It’s not often a game leaves a bad taste in my mouth on the first few sittings. It’s even rarer when said title manages to pique my interest and do away with such negative, initial impressions. Battle Planet – Judgement Day may not be the best arcade game ever and still suffers from some issues, but it’s definitely an experience worth giving a second or even third try. Which you’ll have plenty of moments to do thanks to its roguelike structure. Plus, a nice dollop of space sci-fi never hurt anyone.
Battle Planet – Judgement Day doesn’t have much of a story behind it and nothing is explained other than a short twenty-second cutscene at the beginning of each adventure. Three prisoners are being carted away to a space jail. Naturally, things don’t go as planned and the carrier ship malfunctions. Our trio of characters then crash land on a random, hostile planet and have to fight their way through many waves of challenges, across different planets, to survive. There are some loose fourth-wall-breaking and meta-commentary that pad out the rest of the lore. Like how you’re told upgrades and certain characteristics are carried over between characters and to not question it. Other than that there’s not much of a tale to tell.
You start as the Raider character who acts like the jack-of-all-trades type. He’s a nice balance of speed, health, and damage whereas the other two either focus on speed or power, both of which need to be defeated in the ever-increasing waves in order to be unlocked. At the beginning of each planet, you’ll be tasked with completing four waves. These can be anything from defusing bombs that materialize out of nowhere, surviving an onslaught of enemies, killing a certain number of opponents, surviving on a sectioned off part of the planet, defeating a boss, and other similar tropes. You’ll accomplish this, or die trying only to start at wave one again, by utilizing a variety of expected abilities and weapons. Raider’s default weapon is an assault rifle that is quite powerful when upgraded. However, in the early stages of Battle Planet – Judgement Day, you’ll be relying on weapon drops and a scarce few abilities.
As you mow down enemies ranging from space insects to space cops trying to detain you, they’ll drop health pickups and special weapons. You can look forward to acquiring a shotgun, e-shocker, Gatling gun, boomerangs, and a rocket launcher for short bursts of time. These, of course, can be upgraded to become stronger or unlock passive abilities depending on the number of chips you collect. Chips act as the in-game currency and can be attained in exactly the way you think: defeating enemies, completing objectives, felling bosses, etc.
These also upgrade things like your health, jetpack capabilities, explosion technique, amount of perks used, speed, bomb defusal ability, shield power, and other similar features. The rate at which you can unlock these feats and abilities is pretty fair. The longer you stay alive and the better you do the more you’ll collect on any given run. Although you are allowed to use chips after every planet, or four waves.
Now, what initially turned me off was Battle Planet – Judgement Day’s presentation. The planets in this universe are extremely small. To the point where the player character is as big as mountains and can do a quick jog around the celestial body in a few seconds. This combined with the twin-stick shooter aspects threw me for a loop. It was difficult at first to take into account the severe curvature of the floor plan and adjust to defeating the enemies honing in. Luckily, I kept at it and soon the nuisance was nothing more than a variable to take advantage of. The presentation also shies away from the game’s more roguelike elements. The planets are somewhat randomly generated, but we’re talking about different obstacles in your path and where bombs appear. There are also different bosses to an extent as well. I’ve noticed some planets have two bosses to face depending on your current run. Also, some planets can have ravines filled with lava that can’t be run over and require jetpack usage.
Now full disclosure I have not beaten Judgement Day – Battle Planet even though I once beat 108% of the campaign. I’ve reached around wave 43 and things really get hectic even with an almost fully upgraded Raider. Things kind of turn into a bullet hell game at that point. There is couch co-op where a handy friend can play as Spy or Psycho (if unlocked), but the lack of online cooperative multiplayer really hurts this kind of experience. While I know the chances of me actually finding someone to play with pre-release are slim, there’s essentially no motivation for me to continue playing once I reach the high-level waves multiple times and have a fully upgraded character. In this regard, once the game is beaten nice and proper, there’s essentially no replayability.
While there’s not much to talk about in this subject, Battle Planet – Judgement Day does have fantastic particle effects and a killer sci-fi soundtrack. It was just enough to snap me out of any funk I found myself in while going through some repetitive waves. Character dialogue and script could have been a bit better though. You’ll hear the same phrases way too often.
Battle Planet - Judgement Day PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7/10
If a top-down, twin-stick shooter with roguelike elements sounds like a good time, Battle Planet – Judgement Day will be your jam. If you are somewhere in the middle like me then this title will need a sizeable warm-up period. The upgrading system and gameplay are great, but repetitive waves and mechanics can lead to exasperation. If everything I’ve described leaves a slight distaste in your mouth, this experience is definitely not for you.
- Fun arcade gameplay
- RPG upgrade system fits the roguelike wave system well
- Waves can be repetitive and feature the same enemies and objectives over and over again
- No online co-op
- An abrupt adjustment period to the title’s presentation aspects
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.