A mesmerising world plagued by irritating robots
It’s rare that we’re so wowed by a game that we’re sold on its looks alone, but this explorative platformer manages to do just that. Unfortunately it’s all looks and little substance. Finding yourself injured and stranded on a strange planet, you’ll need to run and puzzle your way through a series of absolutely gorgeous zones full of lush foliage and luminous mushrooms while unravelling a sinister mystery that unfolds around you.
There’s zero explanation as to why you’re there, all of the storytelling is done through the environment. The mystery of how you came to be here and why the planet is being invaded by aggressive robots constantly pulls you forward. The moment where they land and start firing is expertly done: the sky darkens, the music shifts and the majestic beasts around you start falling to their deaths. It’s distressing even though most of it is happening in the background behind you – nothing needs to be said to keep your interest in the plot going.
Instead you explore by platforming and puzzling your way through a serious of mysterious and beautiful environments, from lush forests to caverns full of insects and even an alternate dimension. The puzzles usually involve pushing and pulling blocks and timing your movements to avoid roaming robots and other enemies. Platforming sections start simple but get quite fiddly the further in you go, with moving sections that require precise jumps to complete. Occasionally you’ll need to sneak past the invading robots, hiding behind shrubs or blocks. The day/night cycle can also be used to your advantage as certain plant types will only grow at particular times of day, creating platforms or things to hide behind.
Unfortunately we encountered several progress-ruining bugs during our playthrough – first, a giant skull fell at an awkward angle after crushing some robots and blocked the path instead of settling down neatly. We had to restart the section again to get past it. Later on we got stuck in a climbable vine part-way through a tricky moving platform section, unable to get up or down it, losing a fair bit of progress to reset it. We’ve been told it will be fixed in a later patch but between this and the trigger-happy metal men roaming around, it gets quite frustrating being mentally pulled out of the world.
It’s a shame because the design is fantastic, but the threat balance is off so you end up dying far more than you’d like and in some surprisingly unfair ways. Enemies will kill you almost instantly and there are very few places to hide, so instead of finding a spot to recover and continue it’s death and jarring restarts for you. It turns certain sections into complete trial and error as you’ll often be slaughtered before you get a chance to fully scope out what a puzzle entails. Sometimes you’ll have the solution but it’ll be sheer luck whether it succeeds or not because one robot or insects patrol pattern is ever so slightly different, or a jump you made previously doesn’t catch this time, causing you to be killed and fail. The soundtrack paired with Planet
Alpha’s visual style make for one of the most luscious sci-fi worlds we’ve ever seen and we’d love to see more done in the same style, but with so many issues, all of that work is completely undone. Hopefully with a few more patches and rebalancing its issues can be fixed, but for now it’s difficult to fully recommend.
“It’s one of the most luscious sci-fi worlds we’ve ever seen”
left Night is just as gorgeous as day, being full of glowing plant life.