What can I say about Moo Lander? That is, what can I say about it that I didn’t already cover in my preview article from last year. First I can say that I was mistaken, it wasn’t a human astronaut, but an Alien one. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Moo Lander is a twin-stick Metroidvania – now officially a “Mootroidvania” – and if you people over at The Sixth Hammer got that one from me, you’re welcome and while a thank you check wouldn’t go amiss, I won’t hold it against you if one never appears… Moo-Lander sees an Alien astronaut diving to the surface of a surprisingly terraformed Mars in search of cows, because Milk is the lifeblood that runs their society, powers their cities, fuels their spacecraft, and arms their weapons. No, really, that’s legit the premise. You’re an Alien (and his snarky AI) sent to abduct Martian cows to save your dying race. Serious Moo Lander is not, though everything is delivered with the earnestness of a more serious subject, which just adds to the almost B-movie sense of charm the game has. This, at least is the same as in the demo. What’s added, however, are some very well-drawn images to go with these cut scenes, to give us a greater idea of the culture we the player character come from and the scale of the crisis we face. The story is simple, but more than you might expect from a either a Metroidvania or a twin-stick shooter, and full of both good humor and twists, so as not to spoil either, I won’t discuss it further, save that it kept me quite entertained.

Now, much of what I said in the preview remains exactly the same. You have levels, you’re stuck without any upgrades at the start and have to use the environment against itself until you finally manage to find a shield and a gun, etc. That’s not to say things are exactly the same, however. While the opening areas go through very similar beats as the demo, even the tutorial area has been tweaked and you are very quickly introduced to new areas with new puzzles and bosses with new abilities. The developers tout that they have created a “mighty cow AI” and while this is almost certainly hyperbole, each cow I’ve faced has not only had a unique attack pattern and defenses that mean you can’t simply wail on it and hope to get lucky. As each of the cows has its own attack patterns and own unique arenas with hazards and tools, you must learn and use this to defeat the cow and abduc- I mean capture for their sweet sweet ultra powerful milk and help stave off the end of your society.

The story is deliberately absurd, but charming
The story is deliberately absurd, but charming

Moo Lander touts itself as an RPG Metroidvania. What this means, in practice, is that in addition to unlocking abilities through exploration, you also unlock other abilities – or more specifically upgrades to abilities – through levelling up. Defeat enough enemies and you can improve your milk shield to be more efficient, or your milk guns to deal additional damage or fire in a new pattern. You can also defeat a certain amount of enemies or collect enough resources to acquire new skins for your Lander, which can be equipped to both change the appearance of the ship and give it powers like damaging enemies on contact or dropping extra health whenever an enemy dies. Keep in mind though, that everything requires milk to run, and when you run out you’re a sitting duck until you can find a milk recharge station (these and health stations are provided in every boss area as they are mandatory), but a tiny amount of milk regen would not have gone amiss.

The only other problem I have with Moo Lander is that there are a few areas where you have to navigate your ship through a very narrow path of dangerous obstacles and their hitboxes are not the most clear (and their sprites blend with the background somewhat) but these are thankfully few and far between.

Everything in this game is as gorgeously rendered as this single screen
Everything in this game is as gorgeously rendered as this single screen

Lastly, I want to talk about the multiplayer. Not only is there co-op multiplayer with remote play, but there’s up to four person couch co-op where you can play as the Landers against the cows, cows against the Landers, play a soccer minigame between cows and Landers, and fight wave after wave of enemies alongside a friend. And this is all couch co-op. So, even after you finish the story there’s lots of ways to have fun with your friends in Moo Lander.

Tim reviews Moo Lander on PC with a review code. Moo Lander is also available on Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

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