Prepare for a Seemingly Endless Walk
Lifeless Planet was originally released in 2014. So why review it now? Well we figured with the recent release on Playstation 4, we would give Lifeless Planet a shot.
Before we begin on the review, let’s have ourselves a history lesson. Lifeless Planet initially began its journey as a Kickstarter and originally debuted in 2014 on PC. So by Kickstarter standards, it was a success. Meaning that the game actually came out following it being successfully funded Kickstarter. The game was subsequently released on other devices, eventually being brought to the Playstation 4 by Serenity Forge. It has been 3 years; is the remastered edition of this game worth the $19.99 (or $14.99 for PS+ subscribers) for the Playstation 4 edition? Unfortunately, we not so sure. While there were a bunch of elements we enjoyed, it wasn’t enough to keep the gamer engaged.
Lifeless Planet was originally supposed to be an action adventure game but was later changed to ditch the action to support the story more¹. In my opinion, I think they maybe should have maintained this style the whole way through development. The gameplay feels rather lacking. You spend the bulk of the game wandering around and walking in a not so fulfilling manner.
It may be a platformer that has a lot of solid moments but it doesn’t make up for the large gap in between these moments. This gap was definitely necessary at first; we needed the feeling of hopelessness and isolation to set the tone for the rest of the game. That being said, later on the game really needed something to fill these long pauses. Whether with more music, more puzzles, or more action, something was needed in order to bring a bit more life to this barren planet.
With all the bland walking that occurs, the duration of the game itself feels a lot longer than it needs to be. It would have been fine if there was a bit more dialogue or another gameplay element to occupy the empty space. Without these or some other element, Lifeless Planet just takes too much time for significant events to transpire.
The story was the one thing that kept me pressing on. I wanted to discover the mystery of this desolate planet. The concept of being sent on a one way trip across the galaxy with the promise of a bountiful planet only to discover the harsh reality and bones of a Soviet civilization was a pretty interesting concept. If it had not been for the mysterious woman and these remnants of the colony it would have been difficult to want to continue. The need to find out more about the disappearance of my crew and the colony was compelling enough to finish the game. The story (although told in a very slow manner) was definitely the game’s saving grace.
On a more positive note, the soundtrack and dialogue to this game are pretty amazing. Considering this is a small team, the soundtrack and mood that it sets blends perfectly with the game. Unfortunately, much like the gameplay, it is parsed throughout the game with moments of emptiness. Considering how well the soundtrack was scored, I would have loved if they had more music and if it had been featured throughout the game rather than sparingly. There were too many vacant moments of just the pitter patter of the astronaut’s boots.
The dialogue (for what little there is) is equally impressive. As someone who speaks several languages, nothing drives me crazy more than films where everyone apparently speaks perfect English. Lifeless Planet, fortunately, does not fall victim to this. They have clear and concise Russian that they translate for you on a notepad. They never stray away from the language in the dialogue, which is fantastic.
While an ambitious title, Lifeless Planet falls short of its ambitions in the end. But don’t get me wrong; Lifeless Planet isn’t a bad game. Despite the considerable amount of imperfections, it still tells a decent story. If you are looking for an indie title that tells a curious science fiction story that isn’t terribly mentally taxing and does a great job with sound production, then Lifeless Planet might be for you. However, if you need more than simple exploration and the occasional platform and puzzle game however, you may want to look elsewhere.
- When the dialogue that is actually there, the use of Russian and voice acting is pretty solid for a small developer.
- Story is compelling enough to intrigue the player into wanting to know more.
- The music is beautifully scored. Unfortunately there is a lot of silence in the game, but when there is music it is impressive.
- Doesn’t require intense attention to succeed.
- Large gaps and emptiness between puzzles and story
- Gimmicky and forced elements, such as the mechanical arm mini-game or the fact that the jetpack just “happens” to short out
- Longer than it needed to be
Developer: Stage 2 Studios
Publisher: Serenity Forge
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS