Platform: Xbox One
Journey to the Savage Planet Preview - E3 2019
Exploring a whacky alien world in a new title from Typhoon Studios
Getting some exposure for your new game is always important, so it definitely helps when you can grab a spot at a big event like The Game Awards. That's exactly what 505 Games and Typhoon Studios managed to do with their 2018 reveal of Journey to the Savage Planet. With the development coming along, the studio brought a demo of this upcoming title to E3 2019, where we had a chance to spend some time in its whacky and colorful world.
Journey to the Savage Planet is a first person adventure game that takes place on an alien planet called AR-Y 26. The core elements of the gameplay involve discovering the flora and fauna, navigating the terrain, and fulfilling various quests. But it's also a game meant to be humorous. Players assume the role of a pioneer that works for the galaxy's "4th best exploration company." That means they send you out without much support, tools, or resources. You'll have to survive, and thrive, in this environment on your own. There is an AI companion on the radio that provides instructions and colorful commentary during the adventure, and you can choose to turn her off if you want to; most of the lines in the demo were fairly amusing though, using the "medium chattiness" setting.
A small ship serves as a home base, where you can use a 3D printer to craft upgrades, as well as store your materials; similarities to Subnautica can be felt. Before leaving, you can watch a few amusing corporate videos, or check your messages. Stepping out into the game world, we were faced with the Glacial Plateau. The objective was to locate some rare materials needed to repair our vessel. However, we were soon plunged through the ice and ended up in the valley, which was a lush and jungle-like area. The game world is quite vibrant, with alien greenery and plants spread across the terrain.
You have an encyclopedia to fill, and doing so is easy - just pull up the scanner and hold to scan highlighted creatures and plants around you. In this, perhaps inspiration from No Man's Sky was drawn. If you read the descriptions, they are amusing as well. The creatures you encounter are mostly peaceful and look all sorts of strange. The Puffer Birds scurried around, and you could slap or kick them. Another type of creature kept running away, screaming.
You can use food to lure some creatures, and this is needed to progress past a few blocked paths. So-called Meat Vortexes need to be fed a Puffer Bird in order for you to go forward, and it's a funny-yet-terrifying animation. The demo level we explored was quite linear, though there were one or two optional side paths and objectives to be found by exploration. We could also see the glow of certain flowers that allow you to grapple up to them - players will need to craft the grapple hook and return to this area later, if they wish to fully explore it.
The crafting system uses resources in order to gate player progress. You can update pistol damage, carry capacity, your jetpack, the range of scanning tool, and so on, but some upgrades are only possible when you find the correct rare element, which can be story-related. Other types of upgrades are simply derived from materials you get from plants and creatures by slapping them. You can also find special yellow plants to eat, which increases your max health and stamina - while the AI reminds you it can't be responsible for any side effects of eating alien goo.
At the end of this area, we came across our first hostile creature. This encounter served as a bit of a boss battle - the creature stood in the middle of an area, and scanned around with a visible red light. If you got caught in the light, it became alerted, and bombarded the whole area with highly damaging projectiles. After a leisurely exploration session, we were not prepared for this and perished quickly. Thankfully, just moments ago we activated a teleportation pedestal. These will be spread across the planet, so that if you die, you don't have to trek too far. We returned to the creature, and this time avoided its gaze and snuck up behind it for an amusing takedown animation of poking its eye. The next area was Volcanic Hollow, with lava flowing across caverns, but our time with the game had come to an end.
Journey to the Savage Planet seems to be a solid debut effort from Typhoon Studios. Given the demo we played, the game seems to have found its footing in both humour and an original setting. The gameplay is pretty straightforward, and the levels were mostly linear, but as the developers pointed out, this is a game meant to be a whacky and focused adventure, not a sprawling 40-hour exploration game. It's also set to launch below the typical $60 price point. While no launch window is confirmed yet, Journey to the Savage is planned for release on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.