Game Title: Lifeless Planet – Premiere Edition
Company: Serenity Forge
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital (Releases September 06, 2018)
Battery Life: 2.75 – 3.5 hours
Download: 909 MB
Science Fiction is one of my favorite settings in media, and I always get hooked into a game when it has to do with Sci-Fi. Some of the only FPS games I like are science fiction shooters, and I love a good adventure game when it comes to traveling beyond the confines of Planet Earth. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed Megaton Rainfall, the super-hero sim that I reviewed last month.
It’s also what got me interested in Lifeless Planet, a 2014 adventure game that takes place on a faraway planet and starts an astronaut. Just seeing images and videos of the astronaut walking around a foreign landscape got me wanting to play and cover it.
So, thanks to the kind folks at Serenity Forge for providing me with a review key, I’m ret-2-go! Here is my review of Lifeless Planet: Premiere Edition for the Nintendo Switch!
In the near future, a team of astronauts is sent to a planet filled with life 15 light years from Earth. You are one of those astronauts as you crash-land and find the planet is actually a barren wasteland. Upon searching for your missing crew, you find a Russian-made town and lab on the planet. Your mission then quickly turns from exploration to figuring out how the Russians got there, and what happened to them.
The story aspect of LP is something that interested me, because it is a big what-if scenario about humans stumbling upon a distant planet and a story about the planet, itself. Although I’ll admit the lack of character growth of the main cast is disappointing. The game sets up some really interesting backgrounds for one of the main characters, but doesn’t do a lot with it by the time the game tells you. In one way, it seems like a different way of doing it, but also feels like a missed opportunity with it being revealed so close to the game’s climax.
However, I found the large amount of background information on the planet and the Russians to be intriguing. The lack of development of the main cast made me that much more interested in the lore and finding out what happened on the planet before the astronauts’ arrival.
Lifeless Planet is a third-person adventure game with a large emphasis on platforming. Each of the game’s chapters has you going through large environments and platforming around in your space suit to find more information about what’s going on as well as to open a way towards the next area and next chapter.
Progression is pretty simple. In each area, you have a fairly-linear path to follow with logs for backstory and hints about the area shining in the environment, itself. The task at hand isn’t hard to find, as most of the areas that you need to navigate to look a little different from other areas and, while the areas are large, they have boundaries that make it simple to get a gist of where you can and can’t go so you don’t miss your target and objective.
The way you move around and platform is with your space suit and its jet-pack. You are able to use the jet-pack for double-jumps that let you jump further and even have a moonwalk-like float at times. There are many suit-related features for the game, included areas where you have to rush across the area to refill your oxygen supply without passing out or getting a temporary boost in your jetpack fuel to allow you to reach much greater distances when platforming across large gaps and cliffs.
The game also has some light puzzle elements with pushing objects around to open new terrain and using an extendable robot arm to open doors, though the majority is exploration and platforming. The platforming, itself, is pretty basic, but it has its rewarding moments. Every time I came across a canister of jetpack fuel to greatly extend my jetpack distance, it brought a smile to my face as I jumped over cliffs and jetpacked my way across huge distances.
There’s also how empty the world feels, which is a huge contradiction and conflict in my mind. A lot of these areas seems very empty. With no combat to speak of and the “enemy” of the game only showing itself as anything more than stationary terrain for a few of the game’s levels, it leaves the game feeling very empty, both in environments and in what you do.
But there’s conflict because it makes perfect sense for the game to be set up like that. The plot is about you exploring an almost completely-dead planet. Despite how much I feel most areas are barren and empty, it feels in tune with the game’s setting, so I’ve been in conflict about that from a review standpoint ever since I got through the game’s first couple hours.
And speaking of hours, let’s talk about the longevity of this experience. On average, you should be able to clear the game your first try in around 5 hours or so, depending on how many times you get stuck and whether or not you refer to walkthroughs to help you find the right path to navigate. After you beat the game, you’re free to replay the game from any chapter, but there’s no extra reward or feature in repeating the game. When you see the ending, you’ve seen all you can outside of finding lore files you missed.
Controlling the game isn’t difficult to do, though it is worth noting that the game has some input lag, depending on the controller being used to play the game. Whenever I would move the camera on the Pro Controller, there would be input lag every time I tried to move it. If I switched to the Joy-Cons, it would be fine, so this confused me quite a bit. This input lag was not present in handheld mode, either. It only happens to me when I use the Pro Controller.
The actual control scheme is pretty easy. You move with the Left Analog Stick and move the camera with the Right Analog Stick. The R trigger is used to turn on your flashlight and the other trigger buttons are used during puzzles.
The action buttons are pretty simple. B is used for jumping and using the jet-pack and Y is used for interacting with objects. X starts up the robot arm puzzles, and A is used for canceling out of options. Interestingly-enough, the game has the PlayStation/Xbox-style of select and cancel buttons, with B being select in the Main menu instead of A.
Graphically, the game’s visuals certainly fit its barren design. There’s not a huge amount of detail to be had, but it fits the barren wasteland setting of the game. The Switch version does have some slight blurring on the space suit model, but nothing too drastic.
Performance I have no issues with. The framerate remains steady throughout the entire game and it doesn’t have any problems running.
One thing I will criticize is the game’s lack of music. I do like the music that’s in the game, but it feels like it’s in too few places to be something to praise the game for. Every time a big event or some high-tension scene is about to play, you get some great, suspenseful music. But the majority of the game has exploring with nothing to listen to but the distant sound of the wind and, sometimes, nothing at all.
As I’ve said in other reviews, games with graphical styles that aren’t made to be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen typically will benefit the handheld Switch audiences in terms of Battery Life. Here are my Battery Times, from 100% to 0%
Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 46 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 2 hours, 57 minutes
Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 06 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 20 minutes
While not on the scale of games like Monster Hunter, you can easily get through most of this game in a single charge, which is very convenient for on-the-go gamers.
In conclusion, Lifeless Planet is an intriguing game for anyone who loves science fiction and what-if scenarios regarding humanity’s journey into the stars. Although the game is brought down aspects like a lack of character depth and music, plus a short campaign for the asking price, it’s still worth a look if you’re a sci-fi fan who wants some space-suit platforming on the go.
Final Score: 7/10