LifeisXbox’s Moo Lander review | This self-proclaimed “mootroidvania” may not have been the type of gameplay you expected from seeing screenshots or reading the name, but it does play like a game in the genre, minus the backtracking with new abilities.
When I first herd of the game on socials, I somehow thought this was a one-screen minigame type of title, with landing a UFO or trying to abduct cows for experiments. But it is in fact a metroidvania-style game where you regain your abilities and power up your attacks as you progress through a linear story about mutated cows and a civilization that is powered entirely by milk.
Most Memoorable Moment
There was a trippy part in the game where Lander (the player character) was hallucinating and turned into a cow himself. He also seems to have a weird phobia of hands. It’s a game that can get a bit weird at times, but the banter between Lander and his ship AI Hamilton can get entertaining.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by the developer, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Nice moovement & combat | Contrary to a lot of similar games, you don’t have to run and jump here but you fly through the levels. Especially in the early moments, this can make Moo Lander feel like a wire loop game, you know, that game where you have to carefully navigate a metal ring along some wires and make sure you don’t touch the sides? With hazardous levels to moove through, it adds a lot of excitement. Using your offensive abilities against the regular enemies also feels great!
- Play as you want | Defeating a certain number of enemies of each type will give you a different skin to equip, which also grants a passive ability like damaging foes that touch you, or being able to fly through the barriers you can set up later in the game. You also gain “milk” when defeating mutated Mighty Cows (the boss fights of the game) and can use this to power up your offensive and defensive abilities.
- Plenty of checkpoints | You won’t ever have to worry about losing a lot of progress when you die, as there is always a checkpoint nearby. This makes even the harder difficulties approachable, as you can simply try and try again until you succeed.
- Hand-drawn characters & environments | While not as visually attractive like Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Moo Lander does have a nice visual appeal with all its hand-drawn art that is used in the game.
- Mooltiplayer | I wasn’t expecting any multiplayer modes in a game like this, but you can challenge yourself to wave-survival or face friends in battle or a kind of soccer game called Galactic Mooball. They probably won’t entertain you for very long, but it’s a nice touch to include these. Mind you: the controls will take some getting used to, especially for the people joining you that didn’t complete the single player campaign.
- A cheesy story | There is a weird narrative here about a civilization that is powered by milk and them using cows to survive. You’re controlling the last ship that is capable of interstellar flight and land on the planet Earth that has since undergone mutation after your species meddled with the natural evolution. It takes a bit of suspension of disbelief, but I liked how it allowed the social media campaign to use a lot of cow-puns. Though I was hoping to see even more of them in-game, but the story kind of takes itself too seriously for the subject matter.
- The Moosic | The background moosic does a good enough job at setting the atmoosphere, but it’s not very memoorable. (Ok, Ok, Pun overload, I’ll stop!) I also had one instance where I faced the final boss of the game again after dying and the background music had stopped playing.
- Cow vs Lander combat | While the regular combat is fine, you’ll need to use non-lethal attacks versus the cow boss fights and they are pretty hard to hit. The cows usually run around in a hazard-filled environment and they tackle you or moo loudly to send shockwaves your way that make it hard to hit them. It often resulted in me having to get a few hits in, finding the health-restoring location on the map, and repeating the process, which wasn’t very fun, despite it being the core mechanic of the game.
What we Disliked
- Easy to get lost | If you pick up where you left off playing on a different day, it can be confusing as there is no indication of which direction you are supposed to go next. The game is linear, doesn’t have a map and no real instructions on where to go or what to do next, so I recommend playing it in as few sittings as possible so you can keep your bearing. There are also a few trippy segments where the level transforms as you fly through it, which added some insult to injury.
- Environments look alike | There are three major biomes in the game and the environments all look very alike, making the above-mentioned navigation even harder with few visual landmarks to mark your way.
- Not completionist friendly | I love to get 1000G in the games I play, but that is not an easy feat to accomplish in Moo Lander. For starters there is an achievement per difficulty for completing the game, but they don’t stack so you will have to beat the game four times to get each one. I personally lactose patience skills. There is also a lot of optional content like hidden cow battles that you can easily miss and the game has no back-tracking or any option to revisit previous areas, so you’ll likely need to play through with a guide if you want all the optional boss fights in the first run, or get the achievement for all skins or full Experience.
How long to beat the story | ~8-10 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | ~35-40 hours (4 playthroughs minimum)
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.