Journey to the Savage Planet is a game published by 505 Games, available from January 28, 2020.
Despite being the result of the collaboration of three veterans of the US triple A industry, the name of the Canadian Typhoon Studios will not sound particularly familiar to most people: the company was founded just in 2017 and with only one project in charge, announced towards the end of 2018 on the occasion of the Game Awards.
If it may seem difficult for a new studio to be noticed or highlighted by the public, one thing is certain: the creative team behind Journey to the Savage Planet had very clear ideas about what it intended to produce, and the result is a title that without shadow doubtful it exudes personality and offers to those who want to trust the company an experience with different surprises and aces up their sleeve.
Welcome to AR-Y 26
Stopping at first glance Journey to the Savage Planet is a rather deceptive product: the bright colors and the theme of "space explorer" immediately bring to mind the tones of No Man's Sky, as well as the title leads to think of a survival experience sci-fi prey to wild and hostile nature.
Although wild hostility does not lack in the proposed adventure, in reality this is more of an obstacle than a main course: Typhoon Studios deliberately chooses to focus more on exploring the bizarre colored world proposed, pairing it with a rich and lively personality that reminds more the tones of the Rare of Conker's Bad Fur Day.
Typhoon puts us in the shoes of an astronaut, a new (and apparently unique) member of Kindred's new aerospace program whose mission is to identify whether the alien planet AR-Y 26 is habitable and, if not, squeeze it out of every possible resource.
After an irreverent introduction, however, it becomes increasingly clear that the new world we have the task of exploring is more than a wild and uncontaminated heath, putting us in front of the irrefutable traces of an advanced civilization.
Thus began an irreverent adventure with the most satirical tones possible accompanied by EKO, our almost fully functioning artificial intelligence with a pungent personality and cynicism, towards the discovery of the mysteries hidden behind this alien land.
Walking in space
Journey to the Savage Planet is a first-person action platformer whose adventure, structurally, resembles that of a Metroid Prime: through our scanner we can in fact analyze every little detail of AR-Y 26 going to fill the EKO codex with information and updating our leaders on Earth, while armed with a laser gun (which we will have to procure through the instruments of our ship) we will be able to acquire materials to procure the equipment that Kindred, to save on the budget, has well thought of not providing us in favor of a 3D printer with which to train what we need (as long as we provide the resources necessary for printing).
These enhancements range from the improvement of our faithful weapon to new and important gadgets such as grappling hooks and jetpacks that will allow us to reach new and unexplored corners of the planet.
In addition to this, however, the game is a blatant caricature which, without taking itself seriously, subjects us to the absurdity and delirium of out-of-control corporations.
Journey to the Savage Planet is in fact set in an indeterminate future where the Earth has now undergone climate collapse, ironically at the hands of the same company that sent us to explore, forcing humanity to find a new home.
Naturally, however, the search for corporations like Kindred is more oriented to monopolize and monetize the galaxy rather than to the collective interest of its consumers, and here we find ourselves bombarded with advertisements and messages that remind us of how irrelevant and expendable we are. , bound to Kindred by our contract which provides for our ethically questionable resurrection (accompanied by the implantation of our memories in the new body) indefinitely until the full fulfillment of our mission.
This demeaning environment is more of a ridiculous and caricatural subtext to the Wall-E or Borderlands rather than an industrialized dystopia, and in its talk of certain topics it remains in the presentation of a humanity that has certainly lost a few wheels more than a decayed society that has reduced its planet to the bone.
Variety in small doses
The lively and colorful AR-Y 26 is a planet inhabited by creatures with the most bizarre features, by round and plump birds with spherical eyes and disproportionate to ferocious and hostile predators with an undefined appearance, with every element capable of conveying the comedy that impregnates the whole game, prompting the player to explore with the promise of returning ridiculous and funny descriptions, often commented directly by EKO, sometimes without even something useful and substantial to say but always hilarious.
The most action part of the game is minimalist but functional, accompanying consumables of various uses to the aforementioned gun of order, with which to face the dangerous creatures that inhabit the planet (or do horrible things to the most harmless ones for the sake of our pockets).
Although the controls are sometimes a bit cumbersome, the constant movement in the semi-uncontaminated nature of AR-Y 26 is a continuous growth as the different upgrades and upgrades are acquired that, in full Metroidvania style, will allow us sometimes to enter completely new areas.
Although there is a form of crafting and resource gathering, it is far from the tediousness that survival often submits to players, limiting research to three resources (carbon, aluminum and silicon), preferring a more linear approach and attributable to a skill tree than to a sophisticated system of collecting schemes and plans for the development of tools.
This allows you to assemble a more than decent arsenal even just by going to collect what you find following the tracks of the main adventure, giving resources the function of encouraging exploration through the guarantee that the next enhancement will be able to enrich the style game with new and optional skills.
In the same way, their presence encourages experimentation by allowing the player to deviate from the linear paths of adventure, something that can be verified already in the first few bars of the game.
One of the first missions we will have to think about, for example, will include finding an alien league with which we will have to repair our ramshackle ship, identified by the reconnaissance drones that Kindred has kindly provided us by giving us a large and bright target indicator on our compass.
Exploring a little bit, however, it is possible to find a similar league much closer to the designated destination, allowing us with a little patience and meticulousness to complete this necessary step of our adventure in a shorter time: surprisingly, the boys of Typhoon have contemplated this path which would typically be seen as an "involuntary deviation" from the game tracks, letting EKO congratulate us on finding an alternative solution to our problem and establishing, through this small interaction, that the order of action presented by the game is not necessarily the only one, rewarding the exploration of the player with an effective progression.
This ability to get out of the linear path set by Typhoon helps to make our trip more personal, especially when it is possible to access certain skills ahead of schedule or to get around obstacles that would require an upgrade through the resources available to us.
These small details represent the true variety of the Journey to the Savage Planet experience, a rather contained and completable game with a good percentage in a few hours, but open to so many variables that the player gets lost in wondering what he can and cannot do, looking for a quality and variety rich in a few things rather than a long and exhausting adventure in an indefinitely wide and open world that risks falling into the repetitiveness of its gameplay loop.
Although not exceptional or perfect in its components, therefore, Journey to the Savage Planet is undoubtedly a unique title, which prefers to hit in the right places in a precise way rather than hitting many aspects in a superficial way, going to constitute what could be defined today a white fly of the industry panorama giving a focused and modest experience at a reduced price, a short and satisfying adventure to take a look at.