Luna The Shadow Dust – Review
In Luna The Shadow Dust, we solve point-and-click puzzles and explore a tower. Does it rise to the top? Here’s what we think.
You can tell the sort of game Luna The Shadow Dust is just by looking at its screenshots. The impeccable art design alternates between heartwarming amber and soothing blues. The two central characters are cute to look at—one is a cat-like creature, and the other has a bunny-ear hood. The environments are composed and decorated with a storybook cosiness. These are the sort of things you look forward to when you’re snuggled in just before bedtime, when you want to trace an escapist adventure under the glow of candlelight. Luna The Shadow Dust is designed to evoke exactly that, and that’s what it succeeds at effortlessly.
The story follows a young boy named Üri, who lands from a precipitous fall and then explores a mysterious tower that he has some connection to. Along the way, he encounters the chonky furball Layh, and the two work together to solve bespoke puzzles. Luna The Shadow Dust is a relaxing game, as I’ve suggested above. Despite a few puzzles that involve some speedy clicking, most of the game takes a leisurely approach. You’re in a puzzle room, usually with a few levers and buttons, and you’re free to mess around with the objects and figure out how to get to the next room. When you finish a room, the game plays a silent and satisfying animation showing your progress in the tower. It’s a small touch, but it helps to know you’re not just solving a collection of puzzle rooms.
As it’s a point-and-click game without an inventory system or dialogue, the solutions rely on your manipulating the fantastical world you’re in. Layh can blend into shadows, for example, and a cute wooden boat can help you fly around in a library. It’s a soft kind of magic that feels natural, even if it can sometimes be unintuitive. Most of the puzzles in Luna The Shadow Dust can be described as fine, made particularly likeable by the atmosphere and animation. Some puzzles are tedious, and they involve repeating a menial process over and over. The drawn-out animations and slow movement make these particularly draining on your patience. The most grating puzzles, however, involve trial-and-error combined with repeating tedious actions. Given that the game is short and you can reasonably finish it in one session lasting 2-3 hours, these puzzles feel like padding compared to other puzzles in the game, which are more respectful of your time.
Üri and Layh’s adventure is told in silence, without so much of a word displayed on-screen until the ending credits. Lantern Studio proves that art and animation is its strongest suit, not only in-game, but also in the cinematic cutscenes that illustrate a tale of relationships and sacrifice. I found the story enigmatic, and when I finished the game, I felt like I had understood just enough of a world that hints at much more. The oddest thing is that I don’t know if this was intentional or not.
Luna The Shadow Dust looks and sounds beautiful, and it’s a neat little adventure to have, so long as you can put up with some slow, trial-and-error puzzling.
Developer: Lantern Studio
Country of Origin: China
Publishers: Application Systems Heidelberg, Coconut Island Games
Release Date: 13th February 2020 (PC, Mac, Linux)
Thank you for reading this review of Luna: The Shadow Dust! For other interesting articles on Into Indie Games, check out the links below:
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WHAT DID Into Indie Games THINK?
THREE OUT OF FIVE STARS
Luna The Shadow Dust dials up the charm and keeps it up throughout, even when its puzzles falter.