Moo lander: First impressions from the E3 Steam Demo

Moolander title image

Oh boy, here we go, so here are my first impressions from the Moo Lander E3 demo. Honestly, this title surprised me, and I think it could surprise you too.

The game has recently launched a publicly accessible demo on Steam during E3, so you’re free to try it for yourself here. If you’d like to know more about it first, the somewhat tongue-in-cheek cinematic trailer shown below helps you establish what to expect from the title.

My very first impressions of Moo lander

One thing you’ll notice right away upon booting the demo – and something that remains a constant throughout – is that the sound work is of impressive quality.

This is the first game I’ve booted for a long time that hasn’t tried to deafen me on launch with sheer volume. AAA publishers and developers, please take note of this because you’re getting absolutely outclassed by The Sixth Hammer on this. Quite frankly whoever is responsible for balancing default sound levels in this team needs to give the rest of the industry a tutorial.

Anyway, moving on from my literal first impression of the game, we’re quickly met with the title screen. While I didn’t spend particularly long here, preferring to quickly get into the gameplay itself, it’s hard not to notice that the background has a very detailed, vibrant style to it – again, another constant of the demo.

A segment of Moo Lander Gameplay

From there, launching you into a new game treats you to yet more scenic views, albeit this time with our protagonist, or rather protagonists, having seemingly crashed.

The ship is briefly inspected and licked by a cow before it leaves, while the Lander, our main protagonist, seemingly reboots the onboard AI known as Hamilton. The voice work of both is solid quality stuff, though Hamilton’s voice does give me some “Text-to-Speech” vibes, so I’m not sure if “voice acting” is the correct term. Regardless, his voice plays well for the intended comedic deadpan after-effect.

Moo Lander First Impressions Crash Landing
Moo Landers opening, the Crash Landing,
Credit: The Sixth Hammer

With the ship up and running again shortly thereafter, the Lander is left pursuing the Cow after its quick departure, though many systems seem to be missing or otherwise offline.

The small craft is then left exploring the planet, evading dangerous plants, both of the stationary variety and otherwise.

Grabber vine in Moo Lander
Such as this Grabber Vine, who will do as the name implies – grabbing and crushing the ship if it can manage to do so.
Credit: The Sixth Hammer

Fortunately, by the time the player has encountered plants like this, they’ve been introduced to a re-enabled defence mechanism, a “Milk Shield”.

This milk shield consumes some of your “Milk-gauge” whenever it collides with something and is used to fend off the plants that have, at best, a lacking understanding of personal space.

The Milk shield and more plants in Moo Lander
The Milk shield and more plants in Moo Lander,
Credit: The Sixth Hammer

Past the “Grabber Vine” is an interesting sequence where, after evading spike-riddled plants along the walls, the Lander has to bounce blue projectiles flung at it into other spike plants blocking the pathway forward.

It’s an interesting bit of interaction between your first defensive tool and the local flora to say the least.

There’s a fair bit of wandering through areas like this in the demo, and a handful of puzzles to resolve – some of which involve plugging the bottom of the flying craft into a rock to manipulate it like some kind of superior alien USB system.

Health Plant response in Moo Lander
Health Plant response in Moo Lander,
Credit: The Sixth Hammer

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I was far more impressed than I expected to be with this demo in all honesty, the name had thrown me off at first but I ultimately gave it a go based on the quality of the art design, and the sheer quality of the demo was a true surprise.

At one stage, I was prompted to select a dialogue response to the AI, pictured above. Unfortunately, it seems keyboard support for that wasn’t in at the time, as I was unable to use arrow keys for it.

With that said, I later discovered upon opening the demo for a second time it’s recommended you play with a gamepad/controller, so this segment expecting D-Pad input makes far more sense.

My fault for not noticing that the first time, of course, though it’s fairly impressive that the Keyboard controls were good enough that that was the only issue I encountered while using a control method that was not the strictly suggested one in a demo title.

Unlocking the Guns in Moo Lander
Unlocking the Guns in Moo Lander,
Credit: The Sixth Hammer

The lander unlocks a few upgrades throughout the course of the demo, including but not limited to the shield previously discussed, guns, and some kind of milk-powered sword that seems to be such a particularly potent weapon it was all I used for the majority of the demo after unlocking it.

I’ll avoid covering the entire demo here so that people can experience it for themselves, but needless to say, there’s a lot going on – the demo seems to be intended to serve as a highlight or action reel after all if my first impressions of the Moo Lander demo are anything to go by anyway.

The End-of-Demo Boss Fight

Now, we can keep talking through the play-by-play of this demo, or we can skip ahead to a personal highlight: the final boss.

The demo culminates with a boss fight versus the cow you’ve spent most of your demo time pursuing. “Berta”, as the boss health bar reveals her name to be, is the boss in question. Frankly, I had not expected to be battling a rampaging cow that weaponised sound waves today, but here we are.

The bossfight towards the End
The boss fight towards the End of the Moo Lander Demo,
Credit: The Sixth Hammer

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Ultimately, the player is tasked with dropping “non-lethal” bombs on the cow in an attempt to capture it at the end of the demo. The primary challenge here comes down to timing, as the cow attacks back with an effect not dissimilar to the cow version of Skyrim’s famous Unrelenting Force shout, throwing you and projectiles backwards.

That might not sound particularly bothersome at first, but your bombs can only be dropped directly downwards, presenting an issue with landing hits on the cow.

Additionally, the roof is covered in a rapidly regrowing coat of spiky plants. And the cow will very happily push you into those with its sound attacks.

If you manage to sufficiently damage the cow, you are met with the following screen

The end of the boss fight in Moo Lander's demo..?
Victory at last!
Credit: The Sixth Hammer

Finally, the cow goes down after being “non-lethally” bombed into submission. You can then do the typical alien thing, and abduct it, naturally.

And at last, you claim victory over Bovine-kind… for about 3 seconds…

Post-boss fight
…Or not.
Credit: The Sixth Hammer

Cut to the end screen of demo after the new swarm of angry Bovine-like creatures is introduced immediately post boss fight.

Well played, Sixth Hammer, well played.

Moo Lander first impressions, summary

In all honesty, my first impressions of Moo Lander are remarkably positive. Much more so than I would have expected when I encountered the game for the very first time.

Despite these impressions, and just how surprisingly polished Moo Lander is at this stage, there are still a handful of small quirks that confused me. They just threw me off, slightly.

As an example, there is surprisingly little banter between Hamilton and Lander while just moving through the demo – as their interactions when they do speak seem quite natural, the quiet seemed slightly out of place. Of course, this just could be a demo issue where all voice work is not yet in place.

The quirk with the largest gameplay impact I noticed was a fairly simple one. The environmental hazards sometimes do not stand out from the vibrant background and scenery as much as they should, resulting in not immediately noticing the potentially lethal danger.

Given the immediate freely available checkpoints, however, this is not a major issue by any stretch.

Health plants and a dangerous red plant
One of the previously mentioned dangerous red plants is visible here, off to the left.
Credit: The Sixth Hammer

All in all, based on this demo, Moo Lander is a surprisingly polished product for a game that still has until Spring 2022 before its launch, and it’s got plenty of time to clean up the few issues I noticed in the Demo.

If you’re curious about Moo Lander and want to go and experience your own first impressions of the title, you can find the game on steam here. The website for Moo Lander can also be found here. I would recommend that you give it at least a glance so it can have a shot at surprising you too.

If you’d like to see more reviews by The Click, you can find those here, meanwhile, if you’d be interested in reading more from me, you can find the rest of my work for The Click on this page.

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