A beautiful VR children's story that's hampered by very easy puzzles.
Virtual reality (VR) isn’t just a new way of playing videogames it’s a new form of technology that can encompass all forms of entertainment. As such, developers are continually experimenting with what content works and doesn’t work in an immersive environment, which can lead to confusion over what’s classed as a videogame or merely an interactive experience. The difference – which can be minimal – is important, especially when it comes to Funomena’s latest project Luna.
Luna is a fairy tale style story about a young bird who is enticed to eat the last piece of the waning Moon by mysterious Owl. To bring the moon back you need to solve celestial puzzles to unlock each level’s tree, plant and animal spirits, and then seed various plants within terrariums to bring life back to the moonless world.
The reason for differentiating between a videogame and a more interactive story is due to the way Luna is laid out and the content its offers. Right from the start there’s no user interface UI or any real options to speak of, as you’re thrown into the world without a hint of what to do. As the story unfolds through animation and music the basic principles of Luna become clearer, offering two stage levels that consist of unlocking star based puzzles which then move onto the terrariums. In these habitats you then have four plants with which to mix and match in this miniature world. Getting the right combination then completes the level.
It’s the celestial puzzles that really offer the most gameplay, you have to move stars into certain positions to form a dot-to-dot shape that becomes a plant to use in the second section. While the amount of stars increase as the levels progress the actual difficulty is fairly negligible – it really shouldn’t take much more than a minute to complete the higher level ones.
So in terms of interactivity that’s pretty much it. You can pet the song bird which it reacts to, making it warble a tune but there’s not a great deal else, so the entire experience will probably take just over an hour to fully see.
Here’s the thing, as a videogame there’s just not enough to recommend over all the other content releases as it is a once play through kind of title. Look at it as a children’s story book that you can interact with and Luna takes on a whole other meaning. The artwork is gorgeous, a bright, detailed, hand drawn style that really makes the title standout from a lot of other VR content, perfectly intertwined with a musical score that’s light, refreshing and filled with depth. This really is something that’s aimed at a younger audience as they’ll certainly be enthralled by what Funomena has created.
Luna isn’t the sort of title that’s going to draw VR players away from their first-person shooters (FPS) or RPG’s, looking for the next amazing VR experience. It’s the type of title that’ll suit those who liked Gnomes & Goblins for example, an unusual marriage of interactivity and storytelling. Or perfect for those who’ve got kids old enough to try VR and want to see what it’s all about.