Life has its ups and downs, things change, and we even begin to wonder what it all means. This reflection can be good for us as it allows us to decompress and even learn. Relaxation techniques coupled with this thoughtful insight can do wonders, so why not create a gaming experience revolving around this concept? Ritual of the Moon offers you the chance to do just that, and it’s definitely a unique experience.
Ritual of the Moon places you in the shoes of a witch who has been banished to the moon by the inhabitants of Earth. She is left alone with nothing to do but contemplate life in general, what has transpired in her life, and what she will do moving forward. There isn’t much of a story beyond that, but the plot isn’t what this game is about. Relaxation and reflection is the name of the game.
The game takes place over the course of 28 real life days. Each day you are meant to turn on the game and play through that day. There’s very little to do during the day so it will only last a few minutes at most. After the day ends, you are taken to a screen consisting of a ring with symbols; there are 28 smaller rings within the larger one that symbolize the days, with a new one getting filled in after each day. This screen doesn’t disappear until the next day, so the only thing left to do is exit the game and come back tomorrow. It’s a bit disappointing only getting a few short minutes worth of content per day, but it’s meant to be a calm meditative experience.
You start off standing outside of your space pod, staring at Earth. Clicking on the Earth shows you what the witch is thinking; the thought that pops up is different every day, so I recommend clicking on the moon at the start. Afterwards, you’ll want to enter your pod. Clicking on the control panel only yields a “where would I even go?” no matter how many times you click on it. You can also click on the day tracker ring to see what day you’re on in case you forgot. In the middle of the pod is a surface to click on that shows you a myriad of objects lying around. As the days progress, more items get added to this collection, and you must click on them in the order they appeared until they all start floating. The items have a mysterious and tranquil vibe to them, whether they be a jar of leaves, a gem, or even a photo.
Once the items are floating, a series of dots that look like stars in the distance appear. You make the dots disappear by connecting them with lines that you’ve drawn. There’s no right or wrong way to do this part as long as you draw through every dot without letting go of the mouse button. If you do let go, your lines vanish and you must start again. I liked how relaxing this section was because it lets you be creative and draw what comes to mind. In my case it tended to be random shapes and symbols, but there was something satisfying about it. I never planned out my movements, I just let my hand move on its own and whatever was created was perfect in my eyes. Clearing my mind in this way felt wonderful. As a reward, you are given a mantra for the day, offering insight into various aspects of life.
This is where your choice of the day comes in: a light shines from outside the pod, beckoning you to go outside. Upon exiting the pod, you see a meteor slowing flying by in the background as the music gets more tense. The meteor is on the collision course with Earth and you are the only means of stopping it. Do you use your power to protect the people who banished you to a life of solitude or do you stand idly by and let them suffer? If you choose to act, you can click on the meteor and direct it towards the top of the screen. If not, the meteor will smash into the Earth and the next time you load up the game, you’ll see some visible damage. The choice is yours and yours alone.
The aforementioned actions are the same gameplay loop for every day. It is definitely repetitive, but only in short bursts, it isn’t bad. Since you can be a protector one day but vengeful the next, the game acts as a sort of mood tracker. You may be feeling angry one day and decide to take it out on the inhabitants of Earth or you may even feel guilty about letting your rage get the better of you and attempt to make amends on another day. This aspect of the game is fascinating to me, especially since the game runs the course of the lunar cycle. It’s not only a reflective experience, but a poetic one as well.
The visuals and sound design are very simple, but so is the concept of the game as a whole. The game is entirely whites, blacks, and greys, which represents the middle of the road nature of the game. You aren’t told to be good or to be evil, you act according to your own thoughts and feelings. You can easily be on both ends of the spectrum and I liked that. The sound effects have a crinkly air to them, which matches the paper aesthetic of the world and everything in it. The music is equal parts peaceful and off-putting; that isn’t bad by any means, it’s just interesting to me.
All of that being said, Ritual of the Moon is very unique and is less of a game and more of an experience. Sure, there are some actions and decisions, but your feelings and mindset during your playtime is what’s most important. If you want action, adventure, or anything like that, then you’ll want to pass on this one. On the other hand, if you want something that encourages you to relax, clear your mind, and take a few minutes a day to put your mind at ease, then you’re in for a treat. Ritual of the Moon is a serene yet simplistic project that attempts to do something few games will, and it does quite a good job.
Ritual of the Moon
Ritual of the Moon is a reflection of life, tranquility, and choice that is more of an experience than a game. The paper aesthetic and color palette fit the tone perfectly. There's not much in terms of content, but the short bursts are nice each day.