Publisher: Stage 2 Studios
Lifeless Planet is a game that began as a Kickstarter by creator David Board. His desire was to create a “Cold War era science fiction stor[y], posing questions about humankind’s desire for space travel.” What the game promises as a wonderful exploratory space adventure can at times be frustrating due to slight bugs, confusing story and odd camera angles. Though the environments are gorgeous and the premise is enticing, there isn’t enough depth in Lifeless Planet to keep gamers interested.
The player follows the story of an unnamed astronaut as he discovers that he is all alone on an unfamiliar planet. Exploring his surroundings, he discovers that Russia once inhabited it. The astronaut confronts a woman who speaks only in Russian and leaves behind her a green trail of footprints. She appears to warn the astronaut of something that is initially unclear and he decides to follow her.
Spiritual content: Alien races exist. At times there are short moments of fear and terror.
Violence: The player will come upon dead bodies and skeletons. You can see blood stains on the walls and ground. Man-eating plants will try to kill you and if they succeed there are scenes of your death.
Language/crude humor: None
Sexual content: The female alien is lightly dressed but nothing sexual.
Drug/alcohol use: None
Other negative themes: There are some jump scares and disturbing situations.
Positive Content: There is a focus on environmental conservation and bringing life to a dying planet.
Lifeless Planet is played in third person. The game consists of exploring and discovering what happened to the planet you have crash landed on. The puzzles to solve mostly involve moving an item from one area to the next to gain access to a previously inaccessible location. You have the ability to use a jetpack which allows a slight boost for jumping as well as collecting rocket fuel to assist in higher and longer jumps. The jetpack works throughout the game while the rocket fuel only works in certain areas and will notify the player when they no longer can use it. The majority of the game is spent jumping from one platform to the other to reach your next mission area.
There are areas that have hazards such as man-eating plants and magma which must be avoided. There are no prompts during gameplay, so the player must use a good amount of gaming instinct to figure out where to go next. After the third mission area, you will begin to see a green hue on the ground with footprints inside it. You discover that if you follow that path, you won’t be in as much danger.
Lifeless Planet is visually stunning when it comes to the atmosphere of the planet itself. The tone of solitude and desolation is set very early on is consistent throughout the game. Music will play sporadically during intense situations and is perfectly timed with how the developer wants you to feel. The voice acting is decent, but there were times when the astronaut should have displayed more emotion than he did. The rest of the dialogue is primarily Russian, though you read what is being said in English.
Most of the story is told via the discovery of communicator devices. You will find these devices in the environment and after picking them up, you are able to read a diary entry of one of the inhabitants of the planet. These help to develop the story and enhance the feeling of despair and loneliness.
The character model for the astronaut is well done, but the model for the alien woman is less than stellar. I actually found it quite annoying to look at her character because I felt like I was watching a bad commercial for a 3D modeling college. Thankfully, most of the time you see the female character is from a distance so there is less distraction there. However, having either the astronaut or the alien woman showing or speaking with more intense emotion would have added to the story.
I was excited when I saw the trailer for Lifeless Planet as I felt it held a lot of promise. The campaign took approximately 6 hours to complete. I got stuck in a crevice more than once which caused me to have to restart from the last checkpoint. By the end of the game I was completely lost on the story. I am unsure whether or not the game glitched or significant pieces of the actual story were missing toward the end.
There were multiple times toward the end where I felt the game could have come to conclusion, but it carried on unnecessarily. In addition to the main story, there was a weird side story about the astronaut’s wife which was unclear but somehow tied in to the game in a Twilight Zone sort of way. I enjoyed the despair of being all alone on this planet and some of the puzzles were moderately challenging. However, if the game had taken any longer to complete I would have grown impatient.
Lifeless Planet left me disappointed. It began with promise and an intriguing mystery to be solved, but the lack of depth and consistent story line caused the game to fall flat.
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The Bottom Line
Lifeless Planet makes a great attempt to bring an original concept to life but fails to deliver in key areas.