Lunar Lander Beyond Review – A Middling Return

Lunar Lander Beyond Review - A Middling Return

The moon. A beacon of space exploration. A jewel in the night sky. Since the dawn of video games, it has always been a source of inspiration – leading to countless text-based lander games, culminating in Atari’s own arcade game in 1979. 

Now in Space Year 2024, we get Lunar Lander Beyond which aims to reinvent the concept for a modern audience by introducing a story to the proceedings. This has you joining the crew of Pegasus Aerospace – a firm tasked with flying cargo-carrying missions. Not only that, but they’ve got a few skeletons in the closet as you’ll eventually find out.

Throughout 30-odd missions, you’ll be handling errands from picking up passengers and new crew members, to acquiring new technology and assisting with calibrations of payload launchers amongst other tasks. 

These all play out in a similar fashion – after choosing your assignment, there’s an introduction before you select a pilot and lander, before receiving the full briefing. I wish this had been presented prior to selecting your ship and pilot – as that way you’d be armed with the knowledge to pick the right pilot and ship for the job ahead. 

For me, this choice is the defining feature of Lunar Lander Beyond. Each pilot you recruit carries a set of randomly assigned traits. These can range from being more fuel efficient with their lander to earning more from any crystals collected whilst in flight. Completing missions will earn them XP, and as they level up, additional ones are unlocked. 

While the traits give you pilots advantages during their assignments, stresses can provide some major disadvantages. Stress will accumulate depending on how safe you’re flying, and as this starts to reach critical levels, you’ll start to see hallucinations which can serve as additional hazards.


This isn’t permanent, as pilots can be taken off the flight roster and given some counselling to get it under control. However if you’re feeling devious, you can choose to pump them full of drugs instead and get them reinstated much sooner. It’s an option, and it’s your choice as to whether you want to be that kind of captain or not. 

I love how this works to translate the raw challenge of landing from the original game, but I can’t help but feel it needed a few tweaks to make it more effective. What I found was there were traits that could reduce the stress pilots could accumulate in flight, meaning the pressure for precision flying gets reduced as well. 

I feel your choice of lander can reduce some of the challenge as well. You start out with only a single model available: the Beetle, which has a traditional control scheme where you rotate and apply thrust to move in the direction you face. It’s just that the combination of a slow rotation rate, and the ability to apply a lot of thrust means you can go zooming out of control way too easily! 

The developers have tried to mitigate this by letting you install modules on your lander. Most of these you’ll have to find during your missions, whilst others are given to you for completing certain missions. While I did find them useful, particularly the ones that provided a landing assist or the force shields, I can’t help but shake the feeling they’re here as less of a way to shake things up, and about compensating for the lander flight models.

I feel this gets amplified once you unlock the Dragonfly, the second Lander. Its flight model is wildly different from the starting landers, and though it’s slower, it’s far more controllable. 

That’s a neat trade-off, but once again, the pilot perks mitigate it as you can have one that greatly accelerates the lander you’re flying. This made the Dragonfly my ace in the hole for most of my time with the game. 

Does it cheapen the experience? Without a doubt. But I absolutely hated how the other ships flew. Where the original focused on patient flying, that isn’t the case with Lunar Lander Beyond as it choose to focus on speed instead. 

Both directly, as you’ll have missions where you fly through checkpoints before time runs out, or indirectly, as each assignment offers a par time to beat in order to earn a gold medal. It also doesn’t help that you have no readouts for your velocity, meaning a precise landing is less about finesse and more about clumsily getting your descent under control. 

This ties into the story, and for all the talk of the narrative, I can’t say I really felt it was worth it. A large part of that is from the characters, most of whom felt they had one character trait and that was it. I also felt the voice acting was rather lifeless in parts, making this stick even further.


What also didn’t help was the overtly corporate nature of the world here – it tries to present the tone you might find in a more satirical game, but there’s no pay-off. It plays it straight, and maybe I’m just exhausted from the vibes of Space Year 2024, but I can’t say that it made me want to care about this world at all. 

The vibe also impacted my desire to really care about the quest you have to work your way through, which sees your fledging crew travelling across a number of planets to resolve a crisis that threatens humanity, which would you so believe is caused by your employer messing about. 

In fact, the final climax left me cold, and though there are plenty of missions, many of them are fairly short to complete, meaning it’s not a long experience to clear out unless you want to be a perfectionist and get all the Gold medals on the hardest difficulty.


Lunar Lander Beyond offers some great mechanical ideas, but it’s the execution and the lack of finesse that left me wanting more. From landers with sluggish controls to pilots and their traits cancelling out the challenges those brought on. It makes for a game that is frustrating as it carries so many neat ideas that are all lost in the final execution.


Lunar Lander was reviewed on PS5 with a key kindly supplied by the publisher. 

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