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Est. April 2016. III Version 2.0. III

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PLANET ALPHA
Watch out for the Domz!

REVIEW
By JAY TEE
24/09/18

Planet Alpha is an immensely detailed but uneven experience. On the one hand, the lush environments, and complete absence of overt hand holding, makes the whole package feel premium and well constructed. However, for every moment of visual splendour, there’s a sharp difficulty spike, or weird enemy behaviour, that rips you out of the moment.

Published by industry veterans Team17, I can’t help but be impressed by Planet Alpha’s narrative ambition. This is environmental storytelling done right; there’s so much here left open to interpretation. As you perpetually wander from one hazardous locale to the next, it has a very ‘Journey’ like vibe. You’re left to figure out the ‘push / pull’ puzzle mechanics, and draw your own conclusions about the protagonist and the world.

The game is certainly memorable, and although the slightly wonky A.I and fiddly platforming might get in the way on occasion, it’s definitely worth checking out.

THE BASICS - Side scrolling adventure, with detailed environments and puzzle solving.

PLATFORMS - PS4, XB1, NS, and PC.

PLAYERS - Offline - 1, Online - 0

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - None.
 
DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - None currently announced.

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

REVIEWS KEY:

The Look - Art style, graphics, and overall presentation.

The Feel - Mechanics, controls, and learning curve.

The Sound - Music, sound effects, and dialogue.

The Experience - Anecdotes and random thoughts.

This is a serious contender for foliage physics of the year.

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FINAL SCORE:

STYLISH VINES - Each level feels truly alien. The vast ecosystem is rendered with lavish colours and impressive detail. The art style definitely isn’t shooting for realism, but you can tell that an enormous amount of work has been pumped into nailing the visuals and selling the quirkiness of the world.

TRIP TUCKER - Performance wise, the game holds its own and remains fairly consistent. We’re reviewing Planet Alpha on a PS4 Pro, and the 4K resolution definitely is a welcome bonus. We did come across the odd dips in framerate, seemingly unrelated to any sudden spikes in on screen action. Perhaps a patch or two will help further optimise the whole thing?

LIGHT ME UP - The lighting design is fantastic across the board. Wait till you get to the underground sequence!

Planet Alpha is a graphically sumptuous, and very original experience, held back by some inconsistent design choices and fluctuating difficulty.

*PS4 review code provided by Team17*

WIGGLY WIGGLY - There is no combat per se, with almost every enemy encounter requiring you to steer clear of their watchful gaze and find a way to progress to the next area. There were several moments where enemies were either omnipotent all seeing ninjas, or totally ignored us in situations where they had previously attacked. Very strange.   

IDIOTS GUIDE - The controls are very simple, which totally fits the game. You’re not having to remember elaborate combos or manage a weapon wheel here. Interacting with objects in the world, jumping, and pushing right on the left stick pretty much covers everything you could possibly need.

SAY WHAT?! - You’ll often be faced with a sudden massive spike in difficulty, which leads to frustrating trial and error.  

SUBTLETY WINS THE DAY - The soundtrack is subtle and not at all overpowering. Planet Alpha places a huge emphasis on you being able to soak up its world without distraction, and thankfully, the music plays a supporting role and adds a nice flavour. The production values across the board are extremely impressive for an indie budget.  

AHH SEE - The lack of dialogue means that you’re left to ruminate and ponder over the nature of the story and the circumstances that brought you to the planet. I don’t think voice acting would fit, and although I’m usually a massive advocate of fully voiced characters, I’m glad that Planet Alpha is attempting to strike out and do its own thing.

LOOK AT THE LIL’ GUY - The creatures and ancient ruins are well represented by appropriately distinct and unusual sounds effects.

WANDERLUST - Curiosity propels you forward, but the platforming felt a tad irritating at times. There’s a bit too much scrambling and flailing, and your movement lacks precision. Then, when you’re faced with enemies who can be both incredibly capable or bafflingly stupid at any given moment, there’s a pervasive lack of consistency across the whole game.

JUST RIGHT - Although Planet Alpha is quite short, it’s a huge plus that it doesn’t outstay its welcome. You’ll feel satisfied with the environmental variation and lush visuals by the time the credits roll, and thankfully, it feels like a complete experience. You get a sense that everything that was meant to be included made it into the final release.

‘SUP JADE - The alien invaders really do look like the DomZ from Beyond Good and Evil.

LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS ARTICLE!
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, TWEET US @JAYTEE_GA, OR E-MAIL: EDITOR@JTGA.CO.UK.

TARP BADGES:

The BAM! DONE! badge lets you know that within minutes of picking up the controller, you can play this like a pro.

The TROLLOLOL badge is for a game with sudden spikes in difficulty.

The GRUMPY SPONGES badge is for a game where certain characters aren’t pleased to see you.

The QUARK’S EARS badge is for a game with top quality sound effects.  

The FRAMERATE VIAGRA badge is for a game with mostly solid performance, but has occasional dips or stuttering.

The DRAGON’S DOGSHIT badge is for a game with a truly fantastical and / or otherworldly setting.

The PHOLIAGE PHYSICS badge is  for a game with excellent foliage physics.

GOOD