STAFF REVIEW of Journey to the Savage Planet (Xbox One)

Thursday, February 6, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Journey to the Savage Planet Box art Some people like being directed and hand held of where to go in games, others, they like to be thrown into a world and let loose to play however they wish. If you fall into the latter category and prefer freedom in how you play, then Journey to the Savage Planet might just be for you. If I had to directly compare to a single game, No Man’s Sky comes to mind, albeit with a much lighter and humorous tone, though you’re stuck on a single planet in Journey to the Savage Planet rather than giving you complete freedom in in the universe.

You are the newest recruit of Kindred Aerospace in the Pioneer Program. Kindred Aerospace proudly boasts that they are the 4th best interstellar exploration company, and you are tasked with determining if planet ARY-26 is suited for human life. Sure, you’re dropped onto a planet with no equipment, experience or plan, but hey, you get to have an adventure! The deep seeded humor is set from the opening moments and never lets up until the credits roll, making it a journey I enjoyed much more than expected. That, plus you can slap and kick any creature you see.

As you begin your journey, you’re given a few guides as to what you should be doing and how to control the basics, but after that, you’re essentially left to your own to discover and explore ARY-26 however you wish. At first, things may not seem as savage as the title suggests, as the first creatures you encounter seem quite harmless, and actually are quite adorable. As you venture further from your ship though, the environment and creatures start to become more dangerous the deeper you delve into the planet.

While you can freely explore, many areas will be locked away until you have the right equipment to traverse around, so there’s going to be a lot of backtracking and going to new areas once you have a grapple beam, able to double jump and more. This makes for some Metroidvania exploration, but you’re tasked with determining if the planet is habitable for humans, so you’ll also need to scan every flora and creature with your visor to add them to your database as well. Doing so will give you hints as to deal with certain threats or how to properly use specific plants for your benefit. For example, plants with large orange seeds can replenish health, others act like bombs and can blow up cracked walls, and scanning another specific plant will alert you that its poison can be used to melt hardened amber.

As you gain new equipment and upgrades, you’ll be able to delve further into ARY-26, and if you scour enough, you’ll also find ancient relics that act as teleportation devices so you can fast travel to specific points on the planet. Your ship is outfitted with the latest 3D printer capabilities, and this is not only how you craft your new upgrades when available and you’ve gathered the required amount of materials, but this is how you’ll come back to life once you die. Oh, and you will die, so it’s quite convenient that a replica of yourself is printed so you can get back to your adventure as soon as possible. When you do die though, all the resources you’ve gathered will be at your corpse, waiting for you to pick them up and deposit them back at your ship.

What excited me the most for Journey to the Savage Planet was that I was going to be able to play alongside a friend while exploring with the built in co-op. After doing so, I’m sad to report that the co-op features are as bare bones as it gets. First, you can only invite people from your friends list, so no random players or matchmaking, and you can’t even start playing until they’ve joined your lobby. Second, it seems you don’t share resources and only the host makes progress in their game. That’s right, if you’re the friend joining someone, you won’t keep anything you’ve earned to go into your own game; only the host keeps any progression. Why you would want to play as the friend joining other than to help, I’m not sure, but it was quite a letdown, as my friend didn’t want to waste his time if he wasn’t making progress as well.

Visually, Journey to the Savage Planet is gorgeous, as everything in the world is super bright and colorful. Creatures may not have a ton of variety, but the different versions of each is interesting, like the ones that wear hardened amber on their heads for armor. The boss fights are far and few in-between, but they are challenging and quite a sight to behold. There’s even a great photo mode included for those that want to take breathtaking snaps with some gorgeous vistas. As for the audio, the soundtrack is fitting for the mood and the voiceover work from the CEO of Kindred and the commercials is done wonderfully.

I enjoyed my time with Journey to the Savage Planet, not only for its simplistic gameplay and exploration of an interesting and beautiful planet, but especially for its humor. Even the way that you hold items in your left hand throughout is funny, as is every email and commercial you receive on your ship. Typhoon Studios has created something special in their very first outing as a developer, and while it may not be perfect, it sure was an interesting Journey to the Savage Planet.

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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