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Amazon Luna Hands On: Almost Spotless 2021

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Key Takeaways

Amazon Luna offers a unique way to approach cloud gaming.Multiple channels allow you to pick and choose the kinds of games you want to play.Gaming on Luna feels smooth. Amazon

It's like Netflix, but for video games. 

That's the easiest way to explain what Amazon Luna is. While it hasn't hit all the nails required for that statement to be wholly true, it's as close as cloud gaming has managed to get, and there have been more than a few tries along the way.

Available in limited access right now, Luna is easily one of the smoothest experiences I've ever had in cloud gaming. The UI of the application, the ease of launching into a game, and the overall performance just melds together into a smooth run of things. Being able to easily sort through games and even add them to a playlist just helps make everything work more seamlessly, which really gives off more of those Netflix vibes that every other cloud gaming software has been trying to hit.

Easy Does It

I have a perfectly capable PC, but that hasn't stopped me from being intrigued by the idea of cloud gaming. Having tried services like OnLive back when it was a thing, new options like Google Stadia and Nvidia's GeForce Now service, and even free apps like Rainway, discovering different ways to play games in the cloud has been interesting. While these options have had their perks—like Rainway being completely free and available on Android, iOS, and even Roku and Apple TV—none have come so close to hitting the vision as Luna.

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The application is extremely easy to use. Upon loading it, you can navigate through a ton of different lists, similar to how you'd look through TV shows and movies on Netflix or other streaming services. It didn't take me long to find the first game I wanted to try, and within seconds I was walking through the first cutscenes in Control. This graphically intensive game played smoothly through Luna. I didn't notice any hiccups or FPS drops, and images looked much better than many of the games I'd tested on Google Stadia. There were some instances of input lag when playing with my keyboard and mouse, though it wasn't nearly as bad as the input lag I've had when playing games like Destiny 2 or Marvel's The Avengers on Stadia. 

My favorite feature, though, was being able to simply type in keywords like "shooters" or "racing" and have a slew of options for games pop up. This made it extremely easy to find new games to check out without having to go through the entire catalog.

Above the Crowd

What makes Amazon Luna stand out so much is the fact that it just works. Everything from searching to playing the games—it just feels smooth.

"Images looked much better than many of the games I'd tested out on Google Stadia."

I loaded The Surge and started making my way through the opening of the game. As a Souls-like type of game, hitting those perfectly timed button presses and dodging attacks is extremely difficult even without the worry of input lag, which often comes with cloud gaming. Somehow Luna managed to handle it really well, though, and while I did stumble a few times, it was mostly because of my own incompetence as a player, not the service itself. Now, that isn't to say there isn't input lag, because there is. There's just no way around it. But, the input lag on Luna is hands down far less than it is on Stadia and GeForce Now.

To be fair, Amazon Luna isn't quite the Netflix of video games yet, simply because there is still a lot of room for improvement. More games and channels, as well as even further reduction in input lag, would be great. It can also be difficult to navigate to the service from the Amazon website, as it's layered under multiple clicks. When it comes to cloud gaming, though, Luna is the best that I've ever tried, and with it still in early access, Amazon has a lot of wiggle room to make it even better.