I’m normally one to quickly fall off these massive open survival-type games. From a purely conceptual level, games like Minecraft or No Man’s Sky are interesting, but the lack of direction is intimidating to me. I personally have to have a goal in a game (which is part of the reason I love Trophies so much). I need something to accomplish and a direction to be pointed in. Journey to the Savage Planet struck me as a great looking game for people who liked that open-ended survival, but I didn’t think its aimlessness would be something I’d particularly enjoy. Fortunately I decided to give the game a shot for an hour or so at E3, and what I played was something I really enjoyed.
Journey to the Savage Planet manages to strike some kind of balance between that aimless open survival game, mining resources and murdering indigenous creatures, and giving direction and guidance to the player. There are very clear goals to accomplish, and while those who like that freedom can wander around to their heart’s content, for me, I was happy to have that marker on the HUD telling me where to go and what to do next.
That out of the way, Journey to the Savage Planet is like a super goofy No Man’s Sky. There’s an almost retro-futuristic feel to everything. The creatures are as weird as they are dangerous. Even just hanging out on the ship which acts as a base, there are silly video commercials that play, perfectly setting the tone for a game that doesn’t take itself super seriously. The first-person game has plenty of crafting for new equipment, weapons, and things to make exploration easier, but we really didn’t get to dive into this aspect of it too deeply.
As an employee of Kindred Aerospace, it was my responsibility to explore and catalog this new savage planet. It’s the traditional “see if this planet can support human life” sort of mission, and the tasks set forth generally follow this formula. Gathering a few resources, crafting new objects, and reaching the distant tower were a few of the introductory things that the game prompted me to do. The tower is an interesting mystery, because this planet isn’t supposed to have intelligent life, so there’s definitely a good mystery presented to drive the narratively curious and not just those who want the freedom of broad exploration.
The entire journey is accompanied by a hilariously sarcastic AI that provides a lot of flavor to the adventure. You can choose to turn the frequency of its dialog up or down, but of course I cranked it up to max for my brief gameplay session. I wanted to get as much of the goofiness as I could, though it’s nice to know that I can turn it down if it ever gets annoying or repetitive. As I devoured an orange blob that ultimately increased my health, the AI makes comments about how I’m probably not too smart to just be eating random things on a random planet. She’s probably right, but there was a gameplay prompt, so what was I supposed to do?
Journey to the Savage Planet is a delightful comedic adventure that takes the broad planetary exploration and dices it down into a more manageable bite-sized experience, which is perfect for someone like me who can’t take the time to invest into massive directionless survival adventures. The savage planet provides enough goals and is just focused enough to keep me invested, but also seems easy enough to step away from when I need to, without losing focus or having a hard time getting back into it later. It was only a brief session with the game (and suffered from a power outage at E3 that restarted the demo), but they can count on my interest being piqued. I’m ready to explore.