The overall concept of Lifeless Planet is fascinating, and one that would allow for an experience that’s infrequently seen on major consoles. The set up allows players to explore loneliness on a planetary scale. One major problem I have with Lifeless Planet, however, was that the game gives too much away within the first act, destroying the huge sense of mystery the game was trying to produce. The suspenseful reveal’s delivered within a few moments after your travels begin, and you are left with nothing more to do than follow a long, long, LONG trail through a dead planet (literally you follow a green trail for a majority of the game).
This also rolls into another major problem: A huge portion of the game is so boring, because there is a lack of conflict. The first and last acts of the story are the most appealing and provide the most entertaining elements of gameplay, with an ending that leaves many questions to be answered. Sadly, the majority of act two just ends up being a game of “follow the highlighted trail” and has little to no real intrigue.
Gameplay breaks down to exploration, platforming, and puzzle solving. The exploration works rather well in the huge landscapes, while platforming also benefits from the larger open world segments. Jumping from pillar to pillar in a vast canyon is a thrilling exercise of energetic gameplay, and is one of the more memorable parts of the game. Exploring the open world can also reveal a few secrets, even if much of it is empty. Sadly a majority of the puzzles are too simple and a little repetitive.
It’s not until the third act where the puzzles become grander in scale, and actually require more thought to solve them. Most of the time it’s using a robotic arm to place a stone into an opening or push a series of buttons in the right order.
I mentioned before that the game lacked, conflict even with an enemy placed in the game world. The monsters resemble roots that are reaching up out of the ground to grab you, pose no real threat and can for the most part be avoided. Even when they evolve into the shape of human beings to lure you into a trap, they still manage to ruin the intensity and provide no real element of conflict. It’s at this point that you realize that this game is really just a walking simulator, and your real enemy will be the controls.
One of the other issues with the game is the length. Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition feels like it is about an hour or so too long; and because of this it makes the last leg of the journey feel like a drag. With all of that said, the game does create an immersive atmosphere with the open world and its design, along with some set pieces that deliver the stronger segments of the narrative, and introduce a form of interactive storytelling.
Most of the game is thankfully visually stimulating and wondrous to look at, apart from the moments the game decides to bathe everything in darkness and you can’t see jack all. Another bright spot in the game is the soundtrack, the music does set the mood for the journey of discovery and loneliness.
What can ruin the exploration factor are the controls; the walking is fine, but the jumping that’s where the issue began. Jumping forward has a tendency to either stop mid motion, or go too far and over jump the distance by a few feet. This is an issue because this game is chocked full of platforming. So when the jump works spotty at best it tends to be a real big issue and will frustrate you to no end when you are trying to progress in the game.
In closing Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition tries well enough to produce a thought-provoking game and in many respects, it does. But halfway through the developer decided to force in more mindless puzzle elements, and a non-threatening enemy type that could have been taken out completely. This would have been a better game I think if they the developer took the approach of “less is more” there were more than a few puzzles and things which felt like filler and bogged down the entire experience sadly
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