Planet Alpha is a side-scrolling narrative adventure set on an unforgiving alien world. The player must run, jump, climb, move objects and hide to uncover its purpose. But is Planet Alpha worth being stranded on or should it just give up and die, here’s my review of Planet Alpha.
Planet Alpha starts with you, an injured alien, left for dead in a strange world. After passing out in front of a cave with a face, you wake up fully revived and curiosity to continue on.
It soon becomes apparent that Planet Alpha uses a mix of environmental storytelling and visual narrative direction to enable the player to follow and create the story without any characters ever ushering a word.
This is done amazingly well through a rich immersive world oozing with lush landscapes, exotic creatures ancient ruins. The graphics are stunning and the clever use of zoom means that there is a great mix of tight claustrophobic scenes with zoomed-out shots showing just how small you are compared to this massive world. The soundscape is minimal but atmospheric and sound queues let the player know if it is safe to explore or time to get a move on.
Sadly, this mysterious alien land is currently undergoing an invasion of robotic beings hell-bent on destroying you, if they see you.
As such, hiding becomes essential early on as you have no offensive weapons to attack the attackers. The robot army has a mix of floating sentinels, walking tripods, and even retro-style 70’s robots. However, they aren’t the only dangerous creatures on the planet and you will avoid myriad bugs and beasts in your journey.
Primarily you will find yourself moving from left to right, but periodically the player has to vertically scale cliff faces and caverns, reverse the direction or navigate through strange low gravity sections. The change in direction helps to show the immense scale of the world.
When not traversing the world, there are a series of small puzzle sections allowing the Martian protagonist to use its Unusual power over the day and night cycle. By using the triggers at key sections you can turn day into night and vice versa making flowers bloom and rocks move to give you additional platforming elements to make use of.
The puzzles aren’t particularly challenging but are a welcome change of pace. Overall, the game takes around five hours to complete and is a wonderful example of the genre. My main criticisms would be minor and include a lack of hand-holding for newer players, losing the character behind foreground elements, and the lack of replayability but these are only small issues and shouldn’t detract from what is a fantastic narrative adventure.
Planet Alpha is a beautiful, engaging game and well worth an explore…