Children of the Sun Review

Sniper games have always had a puzzle-like nature. Watch for patterns in patrols, determine the order in which you should take out your targets, and anticipate when your current target will be isolated – when you shoot is just as important as how you shoot. The developer behind Children of the Sun, René Rother, undoubtedly saw this connection and was inspired to create a game that put those puzzle elements at the forefront. Not only that, he made picking your shots even more challenging by limiting you to one bullet in each level.

The unique gameplay conceit in Children of the Sun is wrapped in a unique story and presentation as well. You are a young woman who lost her family when they became involved with the titular cult, and will exact your revenge by taking down every last goon, enforcer, and leader running the cult. The entire game has the look of an underground graphic novel, and the story is conveyed through short sequences of minimally animated scenes that fit perfectly with its aesthetic. Don’t expect a deep story here, but you will definitely learn why the cult has done your family wrong and why they must die for it.


Children of the Sun Review Hero

Unlike most sniper shooters, you’re not in danger of being caught or shot in this game – success or failure is entirely predicated on whether or not you can take out all enemies in the level with that single bullet. Before you take your one and only shot, you can circle around the perimeter of the level as if you’re on a rail, marking your targets and noting anything else you can shoot before you decide where and when to take your shot. The game will let you know how many targets that you need to eliminate to complete each level and you’re free to take as long as you need to locate them all. As you progress through the game it can be harder to locate all of your targets, especially when the levels begin to feature buildings with enemies hidden somewhere inside. Often you may need to intentionally fail a level, using the bullet as a scout since the camera follows it as it leaves your gun and moves until it hits an object or passes beyond the bounds of the level.

Now you don’t need to sit and wait patiently for every one of your targets to eventually line themselves up in row – you have the kind of bullet that would send Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists into a fever state. Whenever your bullet strikes something, you can take control of it and change its angle. Hit one cultist and they you can steer the bullet 90 degrees to the right to hit the next. In addition, there are a number of things in the environment that can be used as an opportunity to redirect your bullet such as birds passing overhead. Other objects have secondary effects as well – using a car’s gas tank or a propane canister as a deflecting point will give you bonus damage from explosive fire. Deeper into the game you’ll also gain additional control of the bullet in cases in which you manage to hit the right shot to initiate the bonus control.

Once you complete a level, the game will provide you with an overview of your bullet’s trajectory and score your performance. There are leaderboards for each level, and you’re free to replay them at any time in attempt to better your score and ranking. Points are determined by a number of factors, form how long it took you to complete a level to where your bullet struck each enemy. It wouldn’t be a sniper game if you weren’t credited for headshots, right?


Exploding car

The later levels begin to rely a little too much on the additional bullet control mechanisms, and I have to say that I found the controls for these advanced maneuvers to be a little less responsive than I would have liked. Not a game breaker, but it was frustrating to have to replay levels because the bullet sailed off-map while I was trying to get the button presses to register to turn it around.

I enjoyed the game’s atmosphere, visuals, and distinctive gameplay style. I do think that the game would have been a bit better if it didn’t try to introduce new, more complex bullet controls in the later levels – I would have enjoyed making my way through the game with just the fundamentals. There would have been more an emphasis on planning and a little less on tricky controller combos. I don’t want this to discourage you from giving the game a try, though. It is a rather unique experience, and even if the later levels prove a bit of a trial, replaying many of the game’s levels in an attempt to find the perfect plan that will push you higher in the leaderboards is in and of itself quite enjoyable.

Final Rating: 85% - Puzzle gamers, take your best shot at this one.

 

Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.