I understand that Moonboy is sleepwalking, as his world is all fluffy.
Sleepwalking has been seen as a lot of things through history. It has been surrounded by myths, and you were advised not to wake someone up if they were sleepwalking. Supposedly the heart would stop, and consequently the sleepwalker would die. There have also been a number of horror stories based on the sleepwalking idea. The cause of sleepwalking has yet to be fully understood, but according to my research on the Internet it seems to be some kind of development not happening correctly in the central nervous system while growing up. There is no proper treatment except pumping the patient full of drugs, and the best way to handle the issue is to lock the door, and hide all pointy objects. Given that there have even been incidents of sleepwalking people having sex this perhaps also extends to hiding your partner as well. If someone starts sleepwalking in your house make sure to guide them to bed again, and check that they haven’t read any Stephen King novels lately.
In the case of Moonboy we know the cause of his issues, or rather non-issues. He is just so tired, and wants to go back to bed. Awaken by a lunar sneeze, now that is a first, he just wants to get back to his comfy bed. It makes sense that he can’t do anything to save himself from dying, or walking into stuff given he is fast asleep.
Sleepwalker’s Journey is an auto-walker guide the hero to bed kind of game. It has some aspects of Toki Tori when it comes to puzzles, and a general Lemmings kind of feel to the general gameplay. You don’t guide Moonboy directly, but rather his environment making sure he doesn’t get hurt.
Each level has Moonboy walking, and the goal is to reach bed. Obstacles are everywhere, and you have to guide platforms up/down, and left right. There are fans, and cannons to help him forwards as well. If he walks into something you miss out on some of the collectible moon-orbs. If he falls off the platforms completely the game is over. You can rewind the last action done, but often I found that this was not a useful feature. Rewinding the game over and over to a point where I couldn’t do anything to save Moonboy just felt cruel.
Collecting goodies in the shape of moons, and stars affect the rating you get. The quicker you are the better, albeit there is never a real hurry. Overall the game didn’t feel like the kind where getting three stars really mattered. I never replayed a level to get a better score.
The level design is generally quite good albeit the difficulty doesn’t increase fast enough. This is the issue I have with the game: it lacks challenge, and I soon feel almost as drowsy as Moonboy. Sure, if you really want to collect everything without bumping into walls, or missing out on loot the game can demand a bit more from the player.
The strength of the game is the excellent presentation with some wicked cool backgrounds. Dinosaurs, strange towns and moons are all vivid and I get a kind of Alice in Wonderland on acid vibe. Moonboy is not the most animated character I have encountered, but the little he does he does well. Pickups are all gleaming with shiny moon dust that wouldn’t be out of place at a Led Zeppelin gig in the seventies.
With 45 levels, and whole lot of Game Center achievements there is quite a lot of game life to Sleepwalker’s Journey. There is never a sense of urgency though, and unlike the previous game from 11 Bit Studios it fails to hook me. If you aren’t aware of the earlier game it is the brilliantly addictive Funky Smugglers.
Sleepwalker’s Journey is a nice puzzle adventure for those looking for a game where you have to constantly solve obstacle puzzles on your feet. Moonboy moves about much like a lemming, but is perhaps even more fragile. The subject matter combined with the vivid presentation made me drowsy, and that is not a good thing. The game lacks the punch, and presence needed to make it an instant recommendation. As there are lite versions available I think you should try before you buy.
Sleepwalker’s Journey $0.99 iPhone/iPod
Seller: 11 Bit Studios s. a.