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PLANET ALPHA Review

In Plant Alpha, a side-scrolling puzzle platformer, you will climb, jump, hide from enemies, and even control day and night cycles to progress through certain passages. Above all else, you will hold down “right” and proceed east until the end. While fans of side-scrollers may feel differently, please keep in mind that my only true frame of reference for this genre is the original Mario Bros. But have no fear my eastward-bound friends; I will be objective and fair.

WELCOME TO PANDORA

You awaken from what appears to be a crash site, stranded and alone in the rocky terrain of this mysterious planet. Broken and wounded, you shamble through the mountains and the deserts. You find refuge in a small cave before beginning your journey across the plains of the unknown. The graphics for Planet Alpha struck my nerd chord pretty heavily, as the terrain and set pieces are breathtakingly beautiful. The art style alone deserves as many kudos bombs as you can through at the developers, Planet Alpha ApS.

For the first fifteen minutes, there really aren’t any puzzles or much in the way of a challenge — just a scenic route over the surface of this Avatar-esque world. After prancing across the fields and hills, you reach a dome-type ruined structure. You activate a star map of sorts and awaken (or provoke) an alien menace, who decimates the surface world, driving you into the subterranean depths, where the horrors of the underworld await you and the invaders. This area was pretty spooky.

The color palette of neon green and obsidian black with hints of a soilish brown really set the mood for the gargantuan creatures and flying beasts. Time and time again I found myself stopping just to admire the artistic design of the environment. After exiting the depths, Planet Alpha opens up to some challenging puzzles and interesting maneuvers that you must perform to progress, but it maintains a “light” gameplay throughout. The puzzles, for the most part, can be solved by attempting, dying, and repeating.

WHAT GOES UP…

During your time on planet Alpha, you will maneuver through some seriously sketchy terrain. You will climb daunting mountains and towering trees, traverse through portals, and negotiate your way through what I could only imagine as an alternate dimension — all the while proceeding east. This kind of bored me, to be honest. I would have loved to see a change in direction or at least more methods to the madness. To be fair, you will double-back westward occasionally to proceed to higher or lower ground, but by no means will you truly move in a different direction. Granted, this may be my lack of side-scrolling gameplay, but I couldn’t find true enjoyment in the title, as my D key on the keyboard was getting too manhandled for my liking.

My lack of experience with side-scrollers is the exact reason I won’t pretend to know what I’m talking about, especially since the fans of these games can call my bluff around any corner. Yet, I feel like every gamer can agree that the variation and freedom of decision-making are really what can drive games out of the realm of “one and done.” I more than likely will not play through Planet Alpha again, as there won’t be anything new to gawk at. This could be the downfall of this title, as it is pretty short (about five or six hours), especially for the asking price.

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND

Planet Alpha is sure to tickle any fan of space. Even if you’re not a huge fan of side-scrollers, this is sure to bring a smile to your face with its sci-fi beauty and insanity. One thing that I adored more than anything else was the old-school-looking alien menaces. At first glance, they draw a correlation to comic books of old, with their glass-dome heads that enclose their robotic “brains,” their pincer-type hands, and their cone-shaped laser cannons. Even their egg-shaped landing pods and towering, spider-like drones really draw on that 1950s-1970s-style alien threat.

6

The Verdict: Good

Planet Alpha is a breathtaking and mesmerizing experience, but I wouldn’t call it a game, necessarily — it’s more of an experience. Its lack of variation, paired with its short duration, means that you’ll probably really have to love side-scrollers to fully enjoy this title.

Bric Hudson
Written by
September 20, 2018
Published in Adventure

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Bric is a US Army veteran and a passionate gamer. While in military service, he found gaming to be a way to connect with his friends all over the world. This blossomed into a fascination with the gaming culture and the experiences had while launching up a whole new title. He is fond of a variety of genres, which is reflected on his Twitch streams and on his Youtube channel. Find Bric on YouTube. Find Bric on Twitch.

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