Anyone who believes that pixel graphics are a dying art form has yet to dive into the indie scene, where they are alive and well. Lunark is the perfect example. Created by individual studio Canari Games and brought to life with the support of 2,824 people on Kickstarter, this game is a celebration of countless things. The highlight is that it shows how focusing on a simple story and having basic mechanics can be solid building blocks on which to build an experience like this. Lunark is an adventure that pays homage to its roots and inspirations in a beautiful and entertaining way. Unfortunately, it also has its flaws.

Lunark begins with a cinematic sequence and continues in the same vein. In a dystopian future with scenes of giant skyscrapers, flying cars and high-tech environments, we find our protagonist, Leo, who has escaped under mysterious circumstances. Most of the story is pretty traditional, but the fact that the game draws from so many different elements makes it even more charming. In addition to pixels, it also has mechanics that seem like a tribute to the past.

The sequences and movements are very similar to a variety of titles from the 80s and 90s, which the game introduces with great knowledge. Anyone who lived during this time will recognize Leo’s actions. It is not that the movements are limited, but that they must be executed with precision. For example, jumping is difficult because it has to be timed, so it requires a lot of trial and error. Even so, what causes the most frustration isn’t this dynamic, but rather the save point system, which is quite inconsistent. Sometimes you are forced to repeat long parts of the game and you end up getting bored. Also, if you want to pause in the middle of a level to play again later, you often have to start over from the beginning. It’s an odd design decision that punishes the player and takes a toll on the game’s pacing (pretty good, by the way).

Many of Lunark’s levels feel like puzzles, either because of the moves you have to make or because you have to figure out how to do it. Sometimes the path is blocked by enemies, and although Leo is equipped with an unlimited ammo pistol, the weapon has a cooldown after a certain number of shots. Luckily, you can take on your opponents one at a time, though there are a few specific times when the design falters a bit and you have to sacrifice one of the three lives you start with to progress.



As for the complaint about the save points, it is that some levels have too many obstacles to go through. It makes sense that there are challenges, but as a player I’d rather tackle them one at a time, than see chaos erupt all over the screen for no apparent reason. Especially when I die and have to back off a bit.

Lunark’s pixel graphics are full of charm. What I like the most is that they bring life to things like an abandoned bar with neon signs or other environments where the detail pops out a lot more. In general, graphics work best in environments that have futuristic aesthetics and are very colorful. There are too many dark caves and other dark places where the pixels look a bit flat, but I think it makes sense to introduce different scenarios for variety and different stimuli. There are also engaging video sequences which I loved, and the animation in this game is top-notch. Unfortunately, the biggest limitation of the graphics (apart from the dark places I mentioned) is the boring and anonymous protagonist.

I wish the soundtrack was more memorable and dynamic because it would have improved the experience considerably. Unfortunately, the game’s music isn’t very impressive.


I completely understand the love of designing games as before, even if the jumps reduced to a specific frame or the general rigidity ends up making it slow and boring. I wish it was smoother and had a less forced way of increasing the difficulty, instead of this design that punishes the player just for looking like an “old game”. Climbing and timing the jump can be fun on many occasions, but most sequences end up being boring because they are so repetitive.
There are quite a few surprises in terms of design, story, and challenges, but the game as a whole is dragged down by boring environments and frustrating moments where a fatal fall (or whatever) would force me to repeat the same sequence.


Lunark is an entertaining indie game with lots of great ideas. The pixel graphics are one of the many reasons it has a charm that’s hard to refuse, and it ends up being a trip back in time that shows us what video games were like before. While I understand the slightly sluggish checks are a deliberate decision, that doesn’t mean they were frustrating on many occasions, which could have been easily avoided with better distributed save points. Personally, I would have had more fun that way. I think you just have to look at Lunark’s footage to see if you like its vintage and retro action style. Despite its flaws, many parts of the game are quite successful.


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