Journey to the Savage Planet Review
Journey to the Savage Planet promises brave adventurers a vibrantly colorful alien world filled with mystery, promise, and intrigue. Either alone or alongside a friend, you explore this vast alien world in the hopes of finding new and valuable resources, making contact with alien life and eventually, returning home.
The game is available to play entirely solo or alongside a friend in co-op. I did dabble in the single player experience, but for the vast majority of my time with the game, I played alongside another editor.
Journey To The Savage Planet Review
You take on the role of a faceless space hero that is an employee of the Kindred Aerospace company, which appears to boast about its ability to throw explorers into deep space with no means of getting back to Earth. You’re tasked with finding alien materials, repairing and refueling your ship to return home, and gauging the planets potential for human colonization.
Unfortunately, that’s about the breadth of the narrative. The introduction of the game comes in the form of a live-action cutscene, where Kindred CEO Martin Tweed humorously introduces you to the Pioneer Program and Kindred’s goal to explore uncharted space. These sequences do provide a brief window into its overarching story, but they are brief and far between, with the majority of the additional flavor locked behind collectibles and other difficult to find objects. Utilizing exploration as a method of discovering more of the world building can be a great tool, masterfully proven in Remedy’s Control, but not when it represents the vast majority of the narrative.
Journey to the Savage Planet takes a basic route throughout much of its journey to deliver a worthwhile gaming experience, never fully committing to a single aspect of its creative direction. The combat, the exploration, and the crafting all feel like the bottom layer of a sponge cake, failing to deliver any serious depth or variety.
For almost the entirety of the game, you’ll find yourself scanning objects, creatures, and alien structures. Usually for little more than completing basic objectives, but sometimes they are required. Journey to the Savage Planet’s exploration is much more linear than it appears, consistently funneling players down a certain path. As you continue through the game, your progress is constantly blocked, with very specific technologies and upgrades required to progress further. While this is somewhat rewarding initially, acting as a great introduction to the various exploration mechanics such as a grappling hook and jetpack, it quickly becomes stale and repetitive when it’s the sole method of unlocking all vital technology.
Even with the full arsenal of exploration tech at your disposal, it’s seldom worth taking the time to return to past areas and search for previously inaccessible locations. The physical rewards are lackluster, offering only materials or increases to health and stamina, often making complex platforming sections more frustrating due to the lack of a satisfying conclusion. Thankfully, however, not all is lost, as the environment itself is constantly impressed and many of the creatures often promote a “eww” or “what in the hell” response – even if said creatures are reskinned within moments of the first encounter.
Combat is rarely a focal point of the game’s creative direction, but when it is, it’s a refreshing break from the more monotonous aspects of the adventure. Armed with only a basic pistol, enemies attacks and movement patterns evolve and become more complex as the game progresses – leading to some incredibly fun and satisfying boss encounters.
The game seems afraid to commit to any one particular aspect of its design. A single gun (admittedly there were 1-2 tech upgrades I missed) and only a handful of aggressive creatures, very little to find when exploring, and a narrative hidden behind frustratingly high walls come together to provide a shallow dive into gunplay, a story drip fed over the 4-5 hours of the campaign, and exploration that always felt a bit dull.
If exploration with brief respites of combat appeals to your gaming desires, it’s difficult to not recommend the co-op. The entire game, start to finish, fully supports co-op play and performs near flawlessly throughout.
Journey to the Savage Planet feels like No Man’s Sky, if you were restricted to a single planet and were unable to build anything. It clearly takes inspiration from the likes of Borderlands and other comedy-fueled titles, but more often than not, the jokes fall flat and the exploration is uninspired.
Ultimately, Journey to the Savage Planet is a little less savage and a little more tame. What it does, it does quite well; it’s just a shame it doesn’t do very much. A decent title for those that get excited at the thought of exploration, but an otherwise unremarkable experience.