Explore What It Means to Keep Trying in 2D Platformer Lonely Sun
Mobile games run the gamut from meaningful works of art to mindless time wasters (I'm looking at you Candy Crush.) Lonely Sun syncs difficult gameplay with a real life lesson to create a mobile gaming experience that entertains and evolves the player. In Rinikulous Games' first mobile title, you are "gravity's guiding hand," as you work to guide future planets through the perils of space until they are large enough to orbit around a Lonely Sun. You start with the tiny cores of potential planetary giants to build a solar system piece by piece.
Let me start by saying, level one of the original release was so hard that the developers released an update to make it easier. This should give you a clue what's in store when you pick up Lonely Sun. It's simple enough to pick up and play, as you use your finger to guide your planet core through various obstacles, but beating the levels is a whole different story.
There are absolutely no checkpoints. Zero. Nada. You die, you start over from the beginning of the level. There isn't a progress bar either. The only clue you have is a running tally of how many crystals you must collect before you beat the level. When you die, your tiny planet shatters into a million colorful pieces -- kind of like how your heart does when you have 4/5 crystals and die before getting the fifth.
If you're a gamer who enjoys a real challenge, this mobile game will truly test your mettle across its 15 levels. If you easily get frustrated, you might want to spare yourself from rage-quitting and the urge to sling your phone across the room.
So many expletives...
Lonely Sun definitely requires a sleight of hand that takes some getting used to. The tiniest movements are the difference between success and the death of your fledgling planet. Take your time, resist the urge to rush (or throw your phone against the wall), and you've mastered the first step to successfully completing this game. Eventually, muscle memory kicks in and you'll find the ground you already covered much simpler to navigate. You almost have to adopt a zen state of mind and get into a zone to flow through the levels (and keep your blood pressure low.) The more you try, the better you get, and you're that much closer to beating the game.
If you angle it right, you can push the floating rocks into the red obstacles of death to shield yourself or create fewer points of contact.
Although the game is difficult, there are some allies to help you out if you know how to use them. Crooks and crevices will quickly become your friend (and provide an opportunity to strategize), as will the floating rocks that can serve as an anti-gravity bullet-proof vest for your vulnerable, young planet. (Tip: If you have to pause the game mid run, make sure you situate yourself in a place where you won't roll into your doom once you un-pause it.) However, the main thing that's going to get you through this game is sheer force of will.
Visual and Audio Aesthetics
Hands down and without question, Lonely Sun is a minimalist-inspired beauty of a game. Each planet has a predominate element attributed to it (water, fire, earth, wind, ice), and this is reflected in the graphics for each level. Polygonal structures that make up the artwork mesh well with the feeling of cold desolation present throughout the game. The color palette is striking and chock-full of complimentary colors that draw the eye. As the cherry on top, the soundtrack adds to the sensation of utter isolation in the deep void of space -- If you're going to repeat a level 80 times, you may as well enjoy looking at it.
The Deeper Meaning
So often, knowing the intent of the creator is key in unearthing a new level of enjoyment and appreciation for a work -- whether it's a piece of artwork, a book or a video game. The thing I love the most about indie games (apart from playing the game itself) is exploring the inspiration, themes and deeper meaning contained within the title. Lonely Sun does not disappoint. The game is intended to be a metaphor for life, and it succeeds on every level.
According to the developer's website:
Overcoming dangers, navigating through strange worlds, remembering what you’ve gone through, learning as you go… all these are meant to make you resilient. The inevitable nature of failure gives you two choices: pick yourself up and try again or let the memory of your existence fade away.
Accomplishing goals takes time. The cosmic powers of planetary genesis that create the vastness and mystery of space follow the same rules: patience. Patience is the key to creating something beautiful, something worth living for.
One thing we keep hearing from players: “No checkpoints?”
Our response: “Does life have checkpoints?”
If you keep the game's message in mind while you go through the levels, whether you successfully collect another crystal or you explode into pieces against an obstacle, your desire to keep trying and see things through to the end will grow. I know it did for me. Once completed, you probably won't pick up the game again, but the message will certainly stay with you.
This game is well-worth the $2.79 price tag, and guarantees hours of intense, focus-or-die gameplay. When you pair gorgeous game design with a heartfelt message, you get a game that will give you a new perspective on more than a few things. If you're looking for a challenge, look no further than Rinikulous Games' Lonely Sun, now available on the iTunes store.
Editor's Note: The developer provided a review key for this game.