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Review: Journey to the Savage Planet
Journey to the Savage Planet Review
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Initially, Journey to the Savage Planet's eponymous planet AR-Y 26 doesn't seem at all savage. Indeed, it seems rather pleasant, inhabited by spherical doe-eyed bird-like creatures, called Puffbirds, that bounce around making little mewling noises, as well as strangely beautiful and exotic plant life. The worst a plant will do to you is alter your vision with psychedelic obfuscation, or drop glowing buds that replenish your vitality. But then, the further you venture into AR-Y 26's diverse ecosystem, the more fittingly savage things get, and the more enjoyably compelling Typhoon Studios' debut game becomes.

Marrying metroidvania exploration with rogue-like elements, Journey to the Savage Planet is a unique and uniquely humorous game, marooning you in the middle of an uncharted world (alone or with a co-op buddy) where everything is unknown until you scan it using your spacesuit helmet's visor. Scanning everything in sight becomes an essential and compulsive activity, as you attempt to suss out which of the planet's flora and fauna will prove beneficial – like the orange goo eggs that boost health and stamina – and which is intent on killing you dead.


Poor old Puffbirds. They can't defend themselves. Well, some of them can't.

As you progress, you'll obtain helpful tools, like volatile seeds that explode; others that are corrosive, imbued with the ability to melt large deposits of amber; and seeds charged with electricity that can be thrown to stun enemies or used to hold open doors that otherwise close on you when you approach. Inevitably, you'll end up murdering AR-Y 26's native animal life in order to gain valuable resources that can then be deposited into your crashed ship's 3D printer. These enable you to cobble together and upgrade various items like a handy thrust pack to reach higher areas; an energy-based grappling hook device that lets you zip between designated anchor points; or a handy, indispensable pistol.

With every new gadget or upgrade you obtain, further regions of AR-Y 26 become available, and, using a network of ancient alien teleportation devices, you can fast travel from pillar to post, as you strive to complete your mission at the behest of the Kindred Aerospace Company. Said mission involves determining whether the planet is suitable for human colonisation, before fuelling up and repairing your ship so that you can blast off and get the hell out of Dodge. Or you can tell Kindred to shove it, grab the fuel and go home.

Being the model Kindred employee isn't easy, and death at the claws and teeth of a hungry alien creature or a poorly-timed jump is all but assured. Should you unceremoniously kick the bucket (and in all probability you will, multiple times), your ship will hastily print out a new you, ensuring you can continue your mission without missing a beat. Should you die without dropping off the resources you've collected at your ship, you'll be required to go and pick them up, not unlike losing your Souls in Dark Souls.

Journey to the Savage Planet isn't a difficult game. Rather it's a joy to map out environments and make discoveries like some sort of spacefaring Magellan, before reporting back to your ship where you're rewarded with another brilliantly obnoxious and genuinely funny commercial piped onto the deck's TV screen. At certain junctures, a message from unhinged Kindred CEO Martin Tweed offers a status update, none of which offer assurance of any kind that your hapless spaceman will make it home safely. The tongue-in-cheek humour is darkly delicious.


Puffbirds often get in the way.

The game's core loop of butchering wildlife, harvesting carbon, silicon, aluminium, alien alloys and other materials, then heading back to your Javelin ship to 3D-print new items and upgrades, remains consistently entertaining. Boss encounters and battles against other hostile beasties generally consist of looking for glowing weak points to shoot, which might not sound particularly imaginative, but with the ability to throw cans of purple all-purpose foodstuff Grob to bait enemies, or chuck lurid pink binding fluid on the floor to hold enemies in place, combat is given an extra dimension.

Primarily, it's the metroidvania aspects of Journey to the Savage Planet that make it interesting, but it's the exploration, beautifully lurid colour palette, bizarre plant and animal life, and your mission to survey the myriad alien wonders that AR-Y 26 has to offer that'll keep you hooked. The off-the-wall humour is what really makes Journey to the Savage Planet memorable, while your conquest to chart a new planet for human habitation is imbued with a nice bit of satirical commentary on the lengths that corporations will go to in pursuit of wealth – even the '4th Best Interstellar Exploration Company' isn't shy of exploiting a planet and draining it dry.

An involving romp across a strange, alien environment with giant mushrooms, flying fish things, and one-eyed beasties, Journey to the Savage Planet can be a slightly repetitive affair at times, but the wealth of gadgets, metroidvania traversal options, and wilfully daft moments of humour pull it through. Solo exploration is great fun, but play Journey to the Savage Planet in co-op with a friend, and you'll have even more of a blast messing up AR-Y 26's delicate ecosystem together. Adventure awaits, spaceman!

 

Neat ditties and wonderful live-action comic performances, the sound effects too are typically sci-fi. Lovely.

Bright, beautiful and diverse with only the tiniest hint of (mercifully rare) frame-rate lag. A bold, good-looking game.

The more you play, the more enjoyable Journey to the Savage Planet becomes. As a voyage of discovery, before 'effing it all up, Savage Planet is great fun.

A good 10-15 hours of scanning, shooting, searching for hidden nooks, traversing caves, mountains and more. You can speedrun it in less than four hours, though.

An enjoyable, solid list with the perfect combination of tricky tasks, collectible bits to seek out, and funny stuff. Good spread too.

Alone or with a friend, life as an explorer for Kindred Aerospace is dangerous, but it's also a lot more enjoyable than it should be. Journey to the Savage Planet is good, clean, planet colonising fun.

 
 
 
Game Info
Developer:
Typhoon Studios
Publisher:
505 Games
Genre:

Release:

US January 28, 2020
Europe January 28, 2020
Japan June 11, 2020

Players: 1
Online Players : 2
ESRB: Teen
Collection:24
Wishlist:10
 
 
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