Lifeless Planet Reviewed
By Megan Mellers
Everyone knows it’s hard to watch kids grow up. One minute they’re cuddling on the couch with a coloring book, and the next they’re packing for college. Some kids do it gracefully, earning lots of nods and smiles and commendations. Others…well, others maybe make you cringe a little.
Lifeless Planet falls in that second category. After writing a pretty glowing Early Access review for the game, I was stoked to pick up the full version. I expected that my Early Access experience was just a taste, and that the scale, scope, and pace would expand exponentially. But they just didn’t. The game seems hobbled by the fact that it was limited to one creator’s brain. It kept its eyes on the path in front of it and only took one step at a time, always dragging behind the player’s imagination and attention span.
Players take the role of an astronaut stranded on a mysterious planet, trying to uncover its mysteries. Driven by platformer-esque gameplay, players use their trusty jetpack to trek through abandoned towns, ghostly forests, and dry wastelands. The gameplay is solid, but very repetitive. The “levels” tend to be a bit too similar, or too jarringly diverse. Both these issues that could be forgiven, considering the game’s humble origins, but they do throw a lot of pressure on the story to be exceptional, which is where independently developed games often shine.
In this case, however, the tale never quite takes off. As the hero trails a mysterious alien woman, he discovers a lot of facts and mysteries that don’t quite gel together. Rather than growing more epic, the stiff cutscenes and text narration seemed to become increasingly disjointed and perfunctory as the game continued.
I felt frustrated and let down as each level failed to push the story forward in the way I desired. But in the end, I’m not sure my assessment is very fair. The game is small, and there is no doubt that every inch of it is filled with thought and effort. While some of its creative decisions drag it down, it can still provide a worthwhile 4-5 hours of entertainment. If the game had not been so thoroughly hyped during Beta, and had I gone into it with no expectations, I probably would have enjoyed myself much more. In the end, then, while Lifeless Planet did not live up to my expectations, I’d have to say that the game is still worth playing, if only to appreciate the labor, enthusiasm, and creativity that was poured into it.
You can check out Lifeless Planet for yourself by purchasing it from GOG.com*
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/megan.jpg” ]Megan Mellers is a freelance writer based in the Pacific Northwest with her engineer fiancé. She graduated with a degree in English from George Fox University and pursues both creative writing and non-fiction, while grading student papers to make ends meet. Her poetry has appeared in 491 Magazine. She started gaming only a few years ago, which means she’s had a lot of catching up to do. Her favorite games are the ones that challenge her to inhabit them and make her own rules. Currently, that means playing Sleeping Dogs, Mirror’s Edge, and Oblivion/Skyrim while combing the internet for the perfect survival sandbox game that probably doesn’t exist yet.[/author]