It’s nearly here. The game which pits you against nature’s most cunning enemy whilst trying to locate the most powerful energy source in the universe. That’s right, Moo Lander sees you fighting off alien cows to get your hands on their milk.
Moo Lander was originally slated for an early 2020, followed by late 2021 release, however it was pushed back to Spring 2022 like many other games these days. However, I’ve been hands-on with a short demo created by the good people at The Sixth Hammer to see how the game is shaping up.
You play as the last hero of the Landers, aided by your trusty AI Hamilton who sounds uncannily like a Google Home speaker. You’ll be zipping around in your mini spaceship in a quest to find an ancient device which can produce unlimited amounts of the white stuff, which has become an essential resource. The mission is so important, that failure could spell the end of the Lander civilization once and for all.
Not much has been revealed regarding the storyline in the demo, however I was able to ask Hamilton for advice at any time, as well as being given a two way dialogue tree to choose from on a couple of occasions.
Your mission takes you to a planet called Mars (no not that one), which is overrun with beautiful but often deadly wildlife. The backdrops and animations are all created by hand, which gives off a rather pleasing indie effect. The self-recorded orchestral soundtrack is a nice listen also, if not a little eclectic.
Plants and creatures of all shapes and sizes will be trying to stop you, but thankfully your Lander has numerous ways with which to defend itself. Whether it’s fighting off giant vines or trying to swat pesky insects, you’ll need a fair amount of milk on board in order to make use of your arsenal. That’s right, your weapons are powered by milk. Keep up.
You can defend yourself with the milk shield, or go on the offensive with the milk bullets. The milk sabre has a generous range and pretty devastating effect meaning it became my instant favourite. Steering and aiming with your Lander is controlled with the classic dual thumbstick setup often used in FPS games and feels like the best fit too.
There are also RPG elements to Moo Lander. You’ll earn XP as you battle enemies which will unlock new abilities (such as dash) along with ship camouflage modules (that are essentially skins). Taking out as many enemies as you can is risky, as health points are scattered, but will yield the most rewards.
Every so often you’ll run into a boss, which happens to be one of the ancient mighty cows. Make no mistake these are no normal animals, but your aim isn’t to kill these beasts, but subdue them using non-lethal weaponry. They are lively so and so’s who will throw up barriers and fire projectiles at you to prevent being captured.
The boss battle I played was fun, and the battle arena shifted as I chipped away at the cow’s health bar. However, it takes a fair while to deplete it which magnifies the simple shoot and dodge gameplay. In encounters such as this, Moo Lander feels closest to an old school scrolling shooter. I can see these encounters becoming a grind as they get more difficult later on in the game, especially with claims of “lighting-fast lethal Cow AI”. It actually worries me a bit.
Happily, there are the usual three difficulty options to choose from in Moo Lander. I went for normal (straight down the middle) and found it to be challenging enough with only a couple of gameplay segments proving tricky. For me the challenge came from the combat as the puzzle element was very simplistic during my playthrough.
I also had the opportunity to try the local multiplayer (three different modes were available), which play out like the boss battles. Two were pretty similar, and you could play as the Lander or one of the Mighty Cows either against an AI opponent or with up to three other players. The last was a sort of intergalactical football match, which was a fun distraction from the main game.
Moo Lander is billed as an action RPG game with Metroidvania elements. It certainly is intriguing and has a look which is likely to attract players. However, from what we’ve seen we’re unsure as to whether this can be sustained over a full single player campaign. We’ll only know for sure when we see moo-ore.
Moo Lander is due to drop onto Xbox (the Xbox Store link is here), PlayStation, Switch and PC in the very near future. When it does, we’ll be there with review.
For now, thanks go out to The Sixth Hammer team for giving us access for this preview.