The possibility of life on other planets has often intrigued many sci-fi writers. What otherworldy creatures could we encounter, what issues would we find with living on these planets and would we find hospitality among the stars or would we be seen as enemies? What if we found nothing but old Soviet Union buildings, extremely sharp branches and muddy textures? That’s the question that Lifeless Planet puts forward.
Lifeless Planet puts you in the role of a scientist who’s been looking for a new, inhabitable planet for humans. You and two other scientists board a faster than light ship and are put into cryostasis, after discovering the planet, many light years away. However, when the game opens, your ship crash lands on to this supposedly life filled planet, only to discover that you might have been wrong. There seems to be almost no life whatsoever. Then, you discover something even more shocking: It seems that in the 1970’s, the Soviet Union set up a base of operations on this planet. From here, you need to discover how exactly they were able to manage such a feat and discover where all of the life from the planet went to.
When you first begin the game, the plot is thick and wonderful. There’s a genuine mystery to unravel and you begin to try to put all of the pieces together in your mind. However, as the plot actually unravels, you begin to realize that what started out as an intriguing mystery was all leading to an incredibly ridiculous plot. The game gives hints as to there being a deeper meaning behind the plot, however it never actually pays off in this regard.
One of the biggest issues with Lifeless Planet is that it is a 3D platformer that uses the Unity engine. The Unity engine can be a great engine but with Lifeless Planet, you begin to see some of the issues that the engine has. One major problem is how muddy all of the environments look. Ground textures are simply stretched out when you are climbing up mountains, making the textures look awful. Everything is covered in a fog, making the game feel like it is a PS2 game. While these things looked decent with games like Oddworld: Munche’s Oddysee, that game was released in 2001.
Moreover, the engine doesn’t handle platforming very well. When you are actually trying to traverse the environments, there are plenty of times where you will need near pixel perfect precision in order to land on some platforms. However, when you are playing, there’s a certain amount of bounciness that the game has, leading to a number of instances where you will land on a platform, but you’ll slide or bounce off of it.
However, not all of these platforming issues are due to the engine. It is extremely clear that the team behind Lifeless Planet has not designed many games before, as the environments are so large that you can easily get lost in them. While this might be a great thing in some games, Lifeless Planet has several instant death traps that you will have no clue you’re about to jump into. In multiple parts of the game, it can be unclear of where exactly you are supposed to go. In fact, several times you will be so confused as to exactly where you’re supposed to go that you will just climb up walls and around the environment to advance.
Another major problem is the terrible repetition that the game has. There are only about three or four puzzles that get repeated throughout the entire game. You end up climbing over the same few obsticales multiple times. Running across thin branches and across wires becomes so routine that you when you don’t have to perform these tasks, you actually are surprised.
Honestly, though, most of these issues could have been forgive were it not for one small issue. Lifeless Planet is $20 on Steam. For the low level of quality and the numerous issues that the game has, this is unacceptable.
Lifeless Planet is a game that starts with an interesting premise and quickly kills and interesting ideas it could have had. Moreover, the game itself is ugly and the platforming aspects of it are often very poorly handled. If the game didn’t have such a high price tag, it would be easier to look past these issues. However, it’s far too expensive to justify any purchase at this point.
Score: 4.0 out of 10
A code for Lifeless Planet was provided to Pixel Related for review.