Adelaide-based studio Orchid of Redemption has just released their magical golf-like platformer, Joon Shining, after 2-years on Steam Early Access. The game is one of the first of hopefully many Aussie games about to make their mark on 2023.
The game sees you play through sets of golf stages with the addition of extra whimsy and magic. The lovely backdrops set the scene as you tee off, attempting to putt your way into the hole at the end of the stage. Obstacles and boons litter each stage, as you begin to learn to manipulate the environment in order to hit your goals and claim great scores. At first, you’ll learn how to encourage the ball to continue rolling or even stop it mid-air, allowing the player to have far more control over the outcome of a putt. Utilising the game’s various stage setpieces you’ll also find yourself bouncing your ball off of bubbles or even setting it alight in order to remove obstacles in your path. In Joon Shining, it’s all about taking a look at your environment and paying attention to what you can influence for your own benefit. Growing new platforms and avoiding annoying creatures are just two additional skills you’ll learn as you progress through the eight worlds on offer.
The lush environments hide many secrets and interactions, meaning the first time you play through a stage, you’re unlikely to be fully equipped or have the knowledge base needed to perfect that level. Replaying levels and uncovering more details is great for those amongst us that are perfectionists, though many others may find some slight tedium in the constant resetting of levels and replaying of content in an attempt to succeed in the number of strokes they desire. The whole thing is set to a fairly loose storyline of rescuing dodos from extinction. And whilst playing, I never quite fully understood the relationship between the magical abilities, the dodos, and of course the golf stages. Though in its quick pick-up-and-play, arcade-style gameplay, Joon Shining never really needed that strength of narrative anyway.
The pace of the game feels correct as you slowly unlock new abilities and uncover new threats and obstacles. It’s tutorialised well enough to get you in and learning a decently complex set of mechanics and factors without ever overwhelming. The range of content is good too, with something new always ready to be showcased in the next stage or world. Occasionally Joon Shining struggles to maintain the level of tranquillity I believe it’s aiming for with its music and art, as the player battles against somewhat finicky movements and a camera that’s not always perfect. Although overall it’s hard to deny how accessible and easy-going the play experience is, with a quick hold of a button simply resetting you back to the beginning for another shot.
Joon Shining has officially launched and you can find it now on Steam. If you’re interested in a bit of magical fun, you can certainly do a lot worse than Joon Shining!