As a child growing up, my teenage years were spent sinking my time into the PS1. I have a very strong nostalgia for that era of gaming and Lunistice taps into every aspect of that. It’s a simple game that takes the modern 3D parkour platforming genre we enjoy today and places it back into the PS1 and Saturn era graphical style and level design. It eschews complexity for fluidity and flow – this is about the joy of going fast. In many ways, its like a Sonic game more than a modern day Sonic game is.
You play as Hana the Tanuki and she has a malleable and floaty control scheme. Running is the default speed and she has a fairly tight turning circle but whilst she isn’t perfectly precise, the ability to move her mid jump or using a triple jump mechanic that allows you to counter-steer is key to why Lunistice works so well. Don’t expect pixel perfection but do expect the ability to easily course correct yourself if something goes a bit wrong. There are only a handful of enemies in your way too and they are almost all dispatched in a single hit. Lunistice reminds me of Bound in many ways as that was a speedrun game with little difficulty but everything felt so poetic as you glide through the worlds.
Talking of levels, there are 7 worlds and 14 levels – each world adding a new mechanic into the mix. Especially satisfying are the rail grinds where you hit a gem to unleash the next tree vine to grind on and then jump to the next tree alongside you. It feels cinematic and full of freedom even though the game is very on rails and direct. The sole times you’ll veer off the main path are to collect HANA cartridges as optional bonuses. These require extra timing or precision to get right and often are the main uses of the walk button so you can be more precise. Worlds do try different things too. There’s a musical world where platforms vanish to the beat which requires a bit of skill to navigate around but the beat is on screen for you to follow. Elsewhere one forest level starts out as a central hub where you then ride tree branches to different challenges to grow a central tree.
Beyond the main game other characters with different speed and agility are unlocked and this changes the games feeling substantially. This provides longevity but the main push here is going faster, beating your own times and trying to achieve S ranks through speed and not dying. Each level is liberally showered with checkpoints so death isn’t a harsh penalty but you will find S ranks will allude you unless you really commit to perfection.
All of this was for just over £4. It comes with a banging soundtrack that evokes mascot PS1/Saturn era electronica and beats and several graphical styles to HD the blocky polygons or leave them CRT fuzzy. Its a simple game but it delivers buckets of fun that rarely comes from a game that understands the joy of platforming flow. It’s something most recent Sonic games have lost and Lunistice ‘gets’ it far better. In a world where so many games overcomplicate themselves – this is the perfect antidote. Lunistice left me smiling long after playing.
Higher Plain Games is part of the Higher Plain Network. If you like what I do, please consider supporting me via Patreon for as little as $1/£1 a month. There are additional perks for supporting me, such as behind-the-scenes content and downloads. You can also share the website or use the affiliate buy now links on reviews. Buying credit from CD Keys using my affiliate link means I get a couple of pence per sale. All your support will enable me to produce better content, more often. Thank you.