Forget petting the dog, in Journey to the Savage Planet you can actually play as one, complete with ‘ruff’ sounding jumping noises and wincing to make a heart stop.
Journey to the Savage Planet has an interesting sense of humour. It falls somewhere between a Borderlands, No Man’s Sky and a Fallout in its depiction of its cast, the representation of the kinda-evil ‘megalord corporation’ and the quirky lands you roam around in.
The comparison to the aforementioned games isn’t a coincidence, either, as it also borrows mechanically from each of them.
With No Man’s Sky’s scanning and exploration, Borderlands off the wall humour and Claptrap like companion, and Fallout’s quest structure, you’ll immediately feel at home in this well-presented, often entertaining little package that will absolutely be remembered as one of 2020’s pleasant surprises.
But you want to know more about doggos I know. I get it. When you boot the game up you’re asked to pick an image that best represents you and are given some stock choices, including a real cool looking best boy – or girl. Pick them and into an unforgettable intergalactic adventure you go! One small paw for dogkind and all that.
As a member of Kindred Aerospace, you’ve stumbled onto an uncharted planet and it’s your job to scan its life forms, technologies, materials and buildings in order to uncover all the secrets and craft some amazing utilities using an invaluable 3D Printer. Over time, your weapon will increase in competency, range, durability and stability, you’ll get grappling hooks, magnets and boosters. In fact, the very nature of the game has a real Metroidvania feel about it.
And to be honest, it’s all really good fun unravelling this world at a base level, stumbling upon new areas, finding interesting things to scan, working out how to survive and defeat new enemies. You’ll find yourself flying through the content at rocket pace, sometimes quicker than you might like, but you won’t be able to stop yourself because Typhoon Studios have done a great job hooking you in.
The whole aim is to find humanity somewhere new to live – and I find the idea of a dog doing that pretty hilarious frankly. Thing is, the man facilitating the experiments seems to have some ulterior motives in mind and is a little too excited by your huge discoveries. One might even be forgiven for thinking he has other ideas in mind.
Journey to the Savage Planet is one of those easy-playing games. Throw it on, do some exploring, rank up and gradually work your way up to that 100% completion rate. It all feels so achievable and while it’s feeling achievable, for the most part, it’s enjoyable.
The difficulty ramps up a bit quickly, though, and some enemies are a tad overpowered compared to your capabilities. Sometimes it feels like you need to gather too many resources in order to get the things you need. It’s also really easy to get lost and the teleport points scattered around sometimes feel a bit too far away from the things you need to get to.
Oh, and once you’re locked into a boss battle, you’re locked in. So, be careful where you wander around.
Despite its deceptively cutesy charms, this game can be brutally challenging at times, sometimes requiring a bit of thinking outside of the box. But the way it introduces things to the player is also incredibly subtle – too subtle, in fact – because it’s not always immediately obvious what each thing does.
Fortunately, there’s always an easy to access tutorial button and by doing a bit of scanning you can get a few clues about what works and doesn’t.
You can even dip into some co-op with a buddy and explore the world together if you’re getting a bit overwhelmed and confused. For what feels predominantly like a single player experience, this works really well and means you can have some real fun charting the planet together, discovering how everything works. It’s not local, sadly, but to have the feature in here at all is a welcome addition.
For a studio’s debut game, Journey to the Savage Planet exudes a lot of confidence and quality. I was constantly impressed at the production values, how much there was to see and do, and how involved the game can be. Typhoon Studios have crafted something short and sweet, laying the foundation for a franchise with exciting potential. It’d be very easy to layer in some more DLC or even set things up for a sequel. I really don’t feel like we’ve seen the last of those Puffer Birds.
If you’re looking for something light and entertaining in bursts, Journey to the Savage Planet is as good as I’ve played in months. It’s not perfect, but its charm will keep winning you over and help you look past the cracks in the surface.
And, uh, you get to play a dog in outer space. What’s more perfect than that?
Journey to the Savage Planet is now available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Played on PS4
Code provided by Publisher