It’s not often a studio is acquired before it’s even shipped a game, but that’s exactly what happened to Journey to the Savage Planet’s Montreal-based creator.
Typhoon was acquired by Google months before its maiden release. Considering the pedigree of its 30-person team – it boasts creatives behind franchises such as Far Cry and Batman: Arkham Knight as its founders – it’s perhaps less of a surprise the Stadia firm was convinced to splash the cash.
But Savage Planet will undoubtedly have made an impression too.
First-person survival games are ten-a-penny on today’s storefronts, but Savage Planet is anything but ordinary; this No-Man’s-Sky-meets-Metroid-Prime adventure has players bitch-slapping alien critters into organic meat grinders, rocket boosting and swinging across planetary skate parks and, picking through flatulence in search of precious minerals.
Taking control of a galaxy-trekking explorer, players arrive at the weird and wonderful world of AR-Y26, a suspiciously vibrant uncharted planet you’ve been sent to evaluate. Your employer, Kindred Aerospace, proudly boasts of its reputation as the “fourth best” interstellar exploration company, the first gag in a script that hits far more than it misses.
Players must leave the ship to explore – and survive – AR-Y26 by encountering creatures and gathering resources until you have enough to upgrade your equipment and repair your transport. A second player can join in via co-op, which adds to the enjoyment.
“The seed tools are a real highlight, with players able to lure alien creatures towards traps, create makeshift bouncing platforms, custom grapple points and more.”
The core of Savage Planet is exploration, with players able to progress at their own pace in what amounts to a more laid back approach than what we’re used to from this genre. Waypoints and radio chatter are used to guide the player to their next objective, but otherwise it’s a refreshingly hands-off experience, with no map to speak of and power-ups which aren’t always explicitly explained.
The titular Savage Planet is consistently colourful and compelling to explore, with a bizarre discovery nearly always lying behind the next floating, alien hill. The number of collectibles and secrets in the world will please completionists, with players able to scan almost everything into a giant catalogue of the game world.
It helps that the tone of the game is consistently entertaining: As you progress, an AI companion frequently drops delightfully dark quips about how the game world’s teleporters are actually killing and reprinting the player, or suggestions that strength-giving power-ups are actually replacing the protagonist’s bones with alien tumours.
Your tools include a gun – of course – as well as a scanning visor for uncovering information on alien flora and fauna, and a variety of inventive alien seeds you can use to manipulate the environment.
The latter are a real highlight, with players able to lure alien creatures towards traps, create makeshift bouncing platforms, custom grapple points and more. As you progress through the adventure, you’ll also acquire enough resources – or defeat enough boss creatures – to add new suit powers, such as a jet pack booster or grapple beam, which add further variety.
In true Metroidvania fashion, the world is full of secrets and inaccessible areas that can only be unlocked once you’ve acquired this new equipment.
By the end of the modestly-sized campaign (you can see the credits within 8 hours, although that’s with half of the game content untouched) players will be grapple beaming through the sky, swinging from one floating island to the next like a parkour superhero.
As you might expect from a mid-priced title from a new team, Savage Planet can be a little rough around the edges, with some frustrating enemies and gunplay that often feels clumsy and substandard. However, these are small criticisms in the context of an overall memorable and well designed space adventure.
Typhoon’s 30-person team should be applauded for creating a confident and inventive adventure in a crowded genre, and with their debut title no less. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
A memorable, if modest, open-world adventure with inventive mechanics and enjoyable exploration.
- A weird and wonderful world to explore
- Interesting creatures and inventive mechanics
- Consistently humorous
- Gunplay can feel clumsy
- Will be over too soon for some