Imagine a world where the Earth’s resources are almost used up and climate change has wreaked havoc, causing an ever-growing desert around the planet’s equator. Then, imagine that a brilliant scientist has discovered an energy source on the moon and devised a way to refine it and beam power down to Earth. Now, imagine that after years of free energy, this priceless power source goes dark. For five years, the remnants of Earth’s space initiative have scrounged together the resources to send one person to the moon and find out what happened. Thus sets the stage for Deliver Us The Moon: Fortuna. The question is, does it… you know, deliver?
Deliver Us is a story-driven adventure game that most closely resembles walking simulators. The majority of the game is spent traversing each of the game's four areas, reading notes, listening to audio logs, carrying large batteries from one place to another, and correcting line-of-sight microwave power relays. There are also more tradition mechanics, such as quick-time-events and death.
Oddly enough, these “game” mechanics can feel out of place. It takes a good 30 to 45 minutes before the possibility of dying is even present. But it was further into the game I came across an environmental hazard that killed me. From what I’d seen and read, Deliver Us didn’t appear to be the kind of game where death was possible. While the ability to die in the game doesn't detract from the experience, it doesn't add to it either. What does detract from the game are the multiple quick-time-events. They are simple and straightforward but annoying as they require quick inputs in a game that is otherwise relaxing to play.
Additionally, there are also moments where you can venture out onto the surface of the moon. These are by far the best moments of the game; it’s a shame that there's really nothing to do or anywhere to go once you’re out there. Still, the feeling of running around and bounding across the moon is excellent. The feel of walking everywhere else feels stilted and off. And that’s how the vast majority of the game feels. Oddly enough, even though most of the game takes place on a space station or the moon, the same gravity on Earth is in effect when you’re inside structures. The game seems to equate air (i.e. being inside a building) with normal gravity and no air (i.e. being on the moon’s surface) with no low gravity.
Deliver Us features two different viewing modes, first-person and third-person, but you have no control over when you can utilize them. Generally, cramped spaces use a first-person view while open spaces use a third-person view. It’s unfortunate that most animations, specifically walking, aren’t all that great. I think the game’s experience would have been better serviced entirely through the first-person perspective.
Graphically, Deliver Us is a mixed bag. Artistically, it’s strong, using a realistic extrapolation of modern space-faring vehicles and equipment to convey a look that feels like it could actually exist in 30 years. The art style combined with good lighting makes for a game that looks great - in screenshots. Regrettably, Deliver Us is not optimized well. My computer more than meets the recommended specifications, yet I consistently saw frame rate drops into the teens while playing. And settings don’t matter. On the lowest graphical settings or the highest, the game stuttered in the same places to the same degree. Thankfully, Deliver Us is not an action game and these performance hitches don’t impact playability much, though they can affect the quick-time-events. More crucially, for a game where atmosphere and story are the main drives, having the game sputter often quickly takes you out of the experience.
Deliver Us was developed by the small independent studio KeokeN Interactive and was funded on Kickstarter in 2016. Like many games where "independent" and "Kickstarter" are applicable, you need to check your expectations. As I mentioned, many of the animations feel off while others, especially the ones used to pick up objects and press buttons in third-person, are really great. The graphics look splendid but performance is a major issue. But the biggest problem is the story. The framework is there; thematically, Deliver Us feels like a cross between 2017’s Tacoma and 2014’s movie Interstellar. The problem lies in the writing and the ending. Most of the documents and audio logs feel like they exist explicitly to explain characters, motives, and plot rather than being the kind of documents or audio logs someone might actually leave behind.
The problem with the ending boils down to the fact that there currently isn’t one. Where the game currently ends almost feels like the end of a demo, not a full game. KeokeN has announced that they will be releasing free downloadable content to continue to the story. While it’s good to know the developer is not just abandoning their unfinished work, it’s curious that they put the game out in this state with no indication in-game that there will be more to come in the future.
Deliver Us The Moon: Fortuna is an ambitious story-driven game from a small studio that tries to do more than most other games in the genre. It’s sad that this ambition is stifled by a lack of polish, poor writing, and a non-existent ending. Most, if not all, of these problems can, and possibly will, be fixed but as it stands, the game is hard to recommend. KeokeN may have shot for the stars but they did not deliver the moon.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.