(PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox) Modern video game creators love space, especially abandoned space stations. Take TACOMA (which I recently wrote about). If you want a deeper dive? Sierra’s adventure game SPACE QUEST, which has five-and-counting sequels. SYSTEM SHOCK of course. PREY, the one specifically developed by Arkane (because I never played the predecessor).
Why is that? I think part of the reason is that you can get away with more rigid geometry with space games — organic matters require more complexity — and space outposts and vehicles are very specifically angular. Also, you rarely have to render other humanoids. Overall, the development experience for such games can be perceived as less-taxing in financial and technical ways.
That said: I’m not complaining. I love a good haunted space station tale or game. It’s perfect for feeling isolated but also slightly in touch with humanity, as well as imbuing the awe of the cosmos on you. Consequently, I was surprised to see that — via my PS+ Extra plan — I could play the Dutch game DELIVER US THE MOON.
I’ll admit, I partially wanted to play it because that is one amazing title. It unconventionally tells you everything without telling you anything.
DELIVER US THE MOON is a high-concept sci-fi justified rant against the short-sightedness of our use of Earth’s resources. In the near future, all energy resources have been depleted, but they discover a new one on the Moon, Helium-3, which they can then beam down to Earth.
Of course, it took them a good decade to build the tallest man-made structure ever, but they did and, for a while, all was good. Then it all goes terribly wrong and the Helium-3 station goes dark, effectively causing the same to happen on Earth.
After a number of years, a shuttle is cobbled together so they can send a scientist up to investigate and get the station back up and running. Matters escalate.
While DELIVER US THE MOON might look like an exploration simulator or — to use what far too many consider a pejorative — a walking simulator, it’s far more like a less-intense PORTAL. A lot of puzzles — sadly, many of them feel rather familiar to me — and even a few first-person platforming bits. They also mix in some timed action events, which are not my favorite things, as well as moment that evokes Alfonso Caruso’s GRAVITY.
I’ll note that TACOMA was released after DELIVER US THE MOON, but it’s hard to ignore the similarities: both feature an abandoned space station, both are hardly action-centric, both are first-person, and both tell their narrative mostly through found spectral, abstract holographic records. In my opinion, TACOMA pulls it off better; it has puzzles, but no platforming, no time-limited scenarios, no quick-time events, and the holographic storytelling is far more interactive and inventive. (See my write-up for more.)
Yes, both games set out to do different things, but they dovetail quite well together. If you like one, you’ll probably enjoy the other and vice versa. Either way, if you are a sucker for slightly-creepy jaunts in the isolation of space, it’s worth your time, although you might find one more frustrating than the other.