Space exploration is a rising trend in modern gaming. Some titles have made huge promises that are more or less impossible to keep. Others are simply stuck in development hell. It’s a bittersweet affair for me, as I adore space but have a real problem with developers overestimating their abilities. Long have I wanted a game that gives me loads of strange and new things to explore, but within the limits of a realistic expectation. I want a crafted world, with charm and intentional design. Make it co-op and I’m in heaven. Well, it seems that Typhoon Studios heard my dreams. Journey To The Savage Planet is perhaps the best space exploration game I’ve ever played.
Your journey starts as you crash land your spaceship, “Javelin”, on the remote planet named “Planet AR-Y 26”. Working for the Kindred Aerospace corporation, your goal is to explore the said planet and report back any findings and confirm if the planet is inhabitable for humans. That means studying the plants, creatures, and everything in between. But if that doesn’t sound fun, you are also encouraged to kick, eat, and shoot everything you see. You know, for science!
The lore and story behind Kindred Aerospace are told via emails and video messages sent from the rather shady CEO, Martin Tweed. The cynical, satirical nature of the game’s writing is easily one of the most humorous works I’ve experienced in video games. While I always love a good joke, I rarely literally laugh out loud while playing games. This wasn’t the case for Journey to The Savage Planet. While watching the in-game advertisements, myself and my co-op buddy nearly cried at just how ridiculous they are. Think a mix of Oddworld and No Man’s Sky. There’s humor to be found not only the in-game videos, but even small details scattered throughout the world. I was truly amazed at the amount of work that went into adding personality and charm to nearly every inch of the spaceship. The writing is clever, absurd, and fun.
Unfortunately, Kindred Aerospace has left you extremely unprepared and lacking even the most basic gear needed for such a venture. Luckily you do have access to a 3D printer and a lovely but sarcastic, computer AI assistant. You’ll need to gather resources and find new alien technology to help craft more and more tools and upgrades to traverse this very savage planet.
From pistols and jet packs, to grappling hooks and more; there are loads of upgrades and gadgets for you to craft as you explore more and more of planet AR-Y 26. The crafting never feels ‘grindy‘ or boring along the way. Each upgrade you unlock feels timed perfectly with the area you are exploring at the time. This is the main reason I’m not much on procedural generated game design. With a crafted world everything just has a much better flow and pacing. I actually found myself not wanting to stop each time I reached a new obstacle.
The visuals are terrifically unique and feel right at home for a game about an unknown planet featuring a chicken-eating plant called a “Meat Vortex”. Filled with insanely colorful flora and fauna, the world truly pops with a wonderful blend of vibrant colors. It’s a slimy, gooey, prickly world that looks like it spawned from a really good (or really bad) acid trip. Frankly, I adore it. While some textures are a bit blurry at times, the game has an overall sharp look and I experienced zero performance issues on the PS4 Pro.
All of this is only enhanced by the fully playable co-op mode. I’m so glad to see smaller titles feature online co-op, as most seem to skip on this feature for one reason or another these days. While the game is still fun and addicting in solo play, co-op really makes for a fun romp around the deadly Willy Wonka-esque world. Trophies and progress are also saved for both players, which is strangely not always the case with modern games. So big thanks to Typhoon for making a proper co-op experience!
In the end, Journey to The Savage planet is an incredibly unique, cynical, and a fun slime-covered trek that makes discovering alien life fun and messy. Loaded with hilarious writing and ridiculous moments, it’s exactly the blend of fun and space I’ve always wanted. If you want to explore a new world and/or kick chickens into a blender of teeth, then give this one a go.