The best $5 you’ll spend on gaming in 2022

There are few cheap, decent platformers out there, especially if you’re venturing into sub-$10 territory. But here we are, at the end of 2022, and a game selling for just $5 doesn’t just buck the usual trend – it offers one of the best indie games of the year.

Lunics is a blindsider: an absolute gem of a game that takes its clues from Sonic the Hedgehog, Nights in dreams, Spyro the Dragon, and other golden era PS1 and Saturn titles with aplomb. Lunics not only manages to showcase what made groundbreaking 3D platforming so good, it underlines how timeless the format is by subtly adapting the decades-old formula to modern expectations.

As the creation of solo developer A Grumpy Fox, AKA Twitch streamer Deke64, Lunics is as easy as platformers get. You play the role of Hana the Tanuki and traverse seven linear dreamscapes to reach the moon, because why not. You’ll collect paper cranes, defeat enemies, explore increasingly tricky alternate paths, and generally marvel at the beautiful scenery around you.

Lunics is so good because it’s so damn simple. The barely-there story is enough to bring the world to life without getting in your way. Movement is limited to jumping, attacking and walking. The visuals are perfectly smooth and have a color scheme that’s bright and familiar, but without ever being garish.

Like its art style, the controls feel almost instinctive to platform gaming veterans, reflecting the best styles of its predecessors. Remarkably tight movement is combined with a responsive camera, but there’s just enough slack to reward skill, especially in jump sections with tighter landing targets. You will make mistakes, but you will never feel punished for them – you will either rightfully blame yourself or shrug your shoulders because of Lunicsfocus on performance.

Instead of the classic life format, Lunics uses checkpoints and restarts, essentially giving you unlimited attempts to clear a level. At the end of each level, you’re graded based on the number of resets and the time it takes you to complete them, using a speedrun-lite format that allows levels to be replayed instantly; this is accompanied by a number of other incentives to perfect your runs.

Lunics‘s core collection mechanic comes from its 100+ taps in each level, but there are also four additional routes to explore that will see you collect the letters of your name – a system that unlocks the true ending of the game, and a side mission that you must complete be more and more vigilant, as these trails become less visible the further you go.

The further you delve into Lunics‘s an hour or so long main story – two or three hours, if you’re a perfectionist while you’re at it – the more new mechanics are introduced, again combining familiarity and clear influences with simple yet satisfying execution. All the while, the soundtrack is nothing short of excellent – consistently glorious songs that never fail to lift your mood. Once you clear it, new characters become available with their own abilities. Awesome.

for five dollars, Lunics is nothing short of a must-buy. Aside from subscription models like Game Pass, it’s arguably the best value for money in gaming in 2022 – an experience that will have you grinning like a buffoon, whether it’s out of nostalgia, satisfaction, a strange sense of calm, or all three at once.

Leave a Comment