Review: Lifeless Planet
When hearing a game called Lifeless Planet, you’d probably expect to find a lifeless planet, and you’d be right. There isn’t much to see in terms of the world, as you’ll be finding remnants of nature, civilization and technology. Exploring this unnamed planet is what you’ll be doing the majority of the time, and minor puzzle solving breaks up the exploration. Lifeless Planet evokes atmosphere and did its job with keeping me entertained, but the game drags toward its ending and the payoff wasn’t enough to be a memorable experience.
Our character, who is also unnamed, ventures on a one way trip to a planet they know nothing about. He decides to go on this venture because he doesn’t have many ties to Earth and part of his backstory is revealed while progressing through the game. Lifeless Planet is an exploration game. There is no combat, but there is some heavy platforming at times. Your character has a double jump (thanks to his jetpack), and at times you’ll be given extra fuel for the jetpack, which allows you jump even higher. Throughout the adventure, your oxygen supply will need to be replenished. The jetpack fuel and oxygen supply don’t need to be monitored, but the game makes you feel like you should be aware of it. The game tells you when you get to a certain point that you are low on oxygen or when your fuel has been depleted. The experience feels disconnected when you go through about 15 minutes of gameplay and need oxygen, only to then go another hour and not need oxygen at all. Needing oxygen or fuel are just scripted moments and they don’t feel like any of them are entirely important.
The unnamed character will traverse many areas of the lifeless planet and while some of the areas are different and stand out, none of them are entirely memorable. The game is most interesting early on, as more and more questions arise about the status of the planet. Recordings and notes from those who once inhabited the planet do the bulk of the story telling, and it works well. The experience is enhanced by these notes, and without them, the game would feel even more lifeless. While the game is an exploratory game, it is also linear. It will be rare when you don’t know where to go, and even when you aren’t sure, you’ll find out what you’ll need to do fairly quickly. There are still opportunities to venture off the beaten path, as more collectibles can be found.
While the game is most interesting near the beginning, the game does tend to drag towards the middle and end of the game. Other than some dull platforming sections, I was mostly holding up on the analog stick to move my character forward without any real motivation to keep going. New mysteries begin to crop up, but I didn’t feel compelled to really find out what happened to the planet. Through the dull time, I was starting to forget what was happening and why I was going to the places I was going. Lifeless Planet feels like it goes on too long and it should have ended way sooner than it did. It took me about 5 or 6 hours to get through the game and even with that short of playtime, I was starting to wonder when the game would end.
What kept me going was the sense of atmosphere the game evoked in its visual design and soundtrack. Most of the planet looks the same for the most part, but the lighting in the game changes how the game is shown. The desert like look of the game is present for most of the game, but some minor color changes later in the experience does lead to some nice visuals. In terms of soundtrack, Lifeless Planet is mostly silent, but when the music kicks in, it hits the mark. Music gives off an isolationist feel to the experience, and you feel alone and empty when playing.
Lifeless Planet isn’t necessarily an experience that is needed to be had, but if you do journey to the planet, there is some good to be found. The game’s best moments are found at the beginning of the adventure, but even getting through the dull middle and end of the game, there isn’t a satisfying payoff that fully wraps the experience up. Much of the game could have been condensed down to a 3-4 hour experience, and I think it would have been better.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Notes, diaries and recordings
What I Dislike:
- Went on too long
- Boring middle
- Oxygen supply mechanic