Game: Planet Alpha
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Planet Alpha ApS
Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd
Age Rating: 12+ (UK & EU) | T (US)
Price: £15.99 | €19,99| $19.99
Release Date: 4th September 2018
(The game is also available on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One)
Review Code kindly provided by Team17
Alpha Log Entry SC01:
I have found myself on a strange but wonderful planet; filled with amazing creatures of all shapes and sizes, plants even change form and have brilliantly vibrant colours – such an amazing sight to see. Somehow, I have also gained the ability to control the sun, but only in certain locations; further research and analysis will determine the full effects of this power. Furthermore, there has been a number of hostile beings that have been landing on this planet; are they after me or here to take over the planet? Either way, I think it would be best to avoid being seen; survival is everything…
Gameplay & Controls
Set on an alien world; Planet Alpha is a side-scrolling platformer filled with creatures (some friendly; others not so much), an abundance of plant life (some change form and colour at night) and there are even ruins of an unknown civilization (adding a sense of history to the world). You also seem to be in the middle of a planet invasion, as there are plenty of robotic hostiles landing on the planet (that shoot anything that moves). The game doesn’t really tell you a story as such; you just piece details together as you traverse through the alien planet.
During parts of your adventure, you will come to places that seem a bit of a dead end; however there are useful objects around that can be moved to reach higher platforms, open up new areas and even to hide behind in dangerous situations. Knowing what to do with them isn’t always obvious and they can be quite camouflaged – they bring a puzzle element to the game; making you stop and assess the situation, rather than just running and jumping through the world.
Stealth plays a key role in surviving the planet (no weapons available to use), so there are plenty of moments where patience and timing are necessary to survive. However, there are close calls when you are running for dear life; patience goes out the window and timing is important for a whole new reason. It’s a nice change of pace and stops the game from being all about sneaking around to survive – a good balance in my view.
Some enemies can be defeated, but timing is still (typically) important, as it usually involves the environment moving/changing.
If an attack hits the character; the colours of everything on screen fades (instead of having a health meter). It allows for a more immersive experience and the character recovers over time (when not being hit).
I have the power; let there be light!
A key aspect of Planet Alpha, is the ability to control the cycle of day and night to change the environment. Using the day/night to make the environment change to your advantage, adds another puzzle element to the game – sometimes the plants at night are more useful than the ones during the day (mainly for bridging gaps or hiding from hostiles).
The physics in the game are great; the momentum from moving objects can help propel you further when leaping/jumping while running. There are also locations with a different gravitational pull, so you get to float around a bit like an astronaut and leap further in all sorts of directions – it’s great fun and changes things up quite a bit in terms of movement.
Sadly there isn’t a multiplayer mode; it’s strictly single player. There is also no online functionality – neither are necessary features to have but multiplayer would of been fun.
Graphics, Designs & Soundtrack
Planet Alpha has a rather animated look to it’s graphics and design; very colourful with exaggerated proportions. The style keeps the game feeling lighthearted and balances out the obscure and slightly dark moments you come across.
The planet is brilliantly designed and filled with life – making for a very convincing and engaging world. The locations have a nice variety to them; one moment you are looking at a weird cave that looks like a giant face with it’s tongue hanging out, then you are over looking a field filled with grazing (dinosaur looking) aliens – the variety of areas is great and makes for a really interesting and fun adventure.
The sound track is more of a soundscape; works perfectly in making the world even more convincing and full of life. I make sure to use earphones while in handheld mode, or play at night when it’s quiet and peaceful; to really get into the game and the atmosphere. 😀
Looking at the Planet Alpha trailer (on Nintendo UK’s youtube channel), it’s another case of a different version of the game being used to promote the game (maybe PC version). The Switch version’s graphics aren’t a million miles away and aren’t drastically different – from what I have seen; just a few less assets and details in the background (hardly noticeable unless comparing).
The price seems consistent across the platforms – which is nice to see. Judging on the quality of the game and the length; £15.99 seems like a fair price for the game in my view. As always, the Switch version has the lovely added bonus of handheld mode, so you can happily play the game on the go. 😀
Planet Alpha is such a beautiful game; great locations, interesting creatures and the colours of the environments are brilliant at night! Such a great otherworldly experience.
From the first few moments of seeing the plants and alien life forms; I was excited and eager to progress and see what the game has to offer. There are locations that really come alive with plant life and alien life forms – some plants look like they may of been inspired by the film Avatar (which is nice). The more obscure and weird elements, I find intriguing and enjoy seeing as much as everything else. 😀
Seeing the world change in real time when controlling the sun is brilliant! 😀 It’s not the first game to allow the player to control whether it was day or night, but the way it’s implemented in Planet Alpha; is seamless and it’s great fun seeing the environment change on screen.
I like the weird and the wonderful aspects of the world as well as the fast paced, close call moments in between the slow and stealthy situations. The game has a very good balance; which helps make the experience all the more engaging and enjoyable.
I think it would be a lot of fun to play with a friend (with one player controlling the sun). It would make the stealth moments more challenging with some teamwork involved and the fast paced, near death moments all the more fun when both players are running for their (character’s) lives while leaping across gaps at full speed. Also, I find having moments of discovery in games, are more enjoyable when the experience is shared with a friend.
While saying that; I think the creators have done a great job in putting together such a fun and wonderful platforming experience. The last time I enjoyed a platformer this much was Trine 2 on the Wii U (very different setting and graphical style to Planet Alpha mind).
Certainly looking forward to any games Planet Alpha ApS make in the future; especially if it’s a sequel/prequel to this one.
Would I recommend Planet Alpha?
If you are looking for a single player, otherwordly platformer with puzzles and stealth elements; Planet Alpha is a game I very much recommend! 😀
I got the chance to try out Planet Alpha at PAX East earlier this year but I was holding out on picking up the full release for a little while longer. That said, your review was really convincing! I can’t wait to see what the game looks like on my Xbox One X
From what I have seen; it looks a little more gorgeous and has a higher framerate on Xbox One X (as expected really 😛 ). Hope you enjoy the game as much as I have! 😀