Journey to the Savage Planet took me by surprise. I had heard little to nothing about the title until right around launch time, but even then it looked similar to No Man’s Sky as the player walked around scanning things to learn about them. Games like No Man’s Sky are something I generally don’t take to, but I took a chance on Journey to the Savage Planet and I’m glad I did, because the two are nothing alike.
Despite a lot of titles wanting to provide players with large, open world experiences, Typhoon Studios’ first title instead opts to have players jump into a contained world that provides a smaller experience. It’s something I really like, because I often don’t have time to play some of the larger games out there, and having something I can jump into for an hour at a time and still make decent progress is nice. Some might find it a little too brief, and to be honest, you can burn through the whole game in a handful of hours (or less), but you’d be missing out on a ton of hidden collectibles and creatures to discover.
The real joy in Journey to the Savage Planet is just discovering. Discovering the uncharted (and supposedly uninhabited) world of Ary-26. Players will be in the shoes of a member of Kindred Aerospace learning about the planet to see if it’s fit for human life. There are even hidden planetary secrets to discover as you continue your survey of the planet. I still haven’t hit 100% completion, and I won’t return to Earth until I do.
Most of your time will be spent swinging around grapple points or platforming around floating islands. Journey to the Savage Planet is heavy on the platforming element, and lets players jet around the varied locations with ease. There are plenty of different local creatures to discover as well, some hostile, some peaceful. At the very beginning of the game players will use a 3-D printer to gain access to a small pistol. It’s not very powerful, but it gets the job done.
The combat is pretty simple, and any enemies that don’t take damage from regular shots have weak points to take them down. There isn’t a whole lot of variety in the actual style of combat, but luckily there are enough different enemies that the way they behave help bring some variety to the enemy encounters.
Players will find themselves returning to the 3-D printer relatively often in order to use found resources to craft new upgrades and skills. Journey to the Savage Planet is very similar to the exploration of Metroid Prime. As you unlock new skills, new routes and collectibles open up, giving players a reason to go back and explored already completed areas. The upgrades here are pretty standard flare like faster reloads, or more ammo in a clip, but the ones that open new areas are more substantial.
The lush world of Ary-26 is beautiful throughout too. Things ran really smoothly on the PC version, even as I was flying from island to island exploring lush jungles and lava caves. There are a wide variety of differing biomes to explore, but the most frequent ones consist of different types of trees and vines. Enemies hang out around watering holes, and the cartoonish exaggerated enemy designs are not only well conceived, they’re fun to discover. Journey to the Savage Planet is really pretty, just not in the usual sense of the word.
If exploring alone isn’t your thing, players can take a friend into the world with them. It’s something I didn’t have a chance to experience, as most of my friends play mostly on console, but it’s a nice feature for those that want more co-op adventures. This isn’t a difficult title, so I’m a bit worried that going into things with a friend will only make things even easier, but the combat isn’t the focus here anyway.
My biggest complaint with Journey to the Savage Planet actually lies in the last hour of the game. After spending all this time exploring and discovering fauna and creatures, it devolves into a shooter just for the sake of it. The entire last hour is spent going from one room to the next destroying enemies in order to find a few destroyable pods that block progression to the final boss. Things became far more predictable in that ending sequence, and Journey to the Savage Planet suffers for it.
It’s funny, because I went into my playthrough basically blind on Journey to the Savage Planet. Even though it’s short, it stays incredibly focused throughout, and continues to smartly progress players through areas while giving them reasons to explore and discover. The end reward for completion is something I’ll be jumping back in for, even though the last hour of the game left a really sour taste in my mouth. Overall though, this is a really great first outing from Typhoon Studios, and I’m looking forward to the next quirky adventure from these industry veterans.
Journey to the Savage Planet is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on a PC copy of the game provided by the publisher. Purchases are available here.