I’ve played a few platformers over this past summer which have included the likes of a little candle’s journey into the darkness with Candleman (totally recommend!) to the more frightening and nightmarish world of Little Nightmares (also to be recommended!). Both those games required patience and some careful planning and executing of moves to get through to the next area. And as challenging as they were having to repeatedly die and retry before realising what you had to do, they were really enjoyable and satisfying to play. I guess you could also throw Limbo, Inside and Unravel (Loved!) into the same mix. They all offered a deep and rewarding journey for the player and a strong emotional sense of accomplishment once completed.
Planet Alpha falls very much into the same category of the above mentioned games.
Planet Alpha starts you off on what appears to be a bleak barren alien planet, one which could’ve resembled Mars with it’s red sand and very rocky surfaces. There’s not much in the way of instructions and a tutorial and your only option is to really press on forward. As you push on ahead a more vibrant lush and colourful world begins to unfold before your eyes.
It really is a visual treat to the eyes and really shows off what the latest hardware can do for this platform adventure. There’s so much detail in the different environments and it really is a living breathing world showing off vista after vista of gorgeous backdrops. Many times I just had to stop for a moment to take it all in. I especially love those weird alien space whales and the sounds they sing. It’s almost like chilling out to an episode of Blue Planet.
Unfortunately it appears that you and your space whale buddies are not alone as the planet is under attack by enemy robots. These guys will fire at first sight and ask questions never. You’ll have to avoid them by using your abilities to perhaps wait for foliage to bloom or grow to hide in, or use to get above and over them.
Most of these sections are more stealth based compared to the rest of the game, so you will have to practice approaching quietly and undetected. Thankfully should you die, a checkpoint is usually not too far away and there’s no penalty in retrying.
And retry you will.
One of the game’s mechanics has you changing the day cycle from day to night at any time you wish to do so. It isn’t explained why to begin with and you will gradually use it more and more as you go along. You’ll need to think about how best to use this when coming up against obstacles in your way. This living breathing world as stunning as it is, is also filled with many dangers that will stop you dead in your tracks. Perhaps you come to the edge of a cliff with no obvious way to get across; fast forward to night and wait for a luminescent mushroom or plant to grow and open up the path ahead of you. Deadly stinger bugs in your way? Again fast forward a moving floating piece of rock over to you so you can safely travel underneath it as it makes it’s way back in real time, preventing them from getting to you.
There’s plenty of running to be had with no end of levels really, so technically you could run through the entirety of the game without seeing a load screen or menu. You’ll slide down steep banks and jump off one after another at great speeds, sometimes having to avoid obstructions in your way. Later on the camera angles get a little more adventurous and really adds to the idea that you really have to run for your life. There’ll be plenty of climbing to do as you reach some dizzying heights to some really low depths. There’s also an element of exploring as there are usually a few different paths to go, and you’ll never know what you’ll find off the beaten track.
For their 100th game, Team17 have really excelled themselves with Planet Alpha. It is a beautifully inhabited world to experience and the audio is actually really out of this world. From the sounds of falling water, the wind blowing at heights and again the sounds of local wildlife (Alien.Space.Whales – but not like the kind in that Star Trek film in the 90’s…), Planet Alpha really does make you feel part of a living breathing environment. There are some little niggles with controls but you’ll soon get over them. Or you’ll die repeatedly from doing the same mistake over and over again, but that’s ok. Puzzles and stealth sections will frustrate but take a step back, and it soon becomes apparent what you’ll need to do.
The levels are wonderfully designed and although they seem long, it’s actually a short game which offers different endings for the player should you wish to run through it again and collect the missing artifacts. These can be found following completion of rotating platformed maze like levels within hidden away portals, which you can find along your travels and add more to the story of the game.
A review copy for Xbox One was provided for the purposes of this review (Thank You!).
You can view all of the achievements here.
And purchase the game for £15.99 on Xbox One here.
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- Looks Amazing! LUSH!
- Good Fun Platformer
- Sounds Out of this World
- Slight Control Niggles