Lifeless Moon Review

I missed Lifeless Planet when it released a few years back, though by most accounts it was an enjoyable – if slight – indie exploration title. When the sequel crossed my desk I figured it was a chance to see things for myself, so jumped on in. What I found was not quite what I was after, though it’s not without its charms.

These first person sections offer a welcome reprieve from the slow walking, but come with their own quirks and faults

We play as a nameless astronaut during 1970’s missions to the moon. While there, they suddenly encounter what looks like a familiar town – complete with diner and apartment blocks – as they crest one of the craters. From here, things take a turn for the surreal, with heavy elements of a psychological and sci-fi mystery. 

The narrative is a heavy focus in Lifeless Moon, with plenty of exposition and revelations throughout the 3-4 hour journey. I can’t say it was one that especially interested me though. While I liked the twists and turns at certain points, I found it hard to get invested in the travails of the astronaut and his companion, who we see at certain points and is also affected by ‘The Event’ that has happened to cause all of this weirdness.

As far as a concept goes, Lifeless Moon is interesting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fulfil its potential

It has its moments, but there’s a lot of chatter that feels a bit too blustery and self-referential without really putting in the effort to earn it. Lots of ‘cosmic’ powers and beings and the like. I found myself tuning out far more often than I’d have liked. I did quite enjoy reading some of the diary entries we find though, as these felt a bit more down to earth and explained what was happening in a more cogent way.

Gameplay takes the form of exploration and puzzle solving, and is once again passable albeit not all that interesting. Puzzles are simple but easy enough, usually revolving around finding an item in one place and taking it to another. Occasionally we’ll enter a room or building and the game will turn into a first person affair. We don’t have direct movement, rather we aim at predetermined points and press a button to travel there. Puzzles follow the same structure as above, but add in certain placement/ordering requirements too. These are easy to do, only hampered by a far too twitchy right analogue stick that makes aiming at the specific points in a section incredibly frustrating. Trying to place an item down was an exercise in patience rather than puzzle solving logic at times. 

Exploration is slow and rather tedious for the most part. Our astronaut can run and jump (and briefly make use of a welcome jetpack) but in attempting to convey the scale of the environments we end up just…running slowly… for far too much of the game. It’s not that things don’t happen on the way – be it finding firetrucks to fight fires with, or opening a portal that then creates new platforms to progress – but it all felt too drawn out and just not particularly interesting. It’s not that we’re exploring the environments but simply passing through them, the only times I really got stuck being when I’d glazed over during a cutscene and missed what I was supposed to be doing.

Our astronaut moves slowly (be it running or climbing). There’s a button to slow them to a walk for trickier platforming sections, but I found it better to just keep at the already glacial pace

What didn’t help were the controls which, as well as being too twitchy in the puzzle sections, just don’t lend themselves well to our experience. Even on max settings the camera pans far too slowly, and despite using the analogue stick for movement we can only direct the astronaut in one of eight directions, as though we were using a d-pad. This might not sound too bad, but there are a fair few narrow pathways to navigate and – while it’s not hard – it is far more fiddly than it need be.

As mentioned though, Lifeless Moon does have its charms. There are moments of genuine intrigue (although fleeting), and there’s the potential for the setting to grab some people for sure. It’s also crafted by a solo developer, and for that I commend both them and the game. But I can’t help but feel that it’s all wrapped up in a gameplay experience that is fiddly, slow, and underwhelming at almost every turn


Lifeless Moon has its moments, but lacks any real excitement or interest that would have me recommending it to others.

This game was reviewed based on Xbox S|X review code, using an Xbox S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.

Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

  • Neat concept
  • A few moments of intrigue
  • Slow, plodding gameplay
  • Fiddly controls
  • Lack of anything really interesting or exciting to do
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

Leave a Reply

Lost Password

Please enter your username or email address. You will receive a link to create a new password via email.

Skip to toolbar