Mirrormoon EP: review Ben Meredith November 8, 2013 Reviews I awoke confused, wondered some cryptic words to myself and explored a planet. I moved a moon, built a bridge and was sent to the cockpit of an analogue ship drawn from the mind of an 80s futurist. That’s how I began my journey into Mirrormoon EP. It’s a striking start to a striking game. A game of mystery, exploration and a sense of loneliness even when surrounded by activity. A silent striving, punctuated only by ethereal music and delicate crystalline structures. The bright colours contrast the relative quiet of the empty planets, impressing upon me a great sense of isolation; of being a small part of a gigantic universe. It feels eerily real. It also helps that the game leaves the player to work out what the hell is going on. To begin with, I felt lost and frustrated; when I was done with the first section, though, the satisfaction was incredible. I was glad that I had solved that puzzle and didn’t just have a hint calmly inform me of why I was an idiot for not doing it quicker. The theme of the game is that of exploration – travelling the galaxy and discovering planets – so this hands-off approach keeps this consistent: playing the game is an explorative task in itself. You’ll be travelling to these planets in your ship, which is an intriguing affair. Every button is a mystery and serves an important function, giving the cockpit a really convincing edge: all parts of the ship felt solid and weighty, evoking the joy of finding old tech and pressing buttons just to see what popped and clicked. I felt like I was flying through space in a craft developed during the era of floppy discs and VHS players. Actually getting anywhere felt like an accomplishment and by the time I was familiar with the controls I really felt like a voyager, flicking switches with expert timing and calculated precision. A precision which I had developed on my own. The exploration of planets, however, lacks this sense of purpose and tight design. The main mechanic consists of manipulating the moon, which mirrors the planet itself and can be rotated or moved to act as a map or to cast a shadow, revealing objects that only appear at certain light levels. It’s a great core mechanic, but lacks any sort of depth as the puzzles have to be simplistic due to their randomly generated nature. The tutorial puzzle is by far the most involved and intriguing one you’ll come across and the gameplay itself just doesn’t have enough to it to keep things engaging. The grander part of the game comes from this continued exploration of a galaxy, and it is here where the game begins to slightly lose its charm. Galactic completion is achieved by a communal effort of exploring planets and naming them if you are the first to complete them. It’s a nice system, making it incredibly cool when you find yourself in an unexplored section of the map, free to name planets at a whim. There is an offline mode you can play, but no-one else will be able to find your conquered planets. Whether the game can be completed, however, feels like just as much of a random and empty exercise as exploring planets individually. During the couple of days – and twenty-five or so planets – I spent with the game, completion only went from 24 to 36 percent. Were there any more features to be unlocked? Had I seen everything? The Observatory achievement for “activating a star map artifact” seemed to suggest there was more, but I couldn’t for the life of me find any indication of what an Observatory was, or how to find one. This aspect of naming planets for little reward makes the whole game feel more like a social experiment than a piece of entertainment. The kind of thing you’d play to help out a friend studying psychology, more than for your own enjoyment. I don’t want to come across too negatively, though, as Mirrormoon EP is a very interesting, well-presented and ambitious game. It just doesn’t have all that much to it, so interest wanes quite quickly unless you’re the exploring type. Personally, I’d love to see Santa Ragione – the studio behind Mirrormoon EP – take this concept forward and work it into a deeper game. That’s a game I would be very excited about. Wrap Up It’s eerie, beautiful and intriguing but the game just didn’t have enough substance to it to draw me in fully. I’d recommend it for the atmosphere, but play it in short bursts to avoid the repetitive nature. PS – If you ever come across the planets Eegron, Dimble, Plimp or Crunk on your travels, think of me, I’m quite proud of those. For more information, please read out reviews policy here.