PEGBRJE: Luna’s Wandering Stars

This is why I didn’t pursue physics.

I’m just going to show a perfect so nobody thinks I’m bad.

Luna’s Wandering Stars is a gravity-centric space puzzle game made by Serenity Forge, indie game development and publishing studio based out of the United States. Another studio that I was familiar with before the bundle began, they’ve also been featured previously in the bundle as the publisher of a few titles. This title was made by them personally, and allows for players to learn about the glory that is space physics through the eyes of a very mobile moon.

Each level of Luna’s Wandering Stars is structured with the same end goal; have the controllable moons collect enough asteroids to fill its outer ring and move on to the next level. All the moon has to do is collide with these asteroids to grab them while avoiding hazards and they get to move on to the next planetary asteroid field. Simple enough, except for one tiny detail: this is space, meaning gravity no longer exists in the rudimentary way that we can think about it on Earth. Each object technically has its own gravitational pull that can actually be seen and felt at this size, especially when orbiting a planet as a tiny moon. At first it simply appears to be a game of ‘slingshot’ where the player will give a force and direction to the moon and let it go, but the projected direction will confirm what many who know physics already understand; there’s a lot of rotation and pull incoming. Even after launching the moon in the direction wanted, players will see that gravitational orbits don’t always play ‘nice’, especially on multiple rotations as the moon settles in to an orbit. Don’t even start on the size of the planet that can alter how fast the orbit can break down, or that asteroids may have forces applied to them as well for them to move. And this is all just in the tutorial.

Luna’s Wandering Stars begins its planetary quest to create mind-boggling physics puzzles as soon as that tutorial ends, for each planet that the player visits will introduce a new mechanics for them to memorize and implement in to their solutions. Such examples include removing the force/direction functionality in favour of limited pulses that on-click will give the moon a jolt of force in the intended direction which can cause even more frustration and understanding of how wild gravity can be. There’s also the ‘sling’ mechanic, where players instead place down a zone that remains for a few seconds and contains a direction that, if the moon passes in to it, will be thrust way. There’s so many ways for gravity to be utilized and abused that players will have to constantly be looking at their previous attempts to see what may be going on and how to improve. Finally, to add even more challenge in the precision area, there are three golden asteroids within each level that are the ‘real’ target of the player. Acquiring all three (along with actually finishing the level) will give a ‘perfect’ rather than a complete, and they are required to unlock future planets. Just getting standard asteroids won’t be enough; some times players need to go for the big prize, and the drive to acquire them is intense. So many levels were restarted simply because I only got one golden asteroid, and the smug little dialogue made me go back and try again until I could acquire at least two.

There’s an expansiveness to the precision of Luna’s Wandering Stars. Perhaps it is because of the space setting, with gorgeously scenic backdrops and little tidbits about space constantly starting each level. Maybe it’s because moons can simply fly off the screen if not careful, leading one to wonder what exactly is stopping us from simply attacking another planet by hurling moons at them through the walls. Regardless, it gives you a fantastical experience and understanding of the physics involved in space, and the ability to attempt to put them in to practical use. Sure this wouldn’t really happen in reality, but an asteroid did kill the dinosaurs so I think it’s best for us to at least understand our possible enemy of the future. No matter how you wish to approach, you’ll be learning about space while constantly trying over and over to send your moon in a precise arc just to get that last golden asteroid. Good luck, space cadets.

This should’ve been done yesterday, but I didn’t realize it was a lone piece until it was a little too late. Woops. 25 starts tomorrow.

Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.