Game: Lifeless Planet Premiere Edition
Developer: Stage 2 Studios
Publisher: Serenity Forge
Age Rating:12+ (UK & EU) | T (US)
Price: £15.99 | €19,99| $19.99
Release Date: 6th Sept 2018
(The game is also available on Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Overall Feeling: I Like it!
Review Code generously provided by Serenity Forge
“In Lifeless Plant, the player must use wits and skill to solve puzzles, unravel the mystery, and survive the Lifeless Planet!”
Seeing the description of Lifeless Planet in the Nintendo eShop my interest was piqued. Being a Star Trek fan for almost 50 years now, I can safely say I like Sci-Fi stories. Not the horror stories like Alien or such, but I’m more partial to the exploration kind. I felt this might be the game for me!
After a hard landing on the planet they were heading for, the astronaut discovers the planet that was reported to be rich with life is instead a barren wasteland. They had been travelling faster then the speed of light and still were travelling for a long time in stasis. What happened here that changed the surface of the planet so much?
When he goes searching for his crew, he makes a more startling discovery: evidence that humans have already been to this planet years ago! When he comes upon a deserted Soviet-era Russian town, he struggles to make sense of his mission. Did his light-speed travel to the planet send him back in time? Or is this all some strange Cold War hoax? Until a mysterious young woman saves him from a strange and deadly phenomenon.
The Gameplay: no idea what to expect
When the game starts out, you hear an interview with our astronaut when he was still back on earth. Be sure to pay attention, as there are many clues to the eventual storyline in there. Not just that, but the voice of your astronaut will be your guide during the game.
You find yourself stranded in a sort of desert, your fellow astronauts are nowhere to be seen and you are in dire need of oxygen. Figure it out for yourself, as this game doesn’t hold your hand. But rest assured, the oxygen depleting is hardly ever a problem. Once it’s almost gone you will find a new supply soon.
Pretty soon you are on your way, taking guesses about where to go. Stumbling upon the Soviet-era village your find you first clue. Be sure to look everywhere for the log-entries in the form of a bright spot to learn more about the story. The log entries are voiced by our astronaut, the docs you find from the Russian settlers are voiced in Russian! It surprised me and I really liked that, very accurate to the storyline.
It’s clear there is a sort of path to follow, luckily. You start to get familiar with your abilities in jumping and moving things. The game is really good in making sure you have what you need to progress. When you find extra jetpack fuel, you can be sure there are some huge jumps to make. At first I was a bit scared to jump, but it’s like the game wants you to succeed. I’ve walked on ropes where I thought I would surely fall as I’m not so steady, but I did perfectly.
The Controls are so different
Normally I don’t often write in reviews about controls in a game, but these really surprised me. The main button here is the B button. To continue the game, to take any action. It takes some getting used to, I’m so used to using A!
The buttons control your jet-pack, which is essential, a mobile robotic arm comes in handy too. And most of all, thinking logically helps a lot to solve the puzzles.
As your spaceship lands you best make sure you are not playing the game in the train where lots of commuters are napping. The vibration made such a noise I almost dropped my Switch! In options you can disable Vibration which I quickly did.
There is an issue with the Switch version that really bugged me, at least when you play the game in handheld like I do. Even though I put the settings to “Brighten Dark Areas” I couldn’t see a thing in some areas. The landscape by night held no details for me, and at times I had to refer to a YouTube walkthrough to see where I should go.
Creating an atmosphere with the bare minimum
What makes Lifeless Planet so special is that when you don’t read up on it before playing, you really have no idea of what to expect. Will there be a monster behind that house you are heading to? Or are you close to an area of deadly poison? At the beginning, that made me progress slowly. Until it dawned on me this game really is about exploration. And about the story.
Looking back on the game, I must say it is a minimalist game. I’m used to exploration of the kind of Breath of the Wild, with lush environments and divers new scenery greeting me behind every mountain. That is not what you can expect from this game, which shouldn’t have surprised me based on the title: Lifeless Planet. Pretty much gives it away huh?
And with that in mind, I want to talk to you about the feeling this game evokes. This is a game that manages to create such a special atmosphere with so little. No other voices, no interaction with other characters. No fast paced battles, and even the scenery doesn’t change very much. It really is a dead planet. The soundtrack is awesome and enhances the mood beautifully.
It can feel a bit somber: is this what we are ultimately creating here on earth too? It even influenced my mood if I played it for hours. But the fact that I kept going is saying something too about how much I liked the game.
I almost gave Lifeless Planet an “I like it a Lot” because of the soundtrack, the great storyline, the exploration and the gameplay in general. The game wasn’t without a couple of glitches though (getting stuck behind a house, falling and coming back to life in the next area).
But the blundering around in the dark really were an issue for me. And comparing screen shots from the PC version and the Switch version shows how more colourful and detailed the PC version is. I talked about this with Serenity Forge, and it seems to be an issue with the handheld gameplay. You should be fine playing the game in the big screen, but I haven’t checked this myself.
I’m going to give it an I like it!