A Quirky Sci-Fi Explorer – Journey To The Savage Planet Review

Intro:

Typhoon studios, a previously unheard of group of developers have now garnered the interest of hundreds of thousands of people, myself included, with their new open-world adventure game; Journey To The Savage Planet. Released a few months ago on the 28th of January, 2020, this well esteemed game was an absolute blast to review. 

Gameplay:

It shares a similar gaming experience to other, already well established space-explorers such as No Mans Sky and Astroneer. Yet it has a certain charm that I’ve never seen from any other game before. At its core, it can be described as a huge rescue mission project, as you, the character are stranded on a completely foreign planet named AR-Y 26 (Elon Musk don’t get any ideas) and are tasked with repairing your spaceship so you can safely return back home. While you undergo this repair mission, you are also able to activate teleporters, collect materials, explore the foreign landscapes, unlock upgrades and tools that will drastically change the way you play this game. From grappling hooks to magnetic rails, this game provides you with far more than just running and jumping.

This game encourages and rewards you to explore, as doing so can lead to you finding new materials, discovering new creatures, and finding these orange blob-like substances that upon consumption increase your stamina and max health. 

Upgrades in this game are also very meaningful, because they drastically change the way you play. As mentioned above, items such as the grappling hook unlock new areas of the environment that were previously inaccessible. Furthermore, specific upgrades allow you to build-up and maintain momentum, allowing you to virtually skip across the expansive map at breathtaking speeds. 

Aside from actual gameplay, the game also has some quirky upgrade names such as the ‘bombergrate booster’ and the ‘precious stuff magnet’. Furthermore, your friendly part-time AI robot assistant, part-time game narrator has quite the personality. Her name is E.K.O and she speaks almost entirely in satire, making deaths hurt a little less and achievements feel less gratifying. She reminds me a lot of Karen, Plankton’s robot wife. All of these details make you feel less alone in this remote world. 

Finally, one of my favourite aspects of this game by far are the boss fights. They’re far more intuitive than just dodging and firing. Each boss has weakpoints that you must shoot to damage it. As you progress, accessing those weakpoints becomes tougher and requires more steps. On top of this, the boss stages are never flat, there are always some form of floating platform that gives the encounter vertical aspects. All of the bosses also have phases, and they become faster, and introduce new, more lethal attacks as you progress through the stages. Altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed the legendary fights that this game presented and was pleased to see that each boss, aside from looking unique, had its own style and theme.

My only gripe for the gameplay would be some of the mechanics. Specifically, the sideways dodge and ADS are a bit finicky and don’t always work when you push their respective keys. While in the grand scheme of things, this is a rather inconsequential issue, during intense fights and other crucial moments, having them fail on you can be quite frustrating.

Graphics:

Right off the bat, this game looks absolutely gorgeous. The environments are meticulously crafted and each area has its own little theme. The amount of effort put in to build such a bustling and beautiful environment filled with vegetation and fauna seriously has to be commended. Each area has its own general colour scheme that ranges from pink and green to brown and purple to red and black.

I also loved the creature models. They were so diverse and alien-like, and really help sell the fact that this is a foreign planet that you are stuck on. There were other miniscule details such as shiny and glowing foliage that made various objects feel extraterrestrial. 

All in all, Typhoon Studios have mastered the graphics aspect of the game, as they made all the right choices, from the vivid colour schemes to the bizarre creature models.

Controls + Optimisation:

Here again there isn’t much to complain about, or mention for that matter. The controls were average, and what you would expect for such a game. While there are a lot of keys that you must keep note of, which for me got quite overwhelming initially, after using them for a couple of hours it was smooth sailing.

Of course, all keys can be re-bound to your preference.

As for the optimization, well the game is quite taxing. Mid-tier systems should be able to push 60 FPS on medium to high graphics. I was just about scraping the 100 FPS mark on max graphics when my surroundings were fairly calm. Although during intense situations throughout the game such as the boss battles, I dipped to about 70 FPS.

Thankfully, there were no frame stutters, and the game overall ran quite smoothly.

Verdict:

Journey to The Savage Planet has a perfect amount of puzzle, action and exploration to prevent the game from becoming repetitive. This game provides you with a plethora of things to do aside from all the quests, and it also lets you play at your own pace, which makes for a relaxing experience at times, until you reach a boss fight. All of the elements in this game are well balanced.
Upgrades especially have real incentive for you to grind the materials to unlock them, as they completely alter certain aspects of the game. Grappling, if it wasn’t obvious already, is my favourite attribute. It feels incredibly liberating to spend time in the air, soaring through islands at breakneck pace.

Therefore, if you’re in need of a recent open-world explorer with some gorgeous, foreign environments then you’re in luck, so long as you can live past the semi-functional ADS and dodging features.

It certainly scratched my itch for a good expedition game since it’s been a while since I last played such a genre. However, for those who play such games regularly, this may not be distinct enough to scratch yours.

Final Score: 8.5/10

(Extra points for the hilarious kicking mechanic)

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