505 Games invited Culture of Gaming to check out some of their upcoming titles behind closed doors. I had the opportunity to play a build of Journey to the Savage Planet developed by Typhoon Studios. A Montreal indie development studio that is lead by veteran developers Alex Hutchison ( Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed), Yassine Riahi (Batman: Arkham Origins), and Reid Schneider(Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman: Arkham Knight). Journey to the Savage Planet is a first-person exploration adventure set on a vibrant and weird alien world. As an employee of Kindred Aerospace, it is the player’s job to explore and categorize alien flora and fauna in order to see if the planet is fit for human habitation.
A Savage Beauty
Journey to the Savage Planet is a light-hearted adventure with tons of charm and personality. There is humor, vibrant colors, weird and funny creature designs with a touch of verticality. During my time with this build, I got to experiment and see what my explorer avatar could do. The initial mission is straightforward, first I had to find out how to gather the materials, collect it, and use it to upgrade my spacecraft, The Javalin. Journey to the Savage Planet definitely isn’t just a relaxing exploration romp. There is more to this game than scanning and categorizing all the creatures and weird things you encounter. There are caverns to explore, materials to gather, and alien creatures to fight while upgrading all your equipment. Typhoon Studios is going for a linear experience that is different from other games like No Man’s Sky but the world they built is fun when compared to a randomly generated one.
I found myself going up or down different paths that caught my attention and it felt amazing when my curiosity was rewarded. The world is beautiful and the terrain is treacherous as giant plants can impede your progress. Exploring in AR-Y26 is delightful and I found myself intrigued by what else I could find and loved the challenge of planning out my best routes. At one point in the demo, I found this underground cavern with a statue holding an orb and it reminded me of the Chozo from the Metroid series. The game’s crafted world so far is one of the best selling points, as it was gratifying to explore using the toolset given and each location incorporates different biospheres. This savage planet is beautiful and I could see myself trying to explore every nook and cranny once the game is out.
One Step For Kindred Aerospace!
Journey to the Savage Planet starts off in a spaceship and the tutorial gives a quick rundown on what the players need to do. The Javalin is small but there are stations for modifying your blaster and various other improvements; such as a double jump. There is a vending machine that gives grub to attract monsters and there is a funny infomercial about your role working for Kindred Aerospace and the wonders of their all-in-one food substance “Grubby Goo.” Once outside, you practice your shooting and general movement while also being informed on using your scanner. While several features were not accessible during this build, you could clearly see that there is a progression system in place for modifying your blaster, jet pack, and other toys.
In the demo, I scanned everything that I could and it became clear that not everything is scannable which is good because there are a ton of different plants on AR-Y26. Each scanned object or creature is cataloged with tidbits of its nature or purpose. As I made my way to the next checkpoint in search of aluminum materials for my ship. I encountered a weird chicken, several weird chickens known as Pufferbirds who attack if provoked!
Weird Chickens…and More
Pufferbirds attack only if provoked but blasting these mutated, space chickens awarded my avatar with Silicone. Different creatures reward the player with different elements which can be converted and used to get better upgrades for your blaster or jetpack. This is what makes Journey to the Savage Planet unique, the combination of scanning, exploring, fighting and upgrading. While that may sound like several games that have come before, it is a lot harder to pull off and this game offers that experience with a whimsical sense of humor. The planet is filled with interesting locations that reward the player with health, upgrades, or transportation points. The combat held up well but I personally felt that the shooting mechanics are a bit stiff when you start tackling stronger and more dangerous creatures.
There was a combat challenge towards the upper levels of the first area which had me facing off with a pack of Pikemanders. Pikemanders are reptilian creatures that attack by rolling towards you like Sonic. They are defeated by shooting their weak points, which in this case, are two ball-shaped appendages attached toward the end of their tails. The challenge was a good introduction that Journey to the Savage Planet offers combat scenarios but the combat just isn’t there yet. Either the creatures need to be slowed down to match the relaxed, exploratory nature of the game or tweak player combat to be a bit more fluid. It’s not horrible and I’m sure with time these issues will be hashed out before Journey to the Savage Planet releases early next year.
There you have it! Journey to the Savage Planet is interesting. charming, and hilarious at times. I love the exploration and figuring out how to get to the next objective using the tools I have at my disposal. While the combat is serviceable, I feel that the combat could use some tweaking in order to handle some enemies with better precision. We’ll see how Journey to the Savage Planet evolves as it gets closer to its release window of early 2020 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Thanks for reading! and don’t forget to check out my interviews with USC Games Chair Danny Bilson, Shades of Magic author V.E. Schwab, and Black Panther’s Quest voice actor James Mathis III. For more great interviews, reviews, editorials, and news stay tuned to CultureOfGaming.com, or check us out on OpenCritic.com.