Review – Journey to the Savage Planet

When I first played Journey to the Savage Planet back at E3 2019, I was told to simply explore a beautifully crafted world at my own pace, finding out small objectives along the way. I loved my time with it, but I was also wondering how a game could be structured on such a premise. The words “No Man’s Sky” started flashing inside my head like a painful post-traumatic reminder of 2016. I can now rest assured that Journey to the Savage Planet has nothing to do with the previously disgraced, now beloved space exploration title. In fact, it is its own thing, and it’s awesome. This is the first great game from the new decade and I couldn’t be happier about the result.

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This guy is my favorite person of all time.

In Journey to the Savage Planet, you take control of a lone space explorer who’s sent to a faraway planet in order to explore its flora and fauna and determine whether or not said said planet is suitable to become a human colony. Humanity, as always, has turned Earth into a less than ideal place to live, with its acidic rainfalls, climate calamities, food shortages, and worst of all, proliferation of egregious microtransactions in video games (yep, they actually poke fun at that). What should have been a simple mission eventually becomes a big adventure of its own when you find some deep secrets about the planet and its past.

I thought Journey to the Savage Planet was going to be a lot simpler than it ended up being. The game is actually a full-fledged first-person metroidvania with a huge emphasis on exploration, scanning everything in sight, platforming, and looking for secrets scattered throughout the map. If that sounds familiar to you, don’t worry, it did remind me of Metroid Prime as well, and that’s never a bad thing. Journey to the Savage Planet is the closest to a new Metroid Prime we’ve seen in more than a decade, but it also has a lot of different elements that make it stand out on its own.

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And now this is forever going to be in your head. You’re welcome.

Gameplay-wise, the game is centered not only around cataloguing every single animal, plant, or random thing that looks random in this world, but it’s also centered on searching for hidden jet fuel for your broken ship. You’ll also be looking for new elements that can help you create upgrades for your suit. It’s important to constantly collect crafting materials, as you can only create said upgrades with a 3D printer located inside your ship. A premise like this sounds like something that would ruin a game’s pacing, but Journey to the Savage Planet‘s beautifully crafted world is filled with teleportation devices that can transport you to basically every single main area in the game, as well as your ship. This allows for you to easily go back to a previously visited area in order to further explore it once you’ve acquire more upgrades. Metroidvania at its purest.

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Can I kick it? Yes you can! Can I pimp slap it? Yes you can!

One thing I thought I would dislike about Journey to the Savage Planet, and something I’m pretty sure a lot of people will discuss, is the game’s lack of a map feature. I did get lost more than once, I’m not going to lie. Yet for some reason I didn’t mind that. In any other game, I would have probably gone berserk, but considering this is a game about exploring an uncharted planet, with no idea where to go and what to expect, I actually thought that was a smart idea. All the game does is tell you how far you are from your objective, and that’s more than enough. More often than not you’ll be able to see the destination you’re supposed to reach from a distance and plan your journey to said objective just by analyzing the well-designed level in front of you.

The best thing about the game, however, is its sense of humor. Journey to the Savage Planet is one of the most cynical and sarcastic games I’ve ever played and I can’t stress how much I love it for that. From the live-action ads that sound as ironic as the Interdimensional Cable skits from Rick & Morty, to the scanning logs full of pop culture references, as well as the sassy A.I. that helps you throughout your mission, this game made me laugh out loud constantly. The hilarious voice acting more than made up for the fact that the game doesn’t have a lot of actual music in it. What’s there is good, but it’s mostly overshadowed by the sounds of nature and a robot telling you that she wouldn’t mind if you died over and over.

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This is not the most graphically advanced game you’ll play, but damn if it isn’t gorgeous.

Not everything is perfect, though. If I had to point out one major flaw about Journey to the Savage Planet, that would be its combat. Fighting monsters isn’t the main aspect of this game, but it still happens more often than not. A lot of enemies are either too fast for your sluggish camera controls or feature extremely specific weak spots that require an amount of aiming finesse that your weapon just can’t provide. There is an aiming assist option, but it’s not as helpful as it should be. I would suggest cranking up the game’s overall camera sensitivity in order to circumvent these issues.

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The game features a few boss fights. They’re a nice change of pace, even if the combat mechanics aren’t that great.

I would have already recommended Journey to the Savage Planet for its setting and hysterical sense of humor, but there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s a fantastic blend of casual space exploration with a metroidvania-esque progression system. It features some great graphics and a fantastically designed world to fool around in. Not only that, but it has a dedicated button for you to pimp slap everyone in front of you. Never before have I seen such a perfect usage of a button on a joystick like this one. I thank thee for this journey, Typhoon Studios.

 

Graphics: 9.0

Gorgeous environments, excellent lighting effects, and lots of wacky designs. This game might not be the most graphically advanced out there, but its art style is so appealing that I can’t help but love it.

Gameplay: 7.5

Exploring, scanning, and jumping around is precise and intuitive. The combat mechanics on the other hand, are far from ideal: aiming and shooting feel clunky and unresponsive. There’s also a dedicated pimp slap button and I’m so glad it exists.

Sound: 9.5

There isn’t a lot of music in this game, but the few tracks included in here are excellent. The hilarious voice acting more than makes up for it, however.

Fun Factor: 9.5

Sure, the sense of humor is amazing and the game made me laugh out loud from start to finish, but the overall blend of casual space exploration and a metroidvania-esque progression system is truly what makes Journey to the Savage Planet so special.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Journey to the Savage Planet is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Journey to the Savage Planet was provided by the publisher.