E3 2019 Hands-on – Journey to the Savage Planet
Journey to the Savage Planet was one of the weirdest games I played at E3 this year, and that’s not an insult at all. I’m all up for weird games that stand out from the rest of the crowd, and a space exploration title full of dry British humor, great graphics, and bizarre aliens is more than enough to garner my attention.
It’s hard not to initially compare Journey to the Savage Planet to No Man’s Sky, another space exploration game with similar visuals, even though the latter was completely devoid of any humor at all. I’m glad to inform that this is where the similarities end. While No Man’s Sky was a procedurally generated game, with basically no proper objectives or lasting appeal (at least back at launch), Journey to the Savage Planet features actually well designed and interconnected open-ended levels. Even though the game is not level based, nor does it feature a main plot for you to follow, it actually features lots of small objectives, side-plots, and intel logs to complete.
The developers call the game an “explore ’em up”, and it clearly shows. You’re encouraged to explore the huge map and discover what to do on your own. Journey to the Savage Planet differs itself from No Man’s Sky as you’re not forced to invent objectives in your head. Even though they’re nothing more than a huge collection of side objectives, akin to a collectathon platformer, everything is properly scripted, with a beginning, middle, and end to each objective. You also have a dry-witted AI accompanying you, as well as laughing at you in case you do something stupid.
Another main element from Journey to the Savage Planet is the ability to scan and catalogue the entire planet’s wildlife. While there was no concrete explanation to why I was suppose to do so (I blame the demo’s short duration for that), that triggered my completionist OCD. The flora and fauna are as weird as they are diverse. In case you’re not the peaceful scientist type, you can also shoot everything in sight with your blaster rifle. You also have a dedicated pimp slap button if you want to destroy enemies with extreme prejudice and sass. That might actually be Journey to the Savage Planet‘s main highlight.
Despite its apparent lack of a cohesive focus, either due to the duration of the demo or the fact the game wanted me to wander around and find stuff to do, I had a lot of fun with Journey to the Savage Planet. Its graphics are gorgeous, its controls were very responsive, and its sense of humor was deliciously dry and ironic. By the way, any game that allows me to pimp slap an alien is fine in my books. I’m looking forward to the final release.