With most shooters, there’s usually a hefty amount of competition. You’re a soldier and you have to save the world from this pestilent force and this evil megalomaniac who has a plan to make something his or hers or what have you.
And I think that’s what makes Journey To the Savage Planet stand out so much. It doesn’t follow the typical shooter blueprint. Sure, it has its fair share of challenges and boss encounters, but it’s more about doing things for exploratory reasons — and in a comical sense, no less.
The game puts you in the shoes of a recyclable visitor (yes, that’s apparently a thing now) as you attempt to look through the planet of AR-Y 26. With the help of an AI system by the name of EKO, you’ll set out on a number of missions while looking for parts to repair your ship, as well as resources to create upgrades to get you further into the world. It’s a self-evolving game that really picks up as it goes along, and offers a surprising amount of depth.
Not to mention it’s hilarious. EKO provides some laughs with her banal yet dead-on delivery of her lines, making no qualms about the number of times you’ll die within the game. And if you have a minute, stop and take a break in your ship and watch the ridiculous TV programming that pops up in the lounge. It’s inspired stuff.
But don’t hang out in the ship that long, because you have work to do. And Typhoon Studios, headed up by a Halo veteran, does a good job making the game worth exploring. Sure, there are times you may get stuck because the world is so damn immense, but that makes you just want to dig more.
First, the gameplay has some great quirks. At first, your pistol doesn’t do much. But as you go back and keep upgrading, you’ll unlock some new tricks that come in helpful when it comes to taking on enemies. Not to mention using stuff in the environment, like bitch-slapping an enemy right into the mouth of a monstrous gate so that it’ll open up its arms and let you in to the space you want to get to. (Yes, I said bitch slap — that’s your melee.)
Then there are the secondary items, including some weird can of liquid that can attract attention, as well as additional organisms you find throughout the planet to help, including goo that can boost you into the air and grenade-like explosive orbs. You’ll need to do some adaptation to your character to really take advantage of these, but it’s cool how the game grows with you as you progress and gives you new stuff to try out, most of it useful against your adversaries.
But the game never loses its way in humor. It’s always a delight to play, even if the challenge is overwhelming. If EKO’s comments don’t crack you up, then a simple in-game action will — like posting a beast in the eye Three Stooges-style. Nyuck.
The only real downside is that it’s easy to get stuck in certain spots. This will force you to “recycle,” or reset as it were, and start from your last checkpoint. I assume Typhoon will probably look into these instances and fix them in the future. It doesn’t happen often enough to become annoying; but if you do get stuck, I assure you that you’re not alone.
Journey To the Savage Planet also supports online co-op, in case you feel like exploring the world with a friend. This can actually be quite enjoyable as you team up together to take on missions. The only downside is that there’s no local play. Had the game included this, it would’ve made for a hell of a couch romp.
Where Journey misses out on certain options, it more than makes up for with its wonderful presentation. The game features a colorful, intricately-designed world that will wow you at every turn, even as you try to get past monsters that apparently live to spew fire. There are times that the details can be a little bit scattered, but overall, this game is a wonderful-looking example of how to do things uniquely with a shooter. Not to mention the FMV clips that play in the ship. As I mentioned, these are hilarious and well worth your time.
I also like the audio as well. The voice acting is splendid and fits right in with the game’s goofy tone (whoever voiced EKO, give her a damn award); and the sound effects are atmospheric and really do wonders here, especially when it comes to locating enemies within the world.
The ride does come to a close a lot sooner than I would’ve liked, but this game is all about the journey, as its title notes. Journey To the Savage Planet is a different kind of first-person shooter, one that relies on explorational purposes while still jabbing your sides with some of the best humor possible. Its level-up system is also outstanding, unlocking a little bit at a time to help keep you on the right track. The presentation is excellent as well, standing on its own two feet while still finding something for fans of other games to enjoy.
If it’s a trip to weirdville that you’re looking for in games, or you just want something innovative to start 2020 off on the right foot, don’t hesitate to take this Journey.