Lifeless Planet Review
Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition hit Xbox One on May 13, 2015, following the successful Kickstarter funding by independent developer Stage 2 Studios. The game first released on PC in June of 2014 and a few weeks later was released on Mac. Almost a year after that we see Lifeless Planet on Xbox One. With a number of the original bugs being fixed, additional audio and text logs to collect and numerous visual upgrades throughout the landscapes, we sat down to check it out.
The mysterious space adventure game attempts to combine a few different genres which were enjoyable at first but later on throws off the focus of the game. If one or two genres were focused on in detail instead of several this wouldn’t have been a concern. We start off on a planet, you, as the astronaut are stuck in a strange, empty area with no assistance. Your first task is to find a supply of oxygen as it is running very low. The oxygen and every other oxygen tank you locate last for about eight in game hours. As we collect the oxygen we find out that your partners were separated from you during the crash and you set your sights on finding them.
As we progress through the first level we start to see items for collection. Letters, audio logs, rock and planet formations are all items you can collect. The storytelling progression occurs when you locate these letters and audio logs which play out what has happened here on the planet. There aren’t any items located out of the way so the gamer doesn’t have to search high and low for all collectibles. Even with all of the items collected the game fails to provide us with a satisfying story.
Lifeless Planet combines platforming with puzzle solving through a series of terrains which initially look boring and empty, later become colorful and interesting. It doesn’t ever reach the visual highs I would expect from a game like this but it does still give us something to enjoy. There are moments when you jump from boulder to boulder and think how amazing this is. There are unfortunately other instances in the dark levels when you curse the game for not being able to tell what is safe to stand on and what cliff ends your current run.
The mechanics can treat you in the best possible way at times but then Jackal and Hyde you and completely act up other times. If you are going for the achievement to complete the game without dying you will have to be very careful prior to landing as the landing impact seems to be very different each time. You also need to pay attention at your distance and how much of a jump you give yourself when traveling from platform to platform. Some jumps can be perfect but there are times for whatever reason your next jump is too short or too long causing either your death or a miss on the platform and having to attempt that again.
Stage 2 Studios creates a heavy atmospheric experience with its audio presentation and the visuals of an empty planet giving the viewer a feeling of complete emptiness around them. You know you are the only one that can figure this out now and you alone will complete your missions. Stage 2 Studios has an impressive soundtrack filled with ambient sounds to make your world not only feel the way it feels but come to life.
Lifeless Planet isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t a great one either, as it misses the mark in most of what it tries to do. It feels like an ambitious title doing so much but not a great job at doing just one thing. If they had spent a little more time focusing on key points in the game we could see a higher appreciation for the game. Lifeless Planet still offers moments of enjoyment, just not continuous fun throughout.
Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition is available now on Xbox One for $19.99.