
- - Lack of content with only one mode available
- - Leaderboards would have added replay value