Journey to the Savage Planet (JTTSP) is a short spacefaring adventure, and while your time in the game is brief, it’s unlikely to leave you wanting more.
It’s a first-person shooter, although you’ll be slapping enemies aside just as often as you fire at them. Brightly coloured and fairly expansive, the game has all the right ingredients, but the ratios are all off and the whole mixture is undercooked.
The premise of the game is simple enough; you’re a coloniser seeking out a new world for humanity, tasked with surveying the planet. Though the game doesn’t fall into the racist tropes the words ‘coloniser’ and ‘savage’ might throw up, it also doesn’t go anywhere near enough to justify using them.
JTTSP has a hugely satirical tone, but just what it’s satirising is anyone’s guess. A vague dig at capitalism, perhaps, although considering you must kill everything you come across and strip away natural resources for personal gain, it adheres to capitalism far more than it mocks it. Journey to the Savage Planet is about as anti-capitalist as a bottle of Coca-Cola with a Pride flag.
The gameplay itself is nothing more than average. Traversal is occasionally pretty fun, although the grapple system is unreliable and lacks the fluidity of Marvel’s Spider-Man, Bioshock: Infinite or even Sunset Overdrive. The third example there became a cult hit, famous for not being famous, but JTTSP will scarcely be remembered at all. The tasks it doles out turn repetitive rather quickly, while the lack of a proper map in a game like this, where you literally play as a cartographer, is astounding. Great visuals and imaginative creatures work in its favour, but there’s nothing too new, all things considered.
The slight semblance of a story comes from the fact that the planet has an intricately designed tower, suggesting there is in fact intelligent life on the planet. Once you find that life though, there’s no attempt at communication or understanding: you just have to try and kill it.
For a game with ‘Journey’ in the title, there’s a distinct lack of progress, storytelling or focus.
That final boss is Teratomo, a warty, blob-like creature, and one of very few actual bosses in the game. The battle has a very dated, ‘90s platformer feel to it, only without the rose-tinted nostalgia. It’s one of the few moments of real challenge and feels completely at odds with the feel of the rest of the game.
Overall, JTTSP is a fun way to spend a few hours, and you have to give the game credit that it never asks you to invest much more time. However, with its troublesome title, weak satire and incessant AI assistant, this is a game which never stops talking but has nothing to say.
Featured image credit: @CorRaven (Twitter)
Last modified: 9th March 2020