Born from a clear fascination with space exploration and science-fiction, Lifeless Planet Premier Edition is a third-person adventure game from Serenity Forge.
The Premier Edition brings new content and improved graphics. The Premier Edition also includes new original music from acclaimed Lifeless Planet composer Rich Douglass. The game also contains previously unreleased content in the form of new audio and text logs.
Thrown straight into the game, we see our unknown astronauts blast off into space heading for a potentially habitable planet many light-years away from Earth. As the ship begins its descent to this new planet, it begins to malfunction. The ship crashes knocking everyone unconscious. When one of the astronauts comes around, he finds himself alone on a barren desert and short on oxygen.
This is the players first goal. To get to a nearly oxygen post before he suffocates and dies.
Once that simple task has been accomplished both the astronaut and the player will finally have the chance to take stock of where they are. The supposed intelligence readings that suggested the planet was teeming with life must have been wrong. This planet is empty and lifeless, a barren wasteland of nothing.
The goal now? To find the astronaut’s missing team-mates somewhere on this void landscape.
The opening segments work like a tutorial, getting the player used to navigating the terrain. Making jumps and getting accustomed to the short bursts of jet that can be used to reach further distances and higher heights.
What seems quite open, is actually quite linear as you trek towards an unknown destination. Cresting a massive mountain, the first of many shocking discoveries will made.
Before the astronaut’s eyes lies a town. An abandoned town but one none the less. At first, he doesn’t quite believe what he is seeing then he thinks he is part of some space agency psychological exercise. All before he comes across proof that it was the Russians who built this town. Soviet-era Russians and it looks like they’ve been here a long, long time.
So where are they now? That is just one of many mysteries to be solved. There is no backup, no leaving the planet. The only thing to do is press on and find the answers.
The driving force of Lifeless Planet is the story, a wonderful sci-fi tale that stays mysterious up until its final moments. One solved mystery leads to another and you’ll find yourself as desperate as the playable astronaut to find out the truth.
To do that, it’s all about navigating the enormous world and its different landscapes. From dry deserts, to deep caverns, to gigantic dead forests, to hot springs and rampant volcanic areas.
There is no combat, the only tools available to the astronaut are his jetpack and later, a robotic arm which can be used to solve puzzles.
Not that the lack of combat matters as this is a dead planet and although there are many ways to die, those will come from players not being observant of the environment that lays before them.
Lifeless Planet does a wonderful job of making you feel lost and small without actually allowing to go too far off the beaten path. While it is linear for the most part, the paths are not obvious and it’s up to players to get accustomed to what it is required to progress. You’ll feel like an astronaut exploring an unknown alien planet which is the highest praise that can be given to the game.
Part of that feeling does come from the visuals, music and sound effects too. The former, especially from a distance, look great. Whereas the latter two heighten the sense of dread, loneliness and discovery in ample amounts.
Lifeless Planet has just the right amount of challenge to leave some underlying frustration. Mostly coming from dark areas where finding the path isn’t easy and death drops are in abundance. However, most of the time you’ll find yourself acknowledging your own mistakes and checkpoints are in abundance.
(It should be noted that the reviewer did suffer a particular issue. One where the game did not save progress. Resulting in about an hour of gameplay being lost. However, this only happened once).
The game can be completed in as little as 4 hours. Something that is encouraged with an achievement but returning players can do it under 2 hours. That doesn’t sound like a worthwhile experience but it is as the story is gripping and very satisfying.
Lifeless Planet Premier Edition