TLT/06 is an unknown planet 101.4 PC (parsecs?) away. It will take 1 minute 2 seconds to fly there with my current tank of fuel, and there’s no way of knowing how complicated or simple the planet will be until I land and start looking about. I could just walk up to the sphere that’s the planetary goal and be done in a couple seconds, or there could be a series of pieces needed to attach to my moon-manipulating tool that will allow me to navigate the world’s surface in order to find the giant spire that houses the orb. Nothing for it but to figure it out as the problems arise.
MirrorMoon EP is a game about exploration and navigation, albeit in a minimalist sense. There’s no enemies to fight or threat of any kind, but rather a series of small planets with ethereal buildings serving different purposes. The buildings are made of light, so you can walk right through the walls, but each one does something. Figure out what they do, the correct order to visit, and how to find your way around each nearly-featureless planet, and you’ve earned an orb for your troubles.
On most planets you’ve got a gun-like tool that’s got a few modules you can find scattered across the planet’s surface. This “gun” (for lack of a better word) lets you play with the moon, which is a small duplicate of the planet hanging in the sky. Buildings are in the same place, you can sometimes see yourself as a small arrow moving across its surface, and any changes made on the planet are reflected on the moon above you. Which doesn’t do anyone a whole lot of good when on the other side of the planet, of course.
To fix that you’ll obviously need to move the moon, of course. Pieces of the gun upgrade it so you can spin, drag, or mark the moon, and they’re found in buildings scattered around the planet’s surface, assuming the planetary puzzle layout requires their use. Sometimes you’ll need to do everything from dragging the moon about, dropping it in front of the sun to cause an eclipse, and rotate it to get your bearings. Other worlds don’t even have a moon, so you beam down without any tools at all and follow the clues to find the orb. Whether the moon is high in the sky, closer to earth with its gravity pulling rocks from the surface, or simply not there, every world is different.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the same thing as interesting. After a bit of experience the mystery of the strange buildings turns to familiarity, and a quick look about points you in the right direction to the puzzle. This thing will be found here, that clue over there, leave a few markers once you’ve got the gun piece that allows this to help with navigation, and done. Navigate to the next planet (which can take a minute or two of sitting there waiting, game minimized while doing a bit of light web browsing) and repeat.
The saving grace is that the game has a beautiful minimalism that doesn’t wear off anywhere near as quickly as the planetary mysteries do. Bands of light streak to the surface, rocks rise and fall as the moon’s gravity passes over the ground (don’t question the science!), rings spread from a central point in the sky and only fade out after enveloping half the planet, plants of light grow in fields of slightly askew geometry, and many other sights make for a universe worth exploring. The flat-shaded low-poly look comes to life with muted colors, which doesn’t make a lot of sense but somehow works anyway. MirrorMoon‘s universe is vast and beautiful, filled with otherworlds sights stretching across its lonely reaches.
You’re the only person in all the galaxy, as it turns out, but there are traces of others who have been there before. Other players are exploring the same galaxy as you, and the first to explore a planet gets naming rights. Initially on the game’s launch it was a race to explore the galaxy, but now a few weeks later several galaxies have been explored to 100% and the pace has settled down nicely. Once a galaxy is completed a new one rolls out, and while that means starting a new save game, the journey is about exploration rather than simply tallying up planets. A new galaxy simply means more worlds, rather than any loss of progress.
MirrorMoon EP is a lovely trek through the empty vastness of space, exploring planets and solving their mysteries. There’s a larger overarching mystery in the stars that will take a lot more solving than the planetary puzzles, but when each new galaxy has 1000 planets finding it involves a bit of luck to go with the cleverness. For the most part you’ll be poking through space, picking up orbs, naming planets, and getting pleasantly lost in the galactic depths. It’s a big universe out there, filled with beautiful sights, and while it can get a bit repetitive after a while, it’s worth setting out just to see what you can find.
Version Reviewed: PC