JOUR­NEY TO THE SAVAGE PLANET

As­tro­nauts needed, no ex­pe­ri­ence nec­es­sary

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - Adam Bryant

Pub­lisher 505 Games De­vel­oper Typhoon Stu­dios ETA 2020

Ex­plor­ing the vast­ness of space is no trifling mat­ter – it de­mands pre­cise skill, ex­pert knowl­edge, and the very best of equip­ment. Well, nor­mally at least. Jour­ney To The Savage Planet dares to ask the question, what if a rank am­a­teur set out for the stars with noth­ing but a head full of dreams, a pocket full of hope and the back­ing of the world’s fourth best in­ter­stel­lar ex­plo­ration com­pany?

The an­swer is, er, die a lot. This first-per­son sur­vival ad­ven­ture tasks you with ex­plor­ing a colour­ful, bizarre and, yes, deadly alien world. But far from feel­ing pun­ish­ing, a comedic spirit turns ev­ery death into a punch­line, af­ter which you sim­ply re­form back on your ram­shackle ship.

It’s the de­but of Typhoon Stu­dios, a small team of 24 devs who all hail from pres­ti­gious triple-A back­grounds. The cre­ative di­rec­tor Alex Hutchin­son, for ex­am­ple, pre­vi­ously led the way on As­sas­sin’s Creed 3 and Far Cry 4, and oth­ers on the team have worked on the Bat­man: Arkham and Splin­ter Cell series – so the stu­dio’s got no short­age of tal­ent.

Dropped onto the ‘savage planet’ AR-Y 26 by your em­ployer, the rather sus­pect Kin­dred Aerospace, your ul­ti­mate goal is to de­ter­mine whether it’s fit for hu­man habi­ta­tion. That means travers­ing the land­scape scan­ning and cat­a­logu­ing flora and fauna – and mak­ing sense of a strange and mas­sive struc­ture you dis­cover along the way.

That descriptio­n might be con­jur­ing up mem­o­ries of No Man’s Sky, but the de­vel­oper’s goal is to cre­ate some­thing small and fo­cused, not a sprawl­ing, pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated epic. That re­strained scope aids the game’s com­edy lean­ings, al­low­ing Typhoon to craft all sorts of lit­tle mo­ments of hu­mour for you to run into. That es­pe­cially in­cludes the con­stant com­men­tary of your AI com­pan­ion, EKO – their clue­less at­tempts at ad­vice make a fun change of pace from the typ­i­cal cool and com­pe­tent ro­bot part­ner. Weird sci­ence Dur­ing our hands-on, we’re tasked with a few dif­fer­ent ob­jec­tives, though we have the freedom to pur­sue them in what­ever or­der we choose. Each seems to open up new pos­si­bil­i­ties and ap­proaches to the world. First, we take on a mis­sion to cre­ate our own grap­pling hook – once built, we can swing grace­fully around and access pre­vi­ously un­reach­able ar­eas. Sec­ond, we seek out and scan alien tele­porters that dot the land­scape. Once cat­a­logued, these func­tion as fast travel points, al­low­ing us to get right back in the ac­tion when we die – an­other friendly touch that al­lows us to take death in our stride.

De­spite the high mor­tal­ity rate, it’s not a par­tic­u­larly vi­o­lent game – the fo­cus is very much on ex­plo­ration and dis­cov­ery over com­bat. While you do get a gun, it’s the only weapon in the game, and any greater stop­ping power will only come from giv­ing it oc­ca­sional up­grades.

That said, our last mis­sion makes it clear that some of the wildlife is just too rowdy for peace­ful co­ex­is­tence. We’re forced into a duel with Crag­claw, a hulk­ing, crab-like mon­stros­ity. Though this con­fronta­tion has the feel of a boss bat­tle, it’s as much a test of our plat­form­ing skills as our aim, as we hop and crouch to dodge the alien’s slow, sweep­ing at­tacks.

As the beast falls, we’re left ea­ger to see more of this weird planet. Clever design makes even our in­ep­ti­tude just a part of the fun – we can’t wait to see how we’ll die next…

“De­spite the high mor­tal­ity rate, it’s not a par­tic­u­larly vi­o­lent game”

Above The planet is cov­ered in strange an­i­mals and plants to dis­cover.

right You only get the one gun, but it looks pretty groovy and can be up­graded.

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