Planet Alpha Review (Xbox One)
I love when a game teaches you something that you never realized about yourself. And Planet Alpha taught me a lesson very quickly – I would be a horrible explorer. The utter confusion and disbelief while playing Planet Alpha has led me to believe that I would never make it if I ended up stranded on an alien world. Throughout my playthrough, I never got the sense that I understood everything that was happening. And this confusion led to many moments of awe and wonderment.
One of the many things that Planet Alpha does well is its ability to keep the player in a vague state of exploration. You wake up hurt on a strange, alien world. And as you begin to explore this rich, colorful world, you will notice that nothing makes a lot of sense. Strange beasts fly in the sky and protective bugs live underground. Dinosaur-like beasts roam and eat bizarre looking foliage. And remnants of an ancient civilization provide an intriguing, but unclear look at what life used to be.
Understand that this is not a knock on the game or the story. Rather, it gives you a more immersive experience. If you were in this situation, the answers would not be so clear. You would need to put things together clue by clue, and piece by piece. And as you play through Planet Alpha, you will be blown away by the sheer beauty and scope of the planet while also frustrated and confused. All of this is done visually without any dialogue or exposition. It’s a pretty impressive way to tell a story.
Any alien planet would be full of dangerous situations, and Planet Alpha is full of them thanks to an invasion from another species. I don’t want to give too much away in terms of plot, but these invaders are your primary source of danger. As you make your way across this planet, you will sneak and avoid these invaders. There are no weapons at your disposal, and you will be shot on sight.
In addition to sneaking, you will have the ability to control light and dark. This means you will be able to move the sun and moon to make day and night. Daytime and nighttime will bring out different types of plants or move things in the environment, like gigantic rock formations in the sky. This doesn’t always destroy the invaders but helps with evading them. Besides controlling the day/night cycle, you will have areas with tall plantlife that will hide your presence. But no matter what you do, the invaders are still pretty tough to sneak past. Timing and environmental help will help you make progress.
When you are not sneaking past enemies, then you are platforming over a large and potentially dangerous terrain. You will climb, jump, and slide all over Planet Alpha. The movement and platforming remind me of Prince of Persia, for better or worse. The platforming isn’t terribly difficult, but it takes a bit for your character to come to a complete stop. After you stop pressing the joystick, your character may take an extra step or two. This can be frustrating, especially if you have precision jumps to do or can’t stop fast enough to avoid detection from the enemy.
I mentioned it above, but the real winner is the art design. The environments are absolutely stunning and filled with beautiful colors. Various underground environments are also appropriately dark with a mix of bright-toned colors. Some caverns can be extremely dark, which adds to the planet’s beautiful yet dangerous environment. The creatures and plant life are all well designed. It is truly a beautiful game.
Planet Alpha is a beautiful visual experience. It conveys its story slowly and without dialogue, creating an experience that replicates what it would be like to crash land on an alien world. Gameplay mechanics work, but may not be as precise as you need in some situations. Overall, it’s an experience that I would recommend, especially if you want a challenging platformer.
Note: GameOctane editor Ryan Welch received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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