Journey to the Savage Planet is one of those titles that is picked up on the radar a few months in advance. You’re not bothered to look into the game that much as you’re trying to avoid spoiling certain details. However, the amount of information that does make its way to you promises a great time. I’ve heard everything from a smaller No Man’s Sky to a modern Metroid Prime and even some comparisons to early platformers. Needless to say, I am so glad we got our hands on a review copy so I could experience this engrossing and oddball humor experience for myself. Instead of being relegated to the backlog. I would normally say I haven’t had this much fun simply exploring in a long time, but…you know…Shadow Legend VR released earlier this month and we know how I felt about that title.
The story here is one of great aloofness and charm. I have to assume so since Kindred Aerospace, the fourth-best interstellar exploration program, has sent you to a random alien planet with not enough fuel for a return trip. The reason for this journey is to find other habitable planets for the people of Earth and to catalog all the dangers, creatures, fauna, and what have you. However, a small snag in the plan arises when Kindred Aerospace’s A.I. companion and technology detect other sentient life on the planet. So along with scanning everything you see, the player is tasked with discovering why there is intelligent life on the planet and who built a mysterious floating tower.
Now if this sounds like the beginnings of a sci-fi horror movie do not fear. Journey to the Savage Planet is a colorful and zany type of mood. Bright and bombastic colors will litter the landscape with equally as adorable creatures. Most of which will leave you be if you’re not hostile so you can take in the sights peacefully. The comedy between radio transmissions and communication logs will also bring levity to a situation that would otherwise be most dire. Such as a commercial for some “late night fun” but with pieces of purple, amorphous goo on the other end of the phone instead of women. Point being, the humor is so weird and eccentric I found myself waiting with bated breath for the next one-liner to drop.
Gameplay is like a much more arcadey and fun No Man’s Sky (shots fired!). You have a blaster pistol to defend yourself with and a whole host of items and abilities to help you traverse this alien planet. It wouldn’t be a semi-open world game if you couldn’t explore almost everything left, right, and center. As you find your place on “ARY-26” you’ll come across throwables that are mapped to your left hand. From the likes of seeds that form grappling points to a goo that can stick creatures together. There are a half dozen more in which roughly half are required to platform successfully and the other half is mainly used for challenges the title throws at you. Which speaking of, while these challenges can be entertaining and act as an obstacle to fully upgrading your suit, completing them felt more like work than fun. Plus, completing them had no impact on the story.
Alongside gathering the few materials needed for crafting on the planet, your spacesuit is your bread and butter. Abilities like double jumping, ground slamming, ziplining with the electrical tether, and super jumping will be required at their base levels to move the story along. It goes without saying as well that the better upgraded your suit, the more places you’ll be able to reach and reach quicker. Again, it’s a downer that the more advanced options are hidden behind challenges like getting a certain enemy to explode around others or killing so many creatures with one shot. It felt like a mechanic to pad out the game instead of being a fun upgrade system. Bypassing this series of obstacles though, it took me just under ten hours to complete the story. Taking into account finding all the collectables and such I’d say another five hours to 100%.
The exploration is amazing in this title. I found myself in areas that the campaign would never touch and even acquired story items way ahead of time. Now you can enjoy this beautiful world with a friend in two-player co-op. There’s no shareplay or online matchmaking opportunities as your co-op partner has to be an owner of the game and invited. The kicker though is something that was tolerated in the early PS3 days, but not now. The person invited to the co-op session will not retain any progress. So unless you plan on finishing the game over on your friend’s save file, you’ll be starting the game over when you play by yourself. Due to this, I didn’t even bother trying to play Journey to the Savage Planet with another person.
The only other problem I found with Journey to the Savage Planet involved the boss fights. While they are crafted pretty well and induced a sense of tension and wit, they often featured screen tearing if too much happened at the same time or a big object moved. One towards the end of the game made it seem like a fog was on the screen where this movement happened. Mind you this is happening on a PS4 Pro and a 4K TV, but I would be remiss if I didn’t include this technical problem in this review.
Journey to the Savage Planet PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.5/10
If you enjoy the concept of open worlds and exploration, Journey to the Savage Planet should be on your list of games to play right now or shortly after. The story and exchanges between the few characters on screen will undoubtedly be some of the best zany moments of the year and the gameplay will provide a real sense of enjoyably exploring an alien planet. Some of the better upgrades will be hidden behind frivolous work and co-op play essentially eats its own tail but as a palatable, January appetizer it succeeds in simply being fun.
- An engrossing yet zany story
- Amazing exploration opportunities and mechanics
- Irreverent and enjoyable humor
- Co-op is mostly pointless for the invitee
- Best upgrades are hidden behind work rather than play
- Minor screen tearing
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.