Review – Planet Alpha

Astronauts have to be some of the bravest people ever made. They have to be prepared to be launched into the atmosphere and into the regions beyond. Between the loneliness of space, the huge risk of something unpredictable happening, and potentially being by yourself for long stretches of time, it takes someone with an unfathomable mental fortitude to handle that sort of a career. Now add in the possibility of  finding life outside of Earth. How would you fare? This is the premise of Planet Alpha by Planet Alpha ApS.

You start off as an astronaut that has just crash landed on a distant planet. Weak and struggling to survive, you press ever onward. As you near the end of your life crawling through unknown territory, you collapse, only to be revitalized by an unknown source in an alien world. From then on, you’re in for the ride of your life as you traverse through unknown lands, utilizing the environments in strategic ways, and hiding from the hostile robots that plague the area around you. This is the world of Planet Alpha.

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The robots look so peaceful before the slaughter.

Planet Alpha is a side scrolling platformer, but with a large focus on stealth elements and intermittent puzzles to solve. For the most part you’ll be trying to get from point A to point B while running, jumping, and ducking your way through. Shortly after the first chapter, you’ll be introduced to the robotic aliens looking to annihilate you and that’s when the stealth sections become prominent. There’s a surprising amount of strategy involved in Planet Alpha, as you’ll need to figure out when to hide, run, jump over, or attract attention from said robots in order to make it through successfully. Plus there’s the planet’s natural inhabitants to consider…

The controls in Planet Alpha are very simplistic, but effective. You move across the screen while only being able to run, jump, duck, and grab onto certain objects. Everything is responsive and there aren’t many framerate dips, which is surprising for an indie title. I was also impressed that the stealth sections and puzzles were introduced very organically throughout the game. It all seemed like a natural part of the world, except of course the evading enemy hostiles which presents its own level of challenge. Planet Alpha is very forgiving with its checkpoints luckily. Whenever you die, you’ll be respawned right before the place you perished, making it a lot less annoying to progress through.

The art style of Planet Alpha is unique and yet very appropriate for this kind of game. It relies largely on geometric shapes, but done so in a clever way that features it mainly in the foreground, with wispy natural clouds and smoke complimenting it in the background. I was constantly in awe of how it looked simultaneously primitive, yet advanced.

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I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore Toto…

 

The sound design in Planet Alpha is wonderful. There is no voice acting, but the soundtrack delivers all the emotion needed to understand the fear and wonder your astronaut is experiencing during his travels. The sound effects of moving through the various elements and foliage throughout the world are very well done too.

Planet Alpha is a great game for those who love platformers, adventure titles, puzzle games, and stealth elements. Team 17 Digital Limited and Planet Alpha ApS certainly delivered a standout and worthwhile game with Planet Alpha. It’s easy enough to jump into for almost everyone to enjoy, yet challenging enough for even seasoned gamers to appreciate. Planet Alpha might be a short game, but definitely worth your time.

 

Graphics: 8.5

A unique geometric art style with realistic elements added in subtly.

Gameplay: 8.0

Basic controls including running, jumping, ducking, and grabbing that are easy to master and very responsive.

Sound: 8.5

No voice acting, but the soundtrack does a great job of conveying the proper emotion when needed.

Fun Factor: 9.0

A side scrolling, puzzle platformer with lots of stealth elements. A refreshing take on the genre with well implemented ideas.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Reviewed on PS4.
Planet Alpha is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows.
A copy of Planet Alpha was provided by the publisher.