Lunar Lander: Beyond review

by on April 22, 2024
Release Date

April 23, 2024


When most people think of retro gaming they think of early Nintendo or Sega, but it doesn’t get much more retro than Atari. In recent years Atari have been taking some of their classic properties and modernising them just enough to appeal to gamers in 2024, like Kombinera, QOMP2 and the upcoming Yars Rising. To me, though, none of these are quite as exciting as the return of the careful spaceship piloting that Lunar Lander: Beyond brings to the table, which I can now confirm is just as fun and fiendishly difficult as ever.

As a new pilot for the Pegasus Corporation, your life is about as stressful as it gets. This megacorp provides deliveries all across the galaxy, but in order to keep costs low it barely pays its pilots enough to afford luxuries like oxygen and water. In this nightmarish (and slightly too familiar) capitalist hellscape it’s up to you to survive by piloting your ship efficiently enough to make enough money to live, and along the way you might even be able to help the people struggling in this terrible universe by banding together against the odds.

Lunar Lander Beyond

Each stage of Lunar Lander: Beyond tasks you with making your way through an obstacle course of hazards that a planet is made up of, and completing a few objectives before landing safely to go on to the next one. Precision movement is the name of the game here, with careful taps of your thrusters needed to counteract gravity and a constant threat of losing control of your momentum if you get a bit gung-ho. With limited fuel and a time pressure usually looming over you too, it doesn’t take long for the challenge of Lunar Lander to make itself known.

Thankfully you’ll soon unlock a few ship upgrades that can give you a fighting chance out there in space. The first of these is the stabilizer, which will slow your ship down until it hovers in place at the cost of some extra fuel. There’s also a shield which you can activate if you’re about to hit something to negate the damage (but which drains your fuel incredibly quickly) and a boost you can use to speed through stages or prevent any crashes by pointing in the other direction and activating it. There are over a dozen different upgrades to collect hidden throughout the missions of the game, but with the space to only equip three you’ll have to make some tough choices on which are most essential.

As well as different upgrades changing how you play the game, Lunar Lander: Beyond also features four different ships to add to your collection as you play through the story. The starting Beetle is exactly what I expected to be piloting when I started playing: a chunky little ship with tricky controls to master but that’s perfectly functional. The Dragonfly is totally different, with the ability to just move the stick where you want to go instead of having to manually turn the ship and activate your thrusters, but to compensate for how much easier this is it moves at a snail’s pace. The Spider is the exact opposite of this, moving so terrifyingly fast you’ll likely crash constantly unless you use your abilities to prevent that happening. Each stage is best suited for a specific ship, so it’s important to master them all.

Lunar Lander Beyond

If all Lunar Lander: Beyond brought to the table was arcadey spaceship obstacle courses I’d have still enjoyed my time with it, but alongside all this there’s also a system where you need to manage the mental stress of your pilots. When you crash in Lunar Lander there’s a good chance the ship won’t be damaged enough for it to cause an issue, but the stress of these incidents build up in your pilots. After enough crashes your pilots will start to lose their sanity, which leads to hallucinations, your map malfunctioning, and the DualSense adaptive triggers making your ship physically harder to control. The way that the stress affects your pilots is wild, and makes finishing a mission with a struggling deliveryman a nightmare.

Stress carries over between missions, so you’ll need to provide health care to your pilots if you want them to be useful in future missions. This is either done by giving them four missions off to receive free workplace therapy, or requires you to pay a whole lot of credits to instantly fix them with shock therapy. Each pilot gains experience and passive buffs (like taking less damage in crashes or being able to use certain abilities without using fuel) for completing missions, so deciding to bench them for a lower levelled pilot never feels good. I didn’t expect to have to manage mental health in a Lunar Lander game, but it’s such a cool addition.

Lunar Lander Beyond

All the interesting mechanics of Lunar Lander: Beyond are great, but without varied missions the game would suffer. This isn’t an issue here, though, with all manner of races, obstacle courses, and new hazards waiting for you on each of the game’s five planets. One of my favourite stages completely shook up the game, requiring you to collect power-ups that make your ship invincible so you could destroy meteors raining down on a settlement. Lunar Lander: Beyond throws new ideas at you thick and fast, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lunar Lander: Beyond only really has one issue that might put people off playing it, and that’s the difficulty. It doesn’t take long for the game to ramp up to some seriously tricky levels, and there were some which required me to play them repeatedly before finally succeeding. If that wasn’t enough for those hardcore few, there are higher difficulty levels which make the game harder by adding permadeath to your pilots and removing checkpoints. I can’t imagine playing this way, but some will doubtless relish the opportunity to be punished by the harder modes.

Lunar Lander: Beyond is a fantastic retro reimagining, with tense twitchy gameplay, a whole lot of variety, and some cool management elements. The stress system is fantastic, and adds an extra layer to what could’ve just been a less thoughtful arcade style game. As long as you can handle the difficulty Lunar Lander: Beyond is well worth playing, and if you have any Atari nostalgia then you’ll almost certainly adore it.


Tense and twitchy piloting gameplay
Loads of upgrades and new ships to unlock
Lots of variety in the missions
The stress system is incredibly cool


Will be too hard for some

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Lunar Lander: Beyond is a loving reimagining of the Atari classic, with some seriously cool mechanics and a whole lot of variety.