App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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There’s something curiously refreshing about Moon Surfing. On its face, it’s more or less just another runner, but there’s more going on here. Instead of being infinite, or loading its world with huge amounts of hazards, Moon Surfing is quiet, and even serene sometimes. The focus in this game is on efficiency more than it is speed or reflexes, which is worth celebrating, even if it doesn’t entirely achieve all of its goals.
In Moon Surfing, you pilot a solar-powered hoverboard over the surface of the Moon between designated outposts. Your goal is to get to these outposts without running out of energy, which is tracked on screen via a timer. There are some outposts you can get to just fine with plenty of energy, but the game really starts to get interesting when you have to optimize your energy usage on a journey.
In addition to finding gates to surf through that grant more energy, you can pause your board’s energy usage if you aren’t actively steering it and the board is high enough off of the ground that it doesn’t need to make itself hover. This means that you’ll spend a lot of time in Moon Surfing looking for makeshift ramps on the Moon’s surface that you can leap off of in hopes of stopping your timer enough times between outposts that you can make it there.
The vast unknown
In each map of Moon Surfing, there are multiple outposts to move between, and you can choose to tackle them in any order you wish. Moreover, the game doesn’t box you in on a specific path once you embark, so you’re free to find any way you want to any given outpost, or even change your mind about which one to go to mid-trip.
It’s a really freeing experience, and this freeform movement gives Moon Surfing quite a unique feeling. This isn’t a runner that’s fast or frenetic. It’s much looser than that, but it maintains objectives and challenges around surviving between your trips so it still feels like a game.
As interesting and weird as Moon Surfing is, there is one, glaring issue with it that can completely take you out of the experience. The game’s physics behave in a really strange a punishing way that is both hard to get a handle on and generally frustrating to deal with.
If you’re cruising along the surface of the Moon and find yourself running into a rock or up a slope that’s simply too steep, your board will collide and bounce off of the obstacle before propelling you forward again. The only problem with this is that your board reacts in the same, dramatic way to all of these obstacles, and it’s almost impossible to recover from. It’s a weird and small detail, but it’s so annoying when it happens that it makes me want to put the game down almost every time it happens.
The bottom line
Moon Surfing isn’t your typical runner, and that’s mostly a good thing. Its open-endedness, efficiency-based gameplay, and unconventional structure make it feel like a breath of fresh air in an App Store full of generic runners, but that doesn’t make it perfect. Despite some rough edges though, Moon Surfing is an experience worth having.