Journey to the Savage Planet Review – Hilarity and Adventure

    Title: Journey to the Savage Planet
    Developer: Typhoon Studios
    Release Date: January 28, 2020
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: 505 Games
    Genre: Action / Adventure

The year is now 2020, and I feel like I might have been longing for an adventure like the one offered in Journey to the Savage Planet. I mean, a game full of discovery that leads us into the new year is right up my ally. Surprisingly, this is the debut title from developer Typhoon Studios and I think it turned out to act as a much-needed canvas for exploration that I enjoyed.

Journey to the Savage Planet begins by welcoming players to the Pioneer Program of exploration, by Kindred Aerospace. Your mission is simple, get out there and find a new place for humanity. Given the state of the world and how crucial your role plays in its survival makes this a mission worth accepting. You see, the year is 2034 and capitalism has taken over as citizens have found themselves all in major debt. This has hindered the exploration budget with astronauts launching into space with very little resources.

The game’s story delivery is often hilarious and provocative as the intercom A.I, E.K.O, lays out the mission ahead for you. While character development is kept to base level, the developer has done a decent job at fleshing out this setting with random tidbits of information and lore. Even though the mission is crucial, the tone is kept rather charming thanks to its use of amusing story delivery.

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Journey to the Savage Planet’s gameplay puts a large focus on exploring to advance the game’s narrative. Discovering new areas and locations become second nature and curiosity never disappoints. This game is not completely open-world. Instead, different areas are connected with each one containing various locations that function as a large hub. During the first hours of gameplay, the sense of wonder acts as a great motivation to learn new ways of traversing these strange worlds. Later in the game, players can use unlocked abilities to find secrets and more locations, which only make this game’s scope larger.

Your job as a Pioneer is to collect, analyze, and scan local flora and wildlife. Players will also need to look for a new fuel resource in order to get back home. You progress the game through ranks across various exploration quests. The more you analyze and discover, the more access to upgrades you have. You see after you’ve made a few discoveries, you can interact with a 3D Printer to create something out of the useful information you gathered. Resources such as Aluminum, Carbon, and Silicon can be used to craft upgrades to your space suit, weapon, and abilities.

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Journey to the Savage Planet presents a nice blend of mixing collectibles, finding new upgrades, and completing quests, which creates a nice game loop. Utilizing the tools offered in the game grants access to new areas giving the sense of true progression within the game’s world. In terms of extra content, Alien logs can be found, which provide some extra lore. However, this is typically delivered in a humorous way to keep true to the game’s light mood.

The game also offers a co-op mode, which lets you traverse the world with a friend, or just another lost Pioneer, such as yourself. However, for this review, we weren’t able to use this mode.

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The visuals in Journey to the Savage Planet are full of bright and vibrant colors. Creatures and plant life are often hilariously designed to the point that there’s no real way to describe them. While they are extremely alien-like, they are cute in some strange way. Players will find themselves exploring icy cold mountains, green terrains, and exotic islands and caves. This keeps the adventure ever-changing and offers a sense of progression through the game’s light narrative.

Traversing through these areas can be done using a grappling hook as well as multiple jumps that require upgrades. However, animations come off a bit jarring in terms of how the player interacts with the world. Furthermore, enemy AI is haphazard at times and looks the part of an adventure delivered at a budget. This was a missed opportunity given that the game requires you to interact with these creatures so often. Still, boss battles are entertaining as the player must use their skills to get through various gimmicks in order to make it out alive. The soundtrack is almost non-existent, which is nice as it keeps the spirit of exploration. Still, the music does ramp up a bit when in an encounter or making a discovery.

Developed with Unreal Engine, we managed to run the game with textures on maximum, and temporal anti-aliasing active with almost constant 60fps on a non-OC RX 580 4GB. Post Processing was set on Medium and Shadows on High, with frame rate drops only to mid-50s, which isn’t too concerning. Overall the settings available and the optimization are adequate and should deliver a stable 30fps experience to anyone with low-end hardware.

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Journey to the Savage Planet turned out to be the adventure that I was looking for. The game offers a nice balance of discovery and battles as you find yourself deeper into the strange environments. Sure, the animations and AI can be a bit wonky, but it doesn’t hinder the game’s sense of fun. While the main adventure can take around 10 hours to complete, those who set off the beaten path will get the most out of this very savage planet.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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