We here at Guide Stash tend to play a lot of survival games that rely on exploration and discovery of strange new lands. Journey to the Savage Planet by Typhoon Studios and published by 505 Games combines many expected features, tosses in some great humor and co-op gameplay, and stirs it all up with colorful environments.
Are We Sure This Is the Right Planet?
In Journey to the Savage Planet, you play as a recruit of Kindred Aerospace, the 4th-best interstellar exploration company. You’re delivered to a supposedly uninhabited planet and charged with cataloging its natural habitats. Of course, being employed by the 4th-best company means you immediately run into unexpected problems. Your spaceship has taken damage and needs repair, and the planet you’re on is clearly not as empty as anticipated and, in fact, not the planet you were aiming for at all. So far, so good.
As you begin to explore, investigate fauna and some rather curious creatures, you’re guided by your ship’s computer and given several tasks. These range from reaching debris from your ship to strange energy readings that may help you upgrade some of your gear. You’ll eventually discover a teleportation system that lets you quickly traverse the four unique biomes. There is a sense of Metroidvania in Journey to the Savage Planet as many areas are inaccessible to you until you’ve upgraded enough of your equipment. Did I mention that the teleportation system essentially kills you and reconstitutes a clone of you in the new location? This is also how death is handled in this game, and perhaps it’s this great sense of humor that Typhoo Studios has implemented, that made the many times I died seem less frustrating than expected.
The overall story isn’t necessarily a masterpiece of world-building, but it’s serviceable enough to keep you interested and pushing forward. The fact that everything surrounding this planet, from the native inhabitants to the full-motion video advertisements played inside your ship aim to make you laugh, means that my time spent in Journey to the Savage Planet was extremely satisfying.
My Apologies, I Didn’t Mean to Step on That
There is definitely a bit of a Metroidvania feeling to Journey to the Savage Planet’s four different biomes. Until you have gathered enough materials and scanned enough items to upgrade your suit’s various enhancements, you’ll be kept out of many areas of the game. You’ll often stand in front of a sheer cliff face or canyon too wide to jump, knowing full well that in a little while, you’ll have some way to traverse this obstacle. Through a variety of suit upgrades, such as booster jets, grappling tools, and more, those areas will eventually open up. The teleportation network allows you to reasonably quickly backtrack to areas that you were stuck at before, which I much appreciated.
Your journal takes the form of a typical mission tracker, allowing you to have a couple of missions tracked in your HUD at any given time. I found those trackers to be slightly less helpful than I’d like. It seems that the marker on your HUD will always point directly at the location of your destination, but many times your path to it will be anything but linear. So there were many instances where I found myself at a dead end, with a HUD marker pointing me right towards my target but no way of getting there. It’s undoubtedly a little bit frustrating, but I found that once I stopped relying on this tool and just spent more time exploring the regions, I eventually found my way.
Combat in Journey to the Savage Planet is relatively basic as you encounter a variety of creatures and natural enemies that stand in your way. Many can be avoided or overcome with simple weapons, but some require some more ingenious methods. There’s something quite satisfying about throwing a can of treats near a carnivorous plant only to see some cute wildlife rush towards certain death. I’m not sure where the various containers of these treats came from, but presumably, they dropped from my extremely well-built spaceship. In the end, it doesn’t matter because the puzzles and obstacles placed in your path are never frustrating and always made me feel accomplished once I got past them.
Optimized for the Fourth-Best Console
Journey to the Savage Planet is available on a variety of systems, but I played my review copy on the lowly Xbox One S, and it performed admirably. Loading times were very much acceptable, and the worlds created by Typhoon Studios look beautiful on my 4K TV. I’m confident that the graphical fidelity would be even higher on a top-end gaming PC, but the experience on the console was more than adequate.
I highly recommend playing Journey to the Savage Planet with a friend in its online co-op mode as it will just heighten the enjoyment of its puzzles and well-crafted environments. Even playing solo, however, I heartily recommend Journey to the Savage Planet to anyone that enjoys the survival and exploration genre and has a good sense of humor.