JOURNEY TO THE SAVAGE PLANET / DEVELOPER: TYPHOON STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: 505 GAMES / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Playing as an explorer, it's your job to hunt around the previously-uncharted planet AR-Y 26, catalogue its various flora and fauna (using a very Metroid Prime-style scanning device) and ultimately assess the planet's suitability for human habitation. On arrival, it becomes clear that the local wildlife is somewhat... savage... and your job might not be as straightforward as it first seemed...
AR-Y 26 is a bright and colourful but fairly small world, filled with environmental obstacles and tons of boggly-eyed enemies that are almost too cute to kill. Journey to the Savage Planet plays out almost like a child-friendly Borderlands - there are no swears, and enemies splatter in a big pool of goo when you shoot them. There's none of Borderlands' much-loved looting to be done, but you'll be constantly collecting various materials that can be used in your ship's 3D printer to create new types of firepower and a variety of useful gadgets that will help you traverse the planet.
Objective markers point you towards your destination, but the route you need to take isn't always clear. The entire map is open from the start, but certain upgrades are needed before accessing some areas, so it's possible to spend more time than you'd like heading in what you think is the right direction only to find yourself at a dead end, having to turn around and try another path.
The platforming sections bring some further frustration, as the controls aren't quite as responsive as you'd like them to be. The grappling hook doesn't always hit its marks, and even jumping between ledges (or, more specifically, double jumping) can be a bit iffy. Plummeting to your death is never any fun, but it's worse than usual when you've been let down by wonky controls. Dying sends you back to your ship, from which you can fast travel back to any unlocked waypoints, but you'll have to endure the brash, obnoxious and abrasive advertisements that blast out of the ship's TV screen every time you respawn. As funny as some of them are the first time around, they quickly become rather irritating.
If you're looking for a relatively chilled shooter at a price that won't break the bank, there's every chance Savage Planet might hit the spot. Despite a few niggles, its memorable locations, boss fights, and satisfying exploration are enough to make it worthy of further investigation.