Retro Sci-Fi Memories
- System: PS5, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
- Publisher: WayForward
- Developer: Canari Games
- Release Date: April 5, 2023
Let’s take a quick test, who here remembers Prince of Persia? Now let’s ask you, what year did the Prince of Persia release? Many of you will no doubt lean towards Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time which launched in 2003 but that would be wrong because the first actual Prince of Persia game came out in 1992…yes that long ago. That was the older era of games where companies were continuously trying new things and Prince of Persia was no exception utilizing a creation method called rotoscoping—you can look it up for more info—and other games would follow suit as Prince of Persia was pretty rad for its time.
LUNARK, from Canari Games and published by WayForward, has reached out into the past gaming era with this new sci-fi adventure game—also using some themes from titles like Flashback and Out of this World—it has some pretty big battles to overcome. Can this retro-like title fight through the modern age or is LUNARK a bit too late to the party? We find out in our review of LUNARK for the PS5!
LUNARK is best described as what if the 80s/90s collided with indie games of the modern times. Focuses on a young man named Leo, who ends up diving head-long into a gigantic conspiracy—we won’t spoil much more than that as the story is easy to spoil—you must shoot, jump and survive various threats you’ll come across in numerous locations.
Our first few hours had us fighting giant cave spiders while moving relic keys around to elevate/lower platforms and then we were in a futuristic complex filled with robots, lasers, and timed doors. LUNARK clearly was inspired by tons of old-school movies and games which makes it the perfect title for those who itch for any references from their youth. Equally, we love the retro pixel artwork which looks dated—on purpose obviously—yet looks modern with some clever little tricks. Yes, LUNARK won’t be the next staple of high-end visuals or new gaming mechanics but it doesn’t need to be, it works because it utilizes the best themes it can find from the past.
If it isn’t obvious, LUNARK is like games from the Nintendo/Genesis days. Players will need to use their wits to solve puzzles or blast their guns at baddies just waiting to pounce! There are a lot of traditional adventure mechanics thrown into LUNARK like having to run and jump while holding various buttons together to cling to ledges or avoid pitfalls. Speaking of which, dying in LUNARK isn’t that bad as you will quickly be revived in specific checkpoints and it is pretty snappy which is nice…cause you will die a lot. LUNARK isn’t hard like Super Meat Boy or LIMBO but you’ll need to master the mechanics to make for some tricky jumps and solve some of the more brain-teasing puzzles.
If you didn’t read our review and didn’t look up when LUNARK was released, you would think LUNARK really did come out in the wrong time period. Yet, that is the charm of this title. LUNARK might look dated and might seem weird to be playing on a PS5 when you have games like Resident Evil 4 Remake or Final Fantasy 7 Remake releasing on it but that’s okay. LUNARK appealed to us—and you too—as it takes a classic style and makes it look so beautiful. The various locations, the short cutscenes, and the designs all are classic but classy. We did get tired of some of the repeated short cutscenes—like when you pick up keys or items—but even then we were like aww, this looks so retro and we love it.
We are often asked here at Honey’s Anime what are some of the best retro games to play in 2023 and yet we are often met with mixed results. Some gamers love dusting off their cartridge-based systems but others can’t live without digital downloads or Blu-Rays. LUNARK might be our newest way to tell people how to experience an old game but with modern conveniences. Those who can enjoy the sometimes slow movements, the occasional cheap death from a jump gone wrong, or the hidden secrets in rather obscure areas, will be the same ones who can enjoy older games. If you want an older game experience but don’t want to pay for one, then at only $19.99 you grab LUNARK and enjoy classic game experiences in a modern gaming era.