What would it feel like to be trapped in a nightmare, unable to wake up? Even worse, what if you couldn't tell if you were ever actually asleep? That's the sort of fear players must face in Moons of Madness. The game is a slow burn, but as things start to fall apart on the station, the tension and suspense ramp up quickly. Before long, you're crawling through dark air ducts unarmed, with a tentacled creature breathing down your neck. But is the threat real, or simply a hallucination caused by the stress and hazards of being isolated on a barren planet? That's what makes it such a unique experience. Even after you feel sure about what you're dealing with as it appears in the real world, you can't help but wonder if your mind has already been shattered by the forces lined up against you. Was that monster you saw out of the corner of your eye real, or was it an adrenaline-fueled figment of your terror-induced paranoia? Either way, you'd best find a way to snap out of it before it costs the lives of yourself, your co-workers, and everything you hold dear.
Gameplay in Moons of Madness is relatively cut and dry. It's a survival horror game by definition because, yes, there's a lot of horror going on and you're definitely trying to survive, but it lacks the shoot-'em-up action of games like, say, Resident Evil or Dead Space. Instead, you've got to navigate the base with certain key objectives meant to move the story along. It's standard adventure game fare here, with fetch quests and puzzle solving, like finding a crowbar to open a door or calibrating water purifiers scattered around a hydroponics lab. There's a lot of back and forth as you navigate the base and the surrounding Martian environment, and the pace can slow down quite a bit at times. But there's always the lingering sense that things are building up to something really bad happening at any moment. And when it does, the payoff tends to deliver in terrifying fashion that sticks with you.