Moo Lander is probably not the kind of game you’re expecting it to be. Indeed, even in our preview of the game, played using the now commonly available demo, we experienced a slice of the game that doesn’t run as deep as the final version. This Moo Lander review comes from a fuller experience. We’ve dived deep into the world of Landers and cows, and found that there’s something satisfying within.
Moo Lander‘s theme is one that you’ll either love or hate. It tells the tale of an alien race that uses milk for fuel and food. This alien race is at war with another alien race, and so you have been sent on a mission to find new sources of milk. On Mars. Where there are giant alien cows. For some reason.
The game attempts to deliver some tongue-in-cheek humour between the player character and his AI companion. However, the dialogue is very rarely funny and seems to be scared of delivering much more than the idea that you’re character is pretty dumb, and aliens love fart gags. It feels like it’s attempting to be Rick and Morty or South Park at times, but without any of the nuance.
The gameplay however, is far more well rounded. The game aspires to be a Metroidvania experience, however it never runs quite that deep. In your 2D environment you’re free to pilot your ship (or Lander, as they’re referred to in-game) in any direction. However, the game rarely asks you to backtrack beyond a few corridors of it’s twisting level design. The objective is always pretty obvious: to progress further to the right, overcoming the obstacles placed before you.
Those obstacles, more often than not, are logic puzzles. A fragile wooden wall ahead and some cunningly placed rocks. A thorny plant that damages you if you approach, and some other plants that shoot explosive darts if you get close. Some balance beams that block new locations until titled, and a long slide next to the empty half. These are basic puzzles that build slowly into more complex mechanisms. By the time you’ve located your third cow, you’ll be prepared from some headscratchers.
The cows themselves are essentially boss fights. You have limited weaponry, which in typical Metroidvania fashion can be expanded upon as you progress. You can also level-up certain abilities as you defeat enemies and solve puzzles. While this gives the illusion of freedom, it’s quite strictly regimented.
The campaign is certainly enjoyable, though it never quite reaches the depths of recent Metroidvania titles such as Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night or Demoniaca. I’m reluctant to say it’s shallow as that has several implications, however Moo Lander certainly does not even attempt to reach the complexity of many of it’s peers. This could be seen as both a blessing and a curse, depending on your familiarity with the genre.
The multiplayer, or ‘mooltiplayer’ as the game refers to it, is a local-only affair. While you might think that a game like Moo Lander wouldn’t really benefit from a mulitplayer mode, you’d be surprised. The Landers vs. cows options are rather boring, but there are two modes which can actually provide several hours of entertainment. Especially when played with a full quota of four players.
Galatic Mooball is reminiscent of Rayman Legends‘ soccer mode, and just as entertaining. The objective is to bat about a ball using only dash and block moves, aiming to score in the opponents goal. A survival mode is also included, where players co-operate in an attempt to work through several challenging waves.
As you may have gathered from this Moo Lander review, the game offers an enjoyable package. However, it’s almost as if it’s been designed as an entry level Metroidvania experience. If you’re looking for a stepping stone into the genre or perhaps to encourage a friend, Moo Lander is a very welcome option. But if you’re a keen player already you might struggle to find the worth in the game. The demo arguably doesn’t portray the true strengths of the game, yet the game itself doesn’t do enough to convince the naysayers. Moo Lander will find an audience, it just may not be the one it was expecting.