We got the chance to play the Rock Pocket Games’ and Funcom’s promising psychological thriller, Moons of Madness, at this year’s E3.
The game is a first-person, story-driven cosmic horror experience where you have to solve the mystery of a new colony built on Mars – and why most of the crew has disappeared.
Read our full hands-on preview below:
Tyler Valle’s Take:
Of all the forms horror can take shape in, there is nothing more terrifying to me than Cosmic Horror.
Lovecraft’s style of bleak pessimism in a vast and uncaring universe opens many doors and each one of them can potentially carry within them a monster that is ready to drive you to the brink of madness.
That is why I am so curious about Rock Pocket Game’s new title, Moons of Madness, as it seems to be a game not only using the genre of cosmic horror, but fully embracing it and treating the concept with the respect it deserves.
There are very few horror games out there that are what I would call “spooky”, but from the little that I played of Moons of Madness, the developers, even during the more mundane parts of my demo, were able to consistently keep me on the edge of my seat.
I think that one of the aspects of the game that is so great is that it was quickly proven to me that it is not an action game. You are not running around with a rocket launcher blowing away monsters like a Lovecraftian Doomguy.
Instead the game does exactly what it should, you are weak and to overcome that weakness you need to keep your wits and take your time. You need to play it safe, avoid enemies when you encounter them and pray that you make it out of there alive.
The opening moments of the demo wasted no time making me feel uncomfortable as I awoke from some kind of sleep just to see that the Mars Station that the game takes place in has fallen to ruin. It is as if months have passed with no one around.
The power barely works and the sounds of emergency sirens still fill the air. The tone is quickly set when I step into a dark hallway and just outside of my vision is the shadow of some woman.
I was almost immediately sucked into the spooky atmosphere despite the fact that I was not even playing the game in the best environment for a horror game, a testament to the quality of game that Rock Pocket is aiming for.
Suddenly, just as quickly as the story started, I re-awoke in my room, but this time everything was normal. I was in the same place, but it was as if it were just a bad dream. Instead of trying to avoid monsters, I instead went to the break room and grabbed a cup of coffee.
I then did some workouts and I tried to get some of the malfunctioning pieces of the station back online with the help of my buddy over the radio. Despite the fact that the mood had shifted so dramatically, I could not shake the uneasiness that permeated through the station.
Things as small as a little post-it-note that was on the coffee maker that alluded to a “witch” that people have claimed to see around the station at night reminded me that I was not just here to have fun.
Things in this station were about to get crazy, but unfortunately I would not have the time to get to experience it during my preview. I hope to learn more about Moons of Madness (and maybe even do some streams of the game) when it releases on Halloween this year.
Brandon Orselli’s Take:
I somewhat blasted through the beginning and set up moment’s of Moons of Madness due to a bug where I got stuck and incapable of interacting with anything or progressing further. The developer reloaded the game at the next checkpoint, which ironically takes place right after Tyler stopped.
The preview quickly got into the creepy and dank parts of the station, where you had to find your way through the darkness and claustrophobic corridors. Sound design is superb, and with a high-end set of headphones you really get an eerie experience.
Once I started crawling through some pretty dark tunnels, it felt like I was truly alone and pretty screwed in terms of survival. While the goal was to open pathways to go and hopefully find the remainder of your crew, otherworldly things seemed to be warning you every step of the way.
At one point, as I turned a corner in a particular tunnel, a large creature hightailed it behind me and seemingly jumped over me, escaping out of view before I could turn quick enough. Sound design here was particularly fantastic, and it genuinely felt like something stalking around me.
After exploring a bit through some pretty gross looking corridors and such, I found myself in a somewhat dilapidated greenhouse. The goal was to find a tool to fix the darn thing, and with the timing on my demo coming to a close, I couldn’t fix the machinery in time, but I digress.
Moons of Madness is a very promising psychological thriller set in one of my favorite settings – a Martian colony. I’m very curious what Rock Pocket Games and Funcom have in store for the full experience, and I’ll definitely be checking it out when it launches in October!
Moons of Madness is releasing during the Halloween Season 2019, for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.