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Joon Shining Review

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

Genre: Platformer | Sports

Modes: Single player | Multiplayer

Developed by: Orchid of Redemption

Published by: Lamplight Forest

Original release date: February 2023

Platforms: PC, Mac OS and Linux

Platform I played on: PC

Thanks to Orchid of Redemption and Lamplight Forest for the review code

Another thank you to Alex from the IndiEXP as well

 

Joon Shining is developed by another Adelaide based (woohoo!) studio, Orchid of Redemption, and published by parent company Lamplight Forest. After a long two years in Early Access, Joon Shining finally made it's way on Steam with Version 1.0 on February 17! What had originally started as an experiment for the team, getting to this point and releasing a fleshed out game was more than they could imagine. As you can expect, everyone who worked on the game is thrilled and honestly, they should be proud. Joon Shining is an excellent platformer that exceeded my expectations, and something I enjoyed even more than I had thought. Why? Well, let's.. swing into it.


Hold on to your putts

For a bit of context, as I mentioned in my previous Rooftop Renegade review, I don't play a tonne of platformers, or at least I don't always go out of my way to play them. The only platformer I think I can say I've gone out of my way to complete to 100+% or close to is Crash Bandicoot (1, Cortex Strikes Back, Warped and It's About Time). So, yeah I do play platformers on some occasion, but it's not my absolute go-to genre. With that out of the way, let's begin;


Joon Shining is an innovative, challenging, golf-like fantasy platformer title that follows a young sorceress, Joon, that must travel to 8 mythical worlds in an attempt to save Dodos from extinction. As a sorceress with magic, Joon is able to manipulate the ball in ~magical~ ways. Throughout your journey to save the Dodos, you'll burn obstacles out of the way, fly through magic rings to gain air, and enjoy the view when you finally get the ball in! Or enjoy the view and then watch the ball miss the hole and then doing it again.. and again - but hey, it's for the Dodos. The story itself is distinctive, and a breath of fresh air to play something a bit different to what I normally would. I've enjoyed my time with the game, and adding a golf twist to it was a brilliant idea. I think, had this game been a usual platformer, I don't think it could quite capture the charm it has going for it. Kudos to the team for making something different, that somehow worked perfectly.



FORE!

The gameplay itself is fun, albeit slightly frustrating at times, but that's the whole point as it's physics based. Gotta get that timing right to the second! The game gives you difficulty options you can pick from before you start, as well as the option to play with either keyboard or controller. As per usual, I played this with my Xbox controller as I always prefer playing with a controller on PC.


The controls are genuinely simple to use and pick up on. However using them during gameplay is where things can get tricky. You'll use A or space to hit the ball, D pad or Q/E for fine-tune aiming, Left stick or S to brake the ball and RT or Shift to grow platforms (when it has a double-ring on it). Aside from that, there's also quick restart level button to instead of clicking into the menu (Y or R for 2 sec) and even being able to free view look the entire map (Click in right stick or X) and zooming out (RB or F). Being able to look at the entire map easily is probably one of my highlights for this game. I can't tell you how many times I had to use it so I could find where the putt hole was. Some putt holes are obvious to see, but some kind of blend into the environment that is easy to miss on a quick glance. Plus, not all putt holes are where you think they would be. Tip: use this feature!


The game does provide a bit of a challenge even in the first few levels - but it's fair, and it kept me playing for a while longer. If you're someone who enjoys a unique game and challenge, this may be the next game for you to swing into. (I'm sorry not sorry about the puns)


While using your magic skills to manipulate the ball, you'll also notice that you can hit the ball pretty much anywhere in the environment. This can be used to your advantage or, well, as I found out a few times, disadvantage. For example, you can grow plants into platforms, intentionally catching yourself on fire to burn an obstacle down (such as a plant), letting the ball roll instead of manipulating it, or just swinging the ball and see where it goes - hey, you never know, some trick shots might work.



What's also cool is that this game offers more than just hitting it against a block or tree. Each environment has it's own magic possibilities, secrets and tricky hazards to keep things fresh as you progress the game. For instance, in one of the worlds you'll be underwater/have large water based areas. With this, physics will be slightly off due to the water, so you'll have to adapt if you want to progress.

Here, you'll also come across such instances as jelly-like walls, giant bubbles to bounce on (or down) and there's even some elements you can use to propel yourself up further. Of course, all of these will have it's pros and cons, so it'll be up to you to figure out the physics to get closer to the putt hole!


In a more recent update, the game now allows you to skip levels. However, you still have to collect a certain amount of mage drops to get into the next world. You'll come across these mage drops throughout the levels. They're easy to spot, but can sometimes be difficult to get to. You can also see how many you've collected in the top right corner. Kudos to whoever gets all 100!


Whether it's in an underwater lagoon or above the clouds, Joon Shining also provides aesthetically pleasing visuals as you play, which leads into the next part of this review;

The art of fantasy golf

The art design for Joon Shining is impressive, and as mentioned visually pleasing to look at. With it's lush beautiful, bright worlds filled with forests to underwater lagoons, and floating clouds, I think players will be certainty pleased. Each world is unique with not only it's colour palette, but as well as weather changes and time of day/night. Enjoy the vibrant greenery in the daylight to a beautiful night sky purple that looks out of this world (literally). The graphics on my end looked fantastic with no glaring frame rate, or any other major issues that I noticed.

Delightful greenery as you endure your next challenge

Yarr golf on a shipwreck


Soundtrack

Angus Barnacle crafted 13 wonderful tracks to go alongside this fantasy twist on golfing to save a species. Within these tracks includes expressive instruments that reflect the developing narrative within the game, and even going as far as evoking on the sound of 17th century whistles that may have been used when Dodos weren't extinct yet. From the sound of shell horns to an out of tune fork piano, Joon Shining's soundtrack was clearly created with immense care to reflect on the core theme of the game, while weaving it in perfectly with each level.

Glitches | Bugs | Issues

I came across two minor glitches/issues. In one instance I couldn't hit the ball. At first I thought it was because I might have been accidently pressing on something else by accident, but it was just the game not allowing me to hit it. From memory, I believe I just reset the level (I wasn't that far in anyway but still slightly frustrating) and it didn't happen again after that. A second issue I ran into was while testing out the skip level feature, and the game was stuck on the end level outro stat screen. This only happened to me twice where I had to exit the came then resume, but after a third time there were no issues. Also, the game loads fairly quickly so it didn't take up too much of my time, so there's that.


Other than that, it's a fairly polished game from my end. Of course, as I always say in each of my reviews, that isn't to say there aren't any issues, but so far nothing too game breaking that I've come across personally.

Length | Replay ability

You can expect around 15-20 hours of golfin' gameplay, but of course this will depend on your playstyle and how well your physics is. If you're an achievement hunter, good luck, there are 12 achievements to collect. Basically, just make sure you're the best magic golfer because you'll likely be playing this one for a while longer. I can definitely say that I won't be going for these achievements, as I personally don't have the persistence or time, but there's definitely a specific type of player who will take on this challenge.


Conclusion

Overall the game delivers a innovative distinctive journey, unlike anything I've played before. From it's smooth gameplay to unravelling the narrative the more you play, I think can safely say there's a lot for specific players to enjoy hours on end. I'm incredibly impressed with the team for making this into a full game with a story, and much improved gameplay since early access days.


I can easily recommend this title if you're looking for the next platformer to get into, especially if platformers are your jam. If you're someone that doesn't enjoy platformers, or physics based games that requires a bit of time and patience, then this likely won't be a game for you. If you're someone like me who plays platformers on the occasion, and doesn't mind spending a bit of time with it, I think it's still worth checking out. It can feel a little bit tedious and frustrating at times, but players can be assured it certainly delivers on it's promise of a challenge for hours on end.


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