The outside world can be a scary place, especially when it's on an uncharted planet. But exploration is the mission and familiarizing yourself with the world and its inhabitants is part of the fun. That's the premise behind Journey to the Savage Planet, a first-person adventure that tasks players with exploring a strange world and avoiding any dangers that might pop up out of the blue.
First revealed at The Game Awards 2018, Journey to the Savage Planet puts players in the role of a Kindred Aerospace employee, a company that specializes in space exploration. Well, "specializes" might be a bit of an overstatement. They're actually the fourth-best interstellar exploration company in the galaxy. But they're not afraid to send their employees into a strange planet by themselves and have them catalog its plant and animal life in an effort to determine whether the world is fit for human habitation. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. Shacknews got the ball rolling by trying it out.
Developer Typhoon Studios has put together a colorful world for players to peruse at their own leisure. The landscape immediately stands out for its strange plantlife and oddball alien life, most of which are docile creatures that either slimy or have an odd number of eyeballs. Beyond exploration, players are provided with objectives that update over time, the first series of which has players gathering materials to put together a grappling beam. But make no mistake, exploration is one of the key features, with players analyzing anything they come across and getting full encyclopedic entries on what they are, what they do, and any potential danger they may present.
Many of the more dangerous animals operate like they would in a zoo or out in nature, essentially that they don't harm you as long as they're left alone. That can be a little tough at first, given the game's controls. Over my hour with the game, I frequently exercised a hair trigger and hit the wrong button, taking a cuddly little slimeball and blowing it into atoms. There's no penalty for killing innocent creatures, but it's certainly not a good look for the player. And it's even worse when the creatures can defend themselves, like an armored, scaly lizard that can curl up like an armadillo and roll towards you in self-defense. Players only have a single pistol at their disposal, so don't expect to get a lot of firepower to help you control the planet's population. They can pick up gadgets down the road that'll make interaction with nature more interesting and open up more biomes.
What would make me hit the wrong button in this case? In Savage Planet, players have bait that they can feed the planet's various creatures. Sometimes, they play into the game's various environmental puzzles. One example sees a path blocked off by a carnivorous plant. It won't open its thorny branches until its appetite is sated, but fortunately there are harmless critters roaming around the area. There's one button mapped to a bait function, so players can pass around food and lure certain creatures wherever they're needed. In this case, they were needed in the gullet of the plant and once the plant was fed, the next area opened up.
The jungle-like biome surrounding the shuttle isn't the only one featured in Savage Planet. Far from it, in fact. There are several different environments to check out, with another example coming at the conclusion of our hands-on. A molten area filled with deadly lava and hostile creatures required some precision platforming across well-placed rocks. Swinging and missing leads to certain death, which in this case leads to a respawn aboard the Kindred Aerospace vessel.
Savage Planet's allure appears to not only be the setting, but also the lighthearted manner in which it's presented. The Kindred Aerospace training videos have a humorous infomercial-like flare to them, while the wild creature behaviors have a cartoonish National Geographic atmosphere. But make no mistake, the landscapes are gorgeous, whether they be the aforementioned volanic area or the frozen tundras of the nearby mountaintops. Scanning new areas is one of the key goals, some of which have about a dozen different sections that must be scanned individually. In addition to finding landmarks to document on the player's map, some might act as fast travel locations.
It's hard to describe something like Journey to the Savage Planet, mostly because its appeal is in jumping right in and seeing the environments personally. There's a lot that's worth exploring and it stands a chance to be an even cooler game once things open up and more gadgets unlock. For now, it's a good start. Look for Journey to the Savage Planet to release in 2020 on PC via the Epic Games Store.