Team 17’s latest game takes place on a strange but beautiful alien planet but you’re not going to have a lot of time to admire the view in this action packed platform puzzle adventure.
As an un-named character with no backstory, you’re initially thrust upon a crumbling planet, injured and with just one initial goal; run forward. So it starts of feeling a lot like an endless runner. This changes as soon as you realise what’s going on. The planet is under attack from strange 60’s sci-fi style robots and you need to use stealth as well as those running shoes to escape.
The game’s initial moments get you used to the basic controls, running, jumping and navigating the 2.5D environments. The impressive looking backgrounds sometimes need to be interacted with, fauna and giant dinosaur-like animals inhabit this world and it’s never clear at first whether they’ll be trouble or just pleasant background scenery. Thankfully, this is a game that wants you to learn from your mistakes and it places you back in a safe place ready to try again fairly fast.
It feels a lot like a modern take on Another World at this point, though deaths are rarely as harsh and sudden as in that classic. The art style and emphasis on backgrounds also helps to reinforce the feel of the classic platformer as does the constant threat of danger.
Once the game has thrown the basics at you it gets a little more inventive. Soon you’ll learn that day and night can be manipulated, giving different functions to flowers or creatures and creating puzzles for you to solve. It feels a lot like Limbo or other indie puzzle games at this point, not a bad thing when the game could have easily turned out to be a fairly basic platformer.
Planet Alpha does start to wear out its ideas towards the end, using the time mechanic a little too sparingly and falling back on the standard platform tropes more than it should, it’s not a long game either. Taking in the wonderful art, set pieces and scenery can alleviate this issue, however, to some extent, though a deeper story might have also been welcome.
Certainly one of the best looking indie releases this year, Planet Alpha has a mix of good ideas and solid platforming that just about sustains its run time. It’s not a hugely deep game but if you’re a fan of classic platform adventures like Another World then it’s well worth your time.