LUNA The Shadow Dust is a new point-and-click adventure title from developer Lantern Studio. You must venture into an ancient tower to trace back your memories and keep moving forward until you reach the very top of the strange and mysterious structure. Along the way, you’ll encounter a precious companion, intricate puzzles, and a uniquely enchanting world.
OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Told mainly through beautiful, hand-animated cinematic scenes, LUNA The Shadow Dust tells an intriguing tale about a young boy and his companion as they travel through a strange tower. However, the developers have taken an interesting approach to telling this narrative – there is no dialogue. There are no spoken words or readable text to be found throughout the game at all, actually. Names and details can only be found within the store page descriptions and Steam achievements, not within the game itself.
While certainly risky, this approach does pay off – to an extent. The lack of dialogue adds to the mystery of the story, allowing you to fill in the blanks and come up with your own conclusions about the characters and their lives. The lack of certainty leaves you wanting to know more about the tower and the things that dwell within it. Without any dialogue, there are no blocks of text or expositional dumps to hinder the pace you can play at either.
That said, with a lack of text comes a lack of concrete clarity as well. The developers were nice enough to send a copy of the art book along with the game. While I did find the cinematics to be beautiful and the story unique and interesting, I did not pick up on all of the story elements that they mentioned wanting to portray within the art book. Though this out-of-the-box approach to storytelling should be applauded, it does unfortunately come with a risk of not getting all aspects of the story across.
INTO THE LIGHT
Between the cinematic scenes, you’ll have to go through each room and solve their respective puzzles in order to ascend higher into the tower. The puzzles are full of variety, with each one different from the last. One room might require you to put your companion’s clones in the right order to play a symphony, while another might require you to navigate through a room using just the right alignment of shadows. In addition to the variety, a lot of detail is put into each of the rooms and their subsequent puzzles. Items move, actions have nice sound effects, and a fitting soundtrack plays over each stage. All of these elements help to make each level feel fleshed out and polished overall.
After completing the first couple of puzzles, I was worried that the rest would end up being just as easy. Thankfully, I was wrong. The puzzles get harder as you progress, with a few easier ones throughout to break up the pattern. Without any text, there is no hand-holding, nor are there any hints or tips to get you through the levels. As such, some rooms can feel impossible to beat at times, but as long as you keep thinking and clicking, you’ll be able to figure it out eventually.
With a total of eighteen levels, it took me a little over four hours to beat the game, but it might take you anywhere from three to five depending on how much you get stuck along the way. Four hours is a little on the short side, but the quality of the artwork, the variety of puzzles, and the attention to detail does help to make up for the short playthrough length.
The Verdict: Great
Set apart by its stunning art style and hand-drawn animations, LUNA The Shadow Dust is a charming point-and-click adventure well worth checking out. Though the playthrough length is on the shorter side and the lack of dialogue doesn’t always express the story as well as it could, if you’re looking for a fun and visually pleasing puzzler, you can’t go wrong here.