Even with an inconveniently designed save system, Lunark is a game I’ll look back fondly on for reaching the highest of highs. It’s easily one of my favorite titles in recent years, one I’ll undoubtedly revisit. A must-play for cinematic platformer fans, Lunark’s full of surprises, bound to leave lasting positive impressions with players. If this is indie studio Canari Games’ first release, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Lunark is a carefully crafted flashback to the narrative platformers of the early-90s. With beautiful rotoscoped animation and a plot straight out of a Philip K Dick novel, it's one trip to another world well worth taking.
I fretted about the severe lack of resolution in this intentionally overpixelated world, but that ended up not being much of a problem -- items and characters are difficult to discern when they're built with fewer pixels than Mario got back in 1985, but the vibe works overall. If my 41- year-old eyes can parse these pixels, surely yours could too. [Issue #65 – May/June 2023, p. 22]
While I doubt Lunark will go down in history as one of the all-timers of cinematic platforming, it’s well-made enough that anyone who likes this underserved niche should check it out. The presentation is on point, the story and setting are intriguing, and the mechanics feel like a close cousin to Flashback. This flavor of game isn’t going to be for everyone, especially those lacking warm and fuzzies for the specific era it’s paying homage to, but the target it’s aimed at is going to have a blast with it.
Despite releasing in 2023, playing Lunark feels like opening a perfectly preserved time capsule. It’s unashamedly old-school in its approach and attempts to recreate an experience that we just don’t see enough of these days, and for that reason, I absolutely adore what Canari Games has created here. The art style may be a little too busy at times, which can actually be gameplay-impacting, but it’s easy to forgive when it looks this good, especially when given a chance to shine on the Switch OLED. Lunark is absolutely a game that won’t be for everyone, but it doesn’t need to be. Canari Games’ mission was clearly never to create something that appeals to a huge audience. The mission statement was obviously to deliver a passion project that speaks to fans of cinematic platformers, and Flashback more specifically. On that front, they can consider this a job very well done.
Even our minor frustrations with Lunark can’t overshadow the joy we felt as we played this unashamedly retro platformer. It is a competently put-together and lovingly crafted homage to an often-overlooked genre of gaming. Even the imprecise controls and Leo’s sluggish movements feel like a feature and not a bug in the game’s design. If you can wrap your head around them, there is a solid platformer to enjoy.
SummaryA pulp adventure set in the midst of a rebellion against a totalitarian regime.
You play as Leo, a lonely young orphan with unique physical and physiological characteristics that arouse the curiosity - if not the hatred - of its fellow citizens. You'll help him fulfill his destiny in the midst of a rebellion against LUNARK, and meet a w...