Renegade Kid is doing their damndest to push the DS in a variety of ways. With their games Moon and Dementium, they've attempted to bring a big-console feel to the dual screens, and the two represent a genre outside of the handheld's typical comfort zone. Moon and Dementium aren't so colorful as most DS games, and they lack the familiarity of a game like Metroid Prime Hunters. These are games of atmosphere, and often, there's blood on the walls and malice in the air.

So it's fitting that their games are also about exploration, about discovering limits and new areas. Renegade Kid may not succeed in every aim -- and Moon does not -- but they're doing something different (at least, for the DS). When you're talking about a phenomenon like the DS, when everyone wants in, and everyone is releasing games on it, companies that go against the norm are to be lauded if they are at all successful. Though Moon is uneven, it succeeds in a lot of ways, and so it is to be lauded, too.

Gallery: Moon



Don't think Moon is exactly like Dementium in space, however. The two games may both operate in similar technical realms, but the experience is wholly different. Where Dementium was at times frenetic, with enemies popping up again and again, without the chance to catch your breath, Moon is a slower, more careful experience. If it you kill it on the Moon, it stays dead, and so the player, as Major Kane, has plenty of time to explore the game's environments and worry over puzzles.

You'll want to spend a lot of time looking around, too -- at least in the beginning. After the standard Inciting Incident of Badness, when the game gets underway, Moon is impressive. The framerate is smooth and fast, and the controls are perfect (once you get used to them), and there are rooms and doors and details to be explored. It doesn't take long, however, for things to get repetitive, and here Moon suffers slightly. The enemies are often shapeless and blocky, and they're reused over and over, until you start to crave something new. Moon's design in this respect may be realistic, but no one ever said realism was always desireable in gaming!

In games like Moon, a good map is a necessity, and here the title delivers. The map is your constant companion as you explore and backtrack through the lunar corridors, and areas you've already explored are marked for ease in navigation. Combined with the game's smooth controls, honed from the team's experience on Dementium, Moon is a pleasure to play.

But play here may be an acquired taste. Moon is a game about story, and as you hunt down clues, you may find you spend more time exploring and thinking than anything else. The puzzles, too, aren't the most creative; most test your timing and ability to hit a switch. For some, the action may drag on, and repetitive puzzles and battles won't help. For others, the sense of isolation, the pressing, often eerie atmosphere, and the sinister music and effects will blend together into a seamless whole. It's easy to get lost here, in the mystery of Moon; between the com-link connections with other astronauts, the overall story, and the presentation, there's a lot to love, and the flaws seem smaller and more forgivable.

Final verdict: 8.0/10

This article was originally published on Joystiq.