Updated: Jun 23, 2020
Now, what is Journey to the Savage Planet? It is a Metroidvania-platformer-fps-survivor made by Ex-Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry 4 director Alex Hutchinson’s Typhoon Studios. While it seems like that’s quite a lot of tags for one Video game, Journey to the Savage Planet (JTTSP) craftily steps one foot in all the mentioned genres, sort of like a mutated 4-legged monster. What’s so special about JTTSP is its humour. Taking the slapstick route, this game quickly shows its true colour or smell with fart jokes and gooey grenades. Starting in a crashed spaceship on the hostile planet of AR-Y 26, you play as a space adventurer employed by Kindred Aerospace, a company which often takes pride in being the 4th best interstellar exploration company. As an explorer you’re let loose alone (or with a partner if you choose to play co-op) into the “Dangerous” world made up of cute but ultimately deadly creatures whose names remind you of Pokemon. Come on Typhoon Studios, “Pikemander”?
While the world feels lively and fresh with a variety of creatures, a slight similarity of playing No Man’s Sky does wash over us. Except this, there is no resemblance of NMS in this game. The gunplay is in a weird zone for an FPS. While there is only one gun you can use over the entirety of the game, the upgrades for the gun don’t feel empowering enough as the gun is a hit and a miss (pun intended). Either it quickly kills down enemies or you can’t fire one single shot on the creatures. The charge mode is similar to Gears of War reload style but seems a bit to cumbersome to get it charged when you need it. It might feel like one is cribbing over minutiae but the game’s short campaign lets us think that this game could have been tuned to be a little bit tighter.
The games’ off-kilter humour and ironical self-deprecation is spot-on and works well in the game. Mocking the corporation-sends-you-to-do-shitty-work trope, the videos and news played while entering your ship is quite amusing and adds to the distinct flavour of the game. The throwables and other tools that are available in your arsenal help in making it an enjoyable trip around AR-Y 26. You are assisted by an EKO, the Ship’s AI that often hilariously guides you throughout the game. It’s warnings and cautions seem like it wants you to die, slightly sociopathic, but definitely funny.
The game’s upgrade system requires you to do certain experiments, tasks and missions so that you can level-up and get those upgrades. Upgrades for your suit add a significant value to the grind, but the gun feels like a toy until the very end.
When you die, you would lose your inventory and would have to go get it back from the place you perished. If lucky, you’d have to shamefully bury your body. These little things add to how the game rubs off on you, mocking all the prevailing tropes of videogames in this genre. Journey to the Savage Planet serves as an excellent critique of itself and videogames with the toxic practices that plague the industry. While there are a few loose ends, the game shines with its wacky attitude and critical flair gaining an 8.5 out of 10.