2020 is a massive year for gaming, with huge upcoming releases such as Final Fantasy VII Remake, DOOM Eternal, Cyberpunk 2070, and the next-gen consoles Xbox Series X, and PlayStation 5. While it’s exciting to look forward to all these titles and new generation hardware”,” that does not mean gamers should ignore smaller titles such as Journey to the Savage Planet.
Journey to the Savage Planet is an indie game developed by a Canadian based studio ”Typhoon” and is published by 505 games, the same folks who published last year’s sleeper hit, Control, and the upcoming PC version of Death Stranding.
Gameplay and Premise
Journey to the Savage Planet is a unique game that combines multiple elements from different genres, including first-person shooting mechanics, exploration, and crafting. The game is set on a planet called AR-26, where the employee (the player) work for the fourth best interstellar space exploration company and is tasked with exploring the planet and finding out what is happening after discovering an alien life-form and a massive structure.. Kindred gave the employee enough fuel source to land on AR-26, but not enough to travel back home, resulting in the employee being stranded while discovering the mysteries of the planet and looking for a fuel source.
The main storyline takes around five-to-six hours, or under four hours if players decide to speedrun it and go for the achievement, which is a fun challenge. As gamers progress throughout their journey across the four different biomes on the planet, they will come across many different types of alien creatures, some who are hostile and others who are more passive. At the beginning of the game, the main character has no traversal tools or even a gun, so the first 10-15 minutes features the introduction of the game’s mechanics.
The game has many different mechanics, such as having the ability to scan creatures, plant life, environments, alien structures, upgrade weapons, craft new sets of traversal tools, and collect crafting materials. There are also many challenges to achieve, secrets to find, and aliens to face. The game is loaded with a ton of logs and other forms of collectibles.
Majority of the gameplay will have players exploring the planet by many means of traversal tools, such as using thrusters to jump across wider gaps, using a grapple hook to swing across platforms, or climbing up mountains. The combat in the game is rudimentary; the game offers several upgrades to the employee’s gun, but for the most part it doesn’t add much and continues the point and shoot routine with no real variations. Players can also use bait to attract aliens to certain areas or have them be eaten by the meat vortex to open up a path to continue going forward. Bait may also be used to have aliens kill each other.
Defeated aliens can drop crafting materials, such as carbon and many others that are required to craft certain upgrades, gear, and tools throughout the journey. As the main character gets more improvements, they will be able to backtrack to certain areas of the planet that were not accessible before due to missing a specific upgrade or tool. Backtracking in the game is easy; as players explore the biomes they, will come across many teleportation devices that act as fast travel points. Gamers will also have access to the Javelin, which is their ship and base of operations.
Should the player-character die from a high fall or an alien bite to the face, they will respawn back at the Javelin and be forced to go back to where they originally died to pick up their loot box that contains all of the materials they’ve gathered during their last adventure. Once they pick up their loot box, they get everything back and can return to their Javelin to deposit their materials and not have to worry about dying again. If you’ve played any of the Dark Souls or Bloodborne then this mechanic will be familiar to you.
For the most part, gameplay can be fun, but it’s not for everybody. Some people will find it tedious and others will enjoy the exploration, collecting, and puzzle solving. It’s also worth noting that the game does feature a cooperative online experience. So if players are looking to play with their family or a good friend then both may jump into AR-26 and have a good time exploring.
The Style, Visuals and Technical Performance
Typhoon Studios made sure to make the game cute, quirky, and hilarious. The game contains real-life action footage that’s both funny and well-acted. As players progress, they will unlock new video clips to watch that are downright great in almost every aspect, though, the humor may not be for everybody, but that’s subjective.
The game uses Unreal Engine 4 to power up its visuals and art style. For the most part, the game looks vivid, but not amazing or anything that gamers haven’t already seen. It’s bright and colorful and will most likely attract a younger audience who enjoys running, looking at bright colors, doing random stuff, and meeting goofy-looking creatures.
The music in the game is fitting, but over time it will get repetitive and a bit annoying having to listen to the same looped combat track every time players get in a big fight or a combat arena. There is also no option to turn off or adjust music volume, which is extremely bizarre for a game that is released in 2020.
Journey to the Savage Planet is being reviewed on Xbox One X and it’s sad to report that it is not capable of running at 60 frames per second, and because of that, the movement in the game feels a bit sluggish, which can be an issue when looking for a smooth platforming and combat experience. The game does not really have high levels of geometry or complex particle effects, nor was there a mode to switch to 1080p/60fps, which is strange and a bit unusual considering it is on much lower fidelity when it comes to visuals and is instead carried by its colorful art style as opposed to technical prowess like Gears 5 or Red Dead Redemption 2.
It’s not a hideous game and does the job well. However if someone is looking to be blown away and seeking a super smooth 60 FPS experience then they will have to look elsewhere. The silly humor, quirky aliens, and colorful art style, however, carry the game and make it stand out across other indie titles and the plethora of the high-budget AAA titles.
The lack of visual performance on Xbox One X is disappointing, and missing fundamental options such as being able to adjust the music volume is also questionable. Also, the gameplay may not be for everyone either and may seem boring or repetitive to some after playing for a certain period of time.
Overall, Journey to the Savage Planet is a breath of fresh air for a market that’s saturated with battle royale games, FPS, third-person action, and many others. It’s an indie title that’s also priced at $29.99 and is not asking for the full price of $59.99. For the amount of money this game costs and for what it’s trying to achieve, it’s decent.
It won’t blow anyone away, but it will act as a decent morsel before the main course meals (Final Fantasy VII Remake or DOOM Eternal). Those who are open-minded and fine with playing a game that does not take itself too seriously—and is best played when they want to relax solo or just chill out with a co-op partner— will find it’s not a horrible purchase.