Journey to the Savage Planet – Review
PC, Xbox One, PS4
“Kill alien creatures and plunder resources for science!”
Crash landing on planet AR-Y 26, you set forth to explore the world with nothing but your wits and the spacesuit on your back. As an employee of the 4th best space exploration company, Kindred Aerospace, your mission is to survey AR-Y 26 to ascertain if it is fit for human habitation and send reports of your discoveries back to Earth. The catch is that you only had enough fuel to get you there; if you ever want to see Earth again, you will have to find a new fuel source as you explore AR-Y 26. Once the game takes you through the basics of movement and crafting you get your main objective to investigate the mysterious tower that dominates the landscape. From that point on it is entirely up to you how fast you get there.
Journey to the Savage Planet sucked me in very quickly. At its core, the game is all about the exploration of this alien planet and its various flora and fauna. Part of your mission is to scan and log just about everything you come across, from cute bird-like creatures to alien structures and exploding plants. To that end, you can spend a great deal of time just exploring the vibrant world that Typhoon Studios has managed to create. While I have managed to investigate the tower and know what awaits fellow explorers I am only at 71% completion after eight and a half hours of game time, with the rest expected to take a while as I try to find everything that I have yet to scan and find.
JTTSP is a very tongue in cheek commentary on capitalism, with your character having been sent to this distant planet in the cheapest way possible. Nothing beyond basic gear is provided to the player, while upgrades require searching for resources which in turn allow traversal across AR-Y26. To make matters worse, if you want to get back to Earth you’d also need to find the fuel required for the return trip. All this so Kindred Aerospace can reap the benefits of your hard work while at great risk to your personal safety. The almighty dollar is king, and since the company only has to pay you if you make it back to Earth, the less chance of that occurring means the greater the profits. Yay!
The satire is not confined to the evils of capitalism though, with the logs in your “Kindex” filled with humorous commentary on everything from animals to plants and the locations you visit. One of the things that I found annoying was that unlike most games when you brought up your journal the game world does not pause. Now obviously if I was exploring an alien planet filled with a bunch of things that are likely to kill me and I decided to check out my journal those same things would still be trying to kill me, however, it means that there are occasions where you miss exposition from your A.I. handler EKO and there is no log to go back and find out what was said. For the most part, it is not a major issue, however later in the game when you finally make it into the tower you only have the subtitles to understand the alien language that is being spoken while trying to stay alive as you fight almost all of the creatures you have encountered in your journey thus far.
As I mentioned earlier, I have yet to find everything hidden within the game. Part of this was the need to access secrets and previously unreachable areas, part of it is the lack of a map function to help you remember where things are. Fortunately the upgrades you can build once you have the resources to produce them makes accessing these areas far less complicated. You can also upgrade your scanner to highlight collectibles in the game world to make the search a bit easier, however, they are locked behind explorer ranks that require conditions to be met before they can be unlocked. Achieving the second explorer rank was something I was able to accomplish easily enough and it allows you to search out the alien alloys that are needed to craft all but the main upgrades or find the orange goo eggs that buff your health and stamina, but the third rank is locked behind challenges that require you to not only remember exactly where to go to find certain creatures but will also require a healthy dose of luck to pull off. It is a shame because the third level unlocks the ability to scan for the fuel you need to get back to Earth.
Overall JTTSP was a fun game that had me eagerly taking control of my unnamed explorer to further plumb the secrets AR-Y 26, and spend time just wandering around killing various alien creatures. Despite being a small indie developer that was only formed three years ago, Typhoon Studios have put out a game that is of wonderful quality with no graphical or technical issues that I have experienced. While I do have a few gripes about certain aspects of the game, overall it is a very successful first outing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find the fuel I need to get back to Earth and make those capitalist bastards pay me what I’m owed.
Journey to the Savage Planet was reviewed on PS4, with code provided by Double Jump PR