6180 the moon, developed by Turtle Cream, was previously released on Windows PC and Steam, and has finally made its way to the Xbox One. The game has received a good amount of praise, winning Best Indie Game at the 2014 Tokyo Game Show. Even Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, has heaped praise on the game, so I was excited to get my hands on it.
The premise of 6180 the moon is quite simple: the sun is gone and the moon has gone off to find it. You play as the moon, and travel to the Moon, Earth, Venus, Mercury, and the Sun. Each of these destinations is its own chapter in the game with ten levels to play and overcome. In each level, you navigate through barriers and obstacles to arrive at a target on the opposite end. Each chapter has small cut scenes of dialogue that advance a simple, but surprisingly good story that has some depth to it.
What sets this game apart from other platformers is its uniqueness. Gravity has a far different meaning in 6180 the moon. Think of it as the effect on the moon itself. Gravity is not as strong, so you are able to jump higher and farther, and it takes longer for the force to pull you down. This is most evident the first time you jump and go through the top of the screen and up through the bottom of the screen. It is an intriguing element to the gameplay that you must use strategically at many points to overcome obstacles in various levels. It is also impossible to die in the game from falling. The only way you can die is from hitting spike looking things in the levels. Additionally, there is a somewhat unique save mechanism in the game. Almost every level (except the really short ones) has random blocks that are solid white. If you move over one of those, your progress is saved at that point.
As you advance through the levels and chapters, the game becomes more difficult and a few new things are introduced. First, there is one power-up in the game that intially presents itself in the Venus chapter. It allows you to stop mid jump by pressing the B button, and then coast downward until gravity forces you to accelerate into free fall. Second, some platforms of blocks will appear and disappear every three seconds on some levels, forcing you to move quickly and accurately to survive. Third, blocks that are outlined in green, instead of white, shatter and propel you up or down on the screen based on whether you hit the block from above or below. Finally, there are breakable blocks in the game that are shattered by positioning the moon on a block with a button on it. This will trigger the destruction of the blocks, clearing a new path for you.
Gameplay is very simple, but effective. The only controls you will use in this game are the left stick, A button, and B button. It can take some patience and some trial and error to get the hang of the game, especially going through the top of the screen and up from the bottom, but once you have the timing and feel of this down, the game is only moderately difficult. Timing and positioning are paramount in 6180 the moon, as you cannot attack obstacles too quickly or at the wrong angle. It also requires knowing when to use the power-up; just because you get it early in a level doesn’t mean that’s the right time to use it.
If you’ve seen still shots of the game, you already know the graphics are very basic and simple. If you’re hoping for incredible visuals, this isn’t the game for you, as Turtle Cream have clearly decided to forego visuals in favour of the gameplay experience. Still, I felt they could’ve done more on this front. In an age where many gamers focus on graphics and resolution, a game that at first glance looks more Atari than Xbox One might turn some people away and make them dismiss it outright. That’s a shame, because the game is fun to play, but it’s also a reality in 2015. With that said, the score to the game is actually quite good. I enjoy playing games where the music feels like it really fits the moment and the experience, and 6180 the moon delivers on that.
The downside of this game comes down to three things – length, repetitiveness, and replay value. Let’s start with the length of the game. I finished the main story in one hour and forty minutes. Yes, that’s right. It took you more time to watch your favourite EPL club’s last match than it did for me to start and finish this game. To further state this, there were a few levels that I completed in less than 10 seconds. I’m not even all that amazing at platformers. Add in the fact that I was taking my time because I am reviewing it and you’ll understand how short it is. After the main story is complete, you can go back and play all of the chapters in reverse, including reverse gravity, but they’re just the same levels recycled.
By the time I got to the Venus chapter, I was beginning to get the feeling that I had already done certain things more than once. The game isn’t even halfway over yet at that point, so for a game that is so short, to be feeling repetitive before the mid distance isn’t a good thing. It was still fun, and there were still some very unique levels later in the game, but the overall variety of challenges in the game was sometimes lacking.
Finally, when you have a game that is less than two hours to play the main story and still feels repetitive at times, it dramatically hurts the replay value of the game. I can’t see myself picking it up again anytime soon now that I’ve finished it. The core gameplay and experience is fun and often rewarding, but it doesn’t leave you with that desire to go complete it again. You won’t feel like you have to go back and do the things you missed because it’s impossible to miss anything the first time through.
If you’ve played Ori and the Blind Forest and want another challenging but fun platformer, 6180 the moon is a great option for the price. If you haven’t played Ori yet, just spend the extra money and play that. At the very cheap price point it has, 6180 the moon offers some unique, fun gameplay, but it is a short experience that won’t leave you wanting to play it again.