Released MAR 30, 2023
|MSRP: $19.99||Category: Flashback-like (2D side scrolling action adventure)|
|Publisher: Wayforward||Developer: Canari Games|
|Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch||Also on: PS4 & 5, Xbox One & Series S/X, PC/Steam|
Join the revolution in this cinematic sci-fi platformer.
Set on a distant planet ruled by a totalitarian regime, LUNARK is a modern take on the 2D cinematic platformer genre of the ’90s.
As Leo, a courier with unique abilities and a mysterious past, you’ll run, jump, hang, climb, roll, and shoot through gorgeously animated pixel-art environments ranging from a dystopian megalopolis to eerie caves to an alien forest.
You must overcome traps, solve puzzles, earn upgrades, and battle enemy droids, and when you’re not fighting for survival, you’ll meet a cast of colorful characters who will put Leo’s allegiances to the test.
Uncover the dark origin of humanity’s new home and the truth about yourself in this epic sci-fi adventure!
Lunark began as a Kickstarter in 2018 and eventually grew to have over 2,800 supporters. Lunark is an homage to 90s adventure games, such as Flashback and Out of This World (but its controls and cut scenes seem MUCH more influenced by Flashback than any other game).
Lunark’s visuals harken back to the days of Flashback on the SNES and Sega Genesis, with 2D sprites and rotoscoped character animations (at least it appears that way in Lunark). While the character, enemies and environments are well designed and look nice, the graphics appear to be even more pixelated than Flashback was back in the day. This is especially evident if you play on a large screen TV. Playing in handheld mode on Switch looked much better in this regard, since it isn’t as obvious that everything is lacking an additional layer of detail it seems to need on the big screen.
Lunark’s audio is well developed and fits very well with the Flashback-esque environment. It doesn’t contain any outstanding music tracks that will stay with you long after it’s complete, but it’s certainly good enough to compliment the adventure.
Lunark’s gameplay, like much of the rest of the game, is heavily influenced by Flashback, although it does contain some more modern enhancements, like mapping jumping or firing to separate, dedicated buttons. The movements of your character and battles seem to play out much like Flashback, and that may be a good or bad thing depending on your opinion of the source material (you could argue it may stick a bit too close to the source material.)
You can watch some of my gameplay from Lunark below:
Finally, the most important part of any game is the fun factor, and Lunark is certainly a lot of retro-inspired fun, IF you can get past the archaic controls. While the control scheme is very clearly influenced by Flashback, you could argue it may stick a bit too close to its source material.
FINAL VERDICT AND SCORE
Lunark is a fun, modern take on the classic Flashback-formula with well designed pixel art that looks great in handheld mode, but looks a bit too blocky and simplistic in docked mode on a TV. Considering this game’s clear influence is Flashback, you might expect the characters to be a bit more detailed.
While the game does have some modern control enhancements, it still plays very similarly to how Flashback did, and honestly that’s not a great thing in 2023. It means the controls are largely counterintuitive and combat is clunky, which may cause you to rage quit more than once.
Lunark is an interesting spiritual successor to one of the greatest games of the 90s, and at $20 is certainly worth trying for anyone who used to love Flashback, or for retro enthusiasts. If you aren’t either of those things, however, you might find the gameplay style too difficult to justify purchasing it at full price, but you should consider picking it up on sale.
- Spiritual successor to one of the greatest games of the 90s
- Well designed and detailed pixel art graphics
- Pixel art looks a bit too blocky in docked mode on a TV and could have been detailed a bit more
- Control scheme is slightly enhanced from source material but not enough to feel intuitive in 2023