It’s a wild and wonderful universe out there, and new development studio Typhoon Studios has brought a fascinating, twisted, demented version of it to life in their debut game, Journey to the Savage Planet. Their team is filled with big names like Alex Hutchinson, former creative director at Ubisoft who worked on Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed 3, and studio co-founder and executive producer Reid Schneider, whose past credits include work on Batman: Arkham Origins and the Splinter Cell series.
Schneider described the game to us as an “earnest comedy” and the comedy of Journey to the Savage Planet is evident from the moment your robotic assistant (who is a dead ringer for the English voice of robot Tetsuko from the anime series Super Milk Chan) begins cheerily describing the atmosphere of the planet, which is apparently “devoid of all intelligent life,” despite clearly being filled with highly-advanced technology.
The visual design of Journey to the Savage Planet is incredibly striking, with a bold, bright, and surreal color palate bathing the flora and fauna of this strange, distant world with bright neon. While your main character has a blaster, it’s not especially powerful. It’s smarter to try and figure out how to take out your foes with brains over brawn.
The map is littered with adorable, mawkish puffer birds with giant eyes, who must be fed into an organic meat grinder to progress through many of the game’s branching pathways. You will kill adorable creatures, and you will feel terrible about it as they explode into a writhing mass of green goo, and your personal robotic assistant seems to laugh it all off.
There’s a fascinating verticality to the world of this game. Many sections of the demo had three, four, or more intersecting levels with bridges, platforms, grapple points, and cliff faces blended together with careful attention to detail.
Journey to the Savage Planet is a tough game to demo in an hour, as players are unleashed into the world and are free to explore the entire game area to the best of their ability. While there are some mission paths you can follow, executive producer Schneider emphasised that the game would allow players to create their own comic adventure.
Creatures called Pikemanders were among the most ferocious foes we were able to tackle, as they curl into spinning roly-polies and charge at your character. In a fun combat puzzle, players have to target the glowing bulbous growth on the pink lizards’ tail in order to kill them and unlock the quest item they’re tied to.
There’s a heavy focus on platforming here, and it actually feels really good. Platforming in the first-person always sounds unappealing because the limitation on camera perspective and movement, but Journey to the Savage Planet avoids that by presenting clearly laid out and generous platforms combined with slick movement options.
And while we’re on movement: it’s a big focus for the team at Typhoon. Playing the game, we could slide, double, triple, and even quadruple-jump, grapple, sprint, and jet across the map with a really awesome sense of fluidity. The controls mesh really well to create a gameplay style that feels like a smart fusion of Mirror’s Edge parkour, No Man’s Sky resource gathering and scanning, and Bioshock plasmid-style abilities.
I was able to catch up with a senior creative lead on the team for a short interview, which we’ll be publishing as a companion piece to our Journey to the Savage Planet E3 coverage. Until then, keep an eye out for Journey to the Savage Planet in early 2020.
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