The Sun At Night Review – Homeward Bound

8

Crashing landing on Earth, Laika crawls from her ruined pod, unable to remember where she is or how she got there.  She finds her plasma cannon close by among the wreckage, attaching it to its holster above her hind legs before she continues on…

Every so often, a game comes along with just the right amount of narrative, character depth, and combat pacing. Minicore Studios’ latest project The Sun at Night has nailed all of the above and more.

Prepare to be blown away by an immersive experience where you take the part of Laika, a canine astronaut sent into space, only to crash land back on earth in the midst of a power struggle in Soviet Russia. Do you think you’ve heard part of this story before? Well in fact you have, Laika was an actual soviet space dog sent up in Sputnik II on November 3, 1957. Unfortunately, the Soviets had no de-orbiting technology at the time, and Laika’s fate was sealed as the first animal to orbit the Earth. While Laika’s real-life story ends there, Minicore Studios has taken this sad event and tried to continue the adventure. “What that kind of said to us, is maybe in fiction, in our game, we can think of some way to make it right,” said Peter Odom, the Creative Director of Minicore Studios.

sunatnightscreen2The Sun at Night is a 2D side scrolling action adventure game with fast paced combat, an impressive amount of character progression, and a solid narrative to stand on as you learn the story of what the world has become after Laika lands back in Russia. From the very start, the game feels reminiscent of Megaman X, as the tutorial introduces game mechanics, setting, and story seamlessly without having to rely on text frames or novelized help screens with an endless amount of reading. It goes so far as to make sure that you as the player lose one of the first fights in the game, nudging you to want to upgrade your weapons, shields, and movement capabilities to be able to come back and handle those tougher fights later on.

TheSunatNightThere are quite a few weapons to choose from; you start off with a blaster which can be charged to fire off a larger shot (yes there is another Mega Man parallel there), and you’re able to upgrade each weapon individually, or based on their grouping. The upgrade system includes an Offensive, Defensive and Utility tree, each with their own aspects from double jumping and hacking, to an increasing shield regen rate and weapon power. The game really allows you to customize your own gameplay around how you’d like to play it, and then rewards you for choosing a style. At the end of each progression tree is a powerful ability that makes maxing out that skill tree worthwhile.

The combat itself is introduced fairly well; the first weapon you find you can either pop off a few small shots before it overheats and you have to wait for it to cool, or you can charge the weapon and fire a larger, more damaging shot and then wait for the weapon to cool. When being shot at, you don’t have to simply rely on avoiding the ensuing ‘bullet hell’, but are equipped with a sophisticated shield system. Activated by the right mouse button it will absorb a limited number of shots before breaking and having to recharge. This mechanic is also skillfully used throughout the game when encountering different environmental obstacles, such as an electrical beam. In these instances, “better shield through it” is a common and more clever use of such a simple mechanic.

The chiptune soundtrack is perfect at providing the feeling of a futuristic, almost dystopian Soviet Russia as you and fellow freedom fighters battle against the government. It helps to lay down the foundations for an immersive experience, and will stick in your head for hours after you’ve stopped playing the game.

sunatnightscreen4There aren’t many other ways to say this: GET THIS GAME, as it is well worth your time, and more then worth the measly $15 that Minicore Studios is asking for. The game currently has a greenlight campaign on Steam and needs our support to get into the Steam library.

Good Things

  • Combat is paced well, well integrated and very responsive
  • Narrative is in depth, with intricate characters and plots
  • Animation is very smooth

Bad Things

  • Default settings can leave you confused for map navigation
  • Character progression could be paced quicker at the beginning of the game

The Breakdown


Graphics
8
Gameplay
9
Sound
7
Lasting Appeal
8