Developer: Stage 2 Studios
Platform: Xbox One, Windows
Originally released in 2014 on Windows, Lifeless Planet was one of the highlights of Microsoft’s E3 Briefing in June 2014 during an ‘Indie Game’ highlight reel. Gripped by the name and concept, I was immediately hyped and swore off looking at any videos or reviews until I could play it myself.
Almost one year later and the game finally got its console debut in May 2015 on the Xbox One. After completing the game in a single sitting, did it live up to my expectations…?
Without trying to give too much away… Lifeless Planet puts you into the shoes of a, presumably, American Astronaut who jets off across space with his crew in order to find and conduct research on a planet just like our own. Unfortunately some complications occur, your space shuttle crashes and your crew is gone.
It is now your mission to survive and explore, finding out why this planet is so barren and devoid of any life as well as coming to grips with the many twists within the plot. Why are there remnants of a Russian civilization on this planet? What has happened to the supposedly Earth-like conditions of this planet?
The story, as long as you are paying attention to it as you collect notes and diaries throughout the game, is by far the strongest aspect of Lifeless Planet.
You can run, jump, shine a flashlight and even sometimes jump a little bit higher than normal if you have the power-up!
As the name would suggest, Lifeless Planet is set on a dull, empty world with nothing on it. It is portrayed as a 3D Platformer with puzzles, but the reality is that it is more akin to a running simulator.
You run from Location A to Location B across an, admittedly, large and open world – it’s just unfortunate that there is nothing actually in this world. Despite the openness and size of the planet, the game is extremely linear. Paths lead the way everywhere and there is no real need to stray from the path whatsoever. Even the few collectibles are all located along the path, and it is pretty hard to miss any of them – again requiring no exploration or deviation from the path.
Unfortunately that’s about the extent of this game.
Sometimes you’ll need to jump from platform to platform in order to advance, but there is no real challenge. You might die a few times here and there, but your deaths will likely be attributed to misjudging the distance of a jump.
Lifeless Planet does contain some puzzles, however they are extremely simple:
- Move a boulder to an obvious location.
- Push blocks into place
- Find a power switch
That just about covers it in regards to the puzzles.
Lifeless Planet’s visuals are great and really provide a great atmosphere for an otherwise average game. Environments, as empty as they might be, look great and ‘believable’, like it is something straight out of your favourite Sci-Fi show.
There’s not really much else to say here, I’m afraid.
Despite the bashing that I have been giving Lifeless Planet in this review, it does have its charm and is an interesting take on the exploration genre – if you can call it that. Built around the idea that games don’t need enemies, the storytelling is compelling despite how average the gameplay might be. It wasn’t quite the revolutionary space exploration journey I hoped it might have been, but it’s still charming in its own little way.
Lifeless Planet is short, however. Chances are that you’ll finish this game in a single sitting – 2 hours it took myself, and I wasn’t even rushing!