Green Moon is not the most polished game you’ll ever play, but it does an extraordinarily good job of capturing a player’s imagination with a point-and-click adventure that’s traditional in some ways and stunningly original in others. In this game your goal is not to solve a mystery or go on a journey, but instead to complete a cycle of magic spells that’s thousands of years old. Your quest will take you throughout time and ultimately to Earth’s moon.
You begin the game abruptly, with only the briefest of tutorials. You are in a house that has been abandoned for some time, but you seem to be its new owner. Exploring the house reveals strange objects, quirky clues written on scraps of paper, and hidden keys. Once you can get into your house’s basement, you’ll find out it was previously inhabited by a magic-user that passed away before finishing his (or her) life’s work. Now you have the magic book he or she left behind, giving you the opportunity to master great magic powers.
Playing Green Moon will feel absolutely familiar to anyone who grew up playing Sierra adventure games. You progress by gathering up objects and using them at the correct time. You may need to bribe NPCs with them, combine them, or brew them together into potions. Like Sierra’s games, you can die abruptly, but Green Moon doesn’t let you end up in a situation where you can’t possibly finish the game. The main challenge that faces you is keeping track of all the items you’ll need to complete your various tasks, since you don’t have enough inventory space to just carry everything around.
While Green Moon gives an impression of limitless freedom when you begin to play it, the game is actually very linear. Your magic book contains 12 tasks and you must complete them in order. You can gather up required objects in any order, but it’s hard to get ahead of yourself. The only danger you face in Green Moon is dying due to a losing a mini-game, which can force you to replay some sections of the game if you haven’t been saving frequently. Chances are you won’t start saving frequently until the game has killed you once.
Making progress can be Green Moon very satisfying because the game is genuinely difficult. Working out where to go next can feel like an achievement by itself. There’s no hint system beyond what the magic book and the other scraps of paper you find. As a result, Green Moon can get extremely frustrating when you can’t figure out the next clue or get lost in a particularly large area. Really enjoying the game can demand a lot of patience if you don’t want to use a walkthrough.
The game does make one very odd design choice: your inventory is extremely small. You can only carry a fraction of the items you find as you explore levels. You can always backtrack to an item once you’ve noticed its location, but this is frankly kind of irritating. It also pads out the game’s length significantly, since if you could just carry everything you found, you could complete it twice as quickly. Instead you’ll end up forgetting where things are located and blundering around for a bit trying to find it again.
Green Moon also suffers from some pretty severe localization issues. Items may have misleading names and instructions can be difficult to understand due to translation errors. Parts of the magic book just don’t make any sense, forcing you to blunder around for a bit. A few times the magic book tells you things that are outright wrong, like telling you to pour out onto the ground a magic potion that you need to drink. Green Moon would be a higher caliber of game if it was just easier to read.
How long you spend playing Green Moon is going to vary depending on whether or not you’re using a walkthrough and how good you are at deciphering the game’s sometimes-cryptic clues. Making progress can be a struggle, but Green Moon offers a good sense of satisfaction to players who like a challenge. Just don’t pick up Green Moon hoping for a player-friendly experience.