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Moons of Darsalon, Review

Moons of Darsalon is the latest Dr. Kucho! game, published by Astrolabe Games, following on from Pilots of Darsalon – which you don’t need to have played beforehand. It’s an action-platformer where players take on the role of a Darsanaut, a member of a team of astronauts who have been lost during mining missions on the different moons of the planet Darsalon. The player’s goal is to lead fellow astronauts to the closest base station while protecting them from dangers and enemies. And it can get relentless! This game has it all – arcade memories, pixel art, reasonably tricky gameplay, fourth-wall-breaking, humour and lots of deaths.

In Moons of Darsalon, players take on the role of a Darsanaut, a member of an elite team of astronauts tasked with rescuing their colleagues who have been lost during mining missions on the different moons of the planet Darsalon. Players must guide their Darsanauts through a series of challenging levels, using a variety of weapons and abilities to overcome obstacles and enemies. Not everyone will survive, and you will just have to live with that.

If they die, they die.

Don’t feel too bad for them, though. Your fellows are not the brightest. They will gladly walk to their doom, refuse to hide or move from aliens shooting at them and become absolutely helpless when there’s no light shining on them. They’ll also blame you for anything that happens to them. Loudly blame you. So if they die, they die. But you probably want to ensure some survive for points and help you open some doors.

Save them All Scanlines

To help you along the way with these simple folk you’re tasked to save, you are granted some helpful tools. A radio to issue commands, a flashlight to illuminate caves, a laser gun to fight off hoards of rampaging aliens, a jetpack, and a ground maker to forge new paths. Your laser gun also doubles up as a handy tool for generating new paths, as it can destroy terrain. Not all terrain, but some. Luckily, there’s a noticeable difference in what you can blast away and what you can’t.

And sometimes, you even have to shoot the people you’re trying to save because they’re useless. Got a ledge that they won’t jump off despite just watching you do it? Get back up there and shoot them, sending them flying off the ledge. They act like they don’t want to be saved, and I will save them, whether they like it or not, by whatever means necessary!

It’s like being back at the arcade, just with fewer pound coins.

The game features a retro-inspired art style that harkens back to old arcade games. It really leans into that when the game is loading more than anything, but even in-game, it still has that arcade feel to it. That classic arcade side-scrolling feeling is captured brilliantly. You can almost feel like you’re back in some old-school arcade blasting your way through each level, trying to score as high as you can, which means saving as many people as possible.

The good news, though, is that the game is pretty lenient towards casual manslaughter, so you’re okay if you don’t save that many. No one will blame you if you have to repeatedly shoot someone dead that you’re trying to save because they seemingly don’t want to be saved despite saying that they do.

In classic gameplay style, you somehow lose your gun and torch between levels. Almost like you’re the most unprepared rescuer there is. Wait, is the main character also not the brightest?

There is also an excellent 8-bit synth-wave soundtrack that accompanies the game, which adds to the arcade feel. 

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Moons of Darsalon is a fun and challenging platformer that offers a unique and rewarding experience. The game has a lovely retro art style, challenging gameplay, and a variety of difficulty levels to choose from. Throw in the occasional abuse from fellows that claim they want to be rescued, and you have a highly entertaining game that I’ll often revisit, particularly on the Steam Deck. It’s not officially supported, but it plays really well on the Steam Deck. I see no reason why it couldn’t be classed as supported. In fact, this is a brilliant game for the Steam Deck. It really suits the handheld nature of the device.

Throw in a level editor and a GIF maker, and there’s enough to keep players coming back for more. Level editors are always fun, especially seeing how sadistic people can get with levels.

I rate Moons of Darsalon a 9/10!

If you’re looking for a fun and challenging platformer to play with, then I highly recommend Moons of Darsalon. Head over to Steam to check it out further.

A code was kindly provided for us to review this.

We Score This Game

rating score: 9


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