As free-roaming environments go, you’re not going to get much more novel than the surface of a partially colonized moon. That’s exactly what Deliver Us the Moon promises, but unfortunately, the current preview build ends (via an unceremonious fade-out mid-gameplay) just as the opportunity presents itself. Prior to this, the demo showcases a rocket launch sequence, a trek through a space station, and the most basic possible use of its touted “modifiable power tool” – that of a glorified key. It’s a strange state to preview the game in, because it doesn’t display any of the things that might make the projected August release interesting, but at least it demonstrates that the project is functional, and that those 100,000€ of Kickstarter money haven't gone to waste.
The demo starts with the same voiceover from the Greenlight trailer mentioning an incredibly nonspecific global catastrophe and a lunar mission that can somehow correct it. This scene closes with the cryptic title phrase before dropping the player into the shoes of an astronaut as he uneventfully approaches the mission rocket. An abrupt transition later, the player is sitting in the cockpit with instructions and buttons shoved in their face. This segment needs to be either fleshed out or disposed of in the full release. The only reason the complicated launch processes in something like Elite: Dangerous are engaging is because they’re organic – there’s a tangible consequence for taking off without retracting your landing gear. Here, the instructions are a literal checklist that simply reverts to step one upon mistakes, and both the panels and the actions they trigger are completely interchangeable.
Some more corridor-wandering happens once the rocket arrives at the station, only with a deoxygenated section providing a time limit. The astronaut soon discovers the power tool, which can shoot locked doors with an electrical current to open them, in the most illogical emergency mechanism since Freddy Fazbear’s security system. This tool is used to release a floating robot companion, the All-Seeing Eye (ASE), who opens the way to a hangar, where the demo concludes. So basically, we have a walking simulator, which, to be fair, was never claimed to be anything else. The features promised by KeokeN Interactive – a jetpack, a lunar rover, the open-world moon exploration – have the potential to make it a novel addition to the genre, but none of them are playable yet.
As for the primary feature of walking simulators (other than, you know…the walking), Deliver Us the Moon has been remarkably coy regarding its story. The preview build offered no insights that couldn’t be gleaned from the title’s Greenlight and Kickstarter pages. There’s certainly a fair degree of intrigue established, but how it will play out is still up in the air. For what it’s worth, the game has at least been set up to deliver a decent narrative; the ever-impressive Unreal Engine has allowed for plenty of graphical detail fit to convey background information, and as restrictive as it is, the launch sequence is at least well-presented.
That’s the Deliver Us the Moon demo in a nutshell: it looks and feels perfectly good, but it has no substance. In a few months (which, incidentally, is when the first of the five planned episodes is set to drop), when additional content is more visible, the title may be worth a look. For now, it’s just another drop in the Greenlight ocean.