Published on April 1st, 2023 | by Gareth Newnham

Lunark Nintendo Switch Review @CanariGames @WayForward

Lunark Nintendo Switch Review @CanariGames @WayForward Gareth Newnham

Summary: Lunark is a carefully crafted flashback to the narrative platformers of the early-90s. With beautiful rotoscoped animation and a plot straight out of a Philip K Dick novel, it's one trip to another world well worth taking.


High tech low life

Canari Games’ Lunark takes me back to a simpler time when I was knee-high to a hollow cube before I knew why androids dream of electric sheep, and Space Cowboy wasn’t my dream job. 

A lovingly crafted homage to Delphine Game’s classic action platformer Flashback – A rotoscoped cyberpunk epic with the narrative chops of a Philip K Dick novella. Understated, ahead of its tim, and an essential game for anyone interested in the evolution of gaming as a narrative form. 

But how does Lunark stack up to such a classic? Really bloody well. 

Players take on the role of Leo, a courier living in a dystopian nightmare run by a sentient AI. While the rich and privileged live a life of luxury on the Lunark. Everyone else is stuck on terra firma eeking out an existence while ruled over by an oppressive regime of robots, that they’re also forced to build. 

After being drawn into a terrorist plot Leo goes on an adventure to discover the secrets of the Lunark and the shadowy cabal that controls it. Anyone with a love for the films of Paul Verhoven or classic cyberpunk is bound to have a great time with it. 

The presentation is also phenomenal, it looks and feels like a long-lost Amiga game. Everything about it screams high-tech and low-life. Its colour palette mix of bright neons and murky greys and greens is used to great effect to juxtapose the bright future promised by the Lunark compared to the reality that sees most left behind and living in slums or forced underground.

Meanwhile, the audio is also top-notch, mixing hefty sound effects, with the sort of ethereal synth-heavy soundtrack that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Blade Runner movie.

The real star of the show though are the rotoscoped cut scenes, you can tell Canari has thrown everything into them (quite literally if the game’s dev diaries are anything to go by). The level of care to accurately replicate a very particular time in gaming is admirable down to the slight pixelation of most of the game’s assets. It’s incredible work by a small team.   

Lunark’s controls closely resemble Flashback. From how Leo draws his gun, leaps over gaps and rolls to avoid incoming enemy fire. This is on one hand incredibly cool, but it also retains all of its issues. Namely, if you hit jump a little late Leo doesn’t jump over that lava pit but runs headlong into it. As such it takes a little getting used to.

Likewise, the combat feels like a weird greatest hits of rotoscoped platformers, with mines to jump over, gun fights against laser blaster-wielding bots, and a group of cybernetic swordsmen with move sets that feel distinctly Persian if you get what I mean. 

There’s also the occasional boss battle thrown in for good measure. But the cleverest fights in my mind are ones that involve punting missiles back at your enemies or shooting them out of the sky so they fall on unsuspecting drones below.   

On the plus side though, Checkpoints are fairly common, and the game remembers where you’ve moved platforms or solved puzzles so your next run is often a little easier. This is especially useful during some of the game’s more hectic chase sequences – although chances are you will still suffer the occasional cheap death. 

To help smooth out difficulty spikes common for this kind of game, Lunark employs a novel upgrade system which sees you complete optional puzzles to upgrade the power of your gun at kiosks and return shells to an indigenous alien that extends your health bar with the power of hugs, but make no mistake it’s still a challenging platformer.  


Lunark is a stylish, expertly crafted, love-letter to gaming’s early narrative evolution. If you can remember the likes of the original Prince of Persia and Flashback wholesale, or you’re a fan of handcrafted animation, cyberpunk, or just quality platformers in general be prepared to make reality a thing of the past.  

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