Planet Alpha Review

PC

Also available on Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One

You come to on a planet that certainly isn't yours, you attempt to get up but find you've injured your leg, it must have been because of the crash. What the hell happened? You manage to stand but the pain is incredible, like a dagger shooting up your leg every time you put your weight on it. Looking around you realise that you have no idea what to do or where to go, you weren't trained for this at all. After a few minutes you decide that without food or water you've got no choice but to stagger forwards slowly and hope for the best, it's better to die having tried.

You fight forward for what could be hours, it could be days, there doesn't seem to be any kind of day/night cycle that makes any sense. You push through endless desolation and your leg gives up, the pain is unbearable, even dragging it behind you send a searing pain throughout your body and without food or sleep it's too much now. You drag yourself forwards with what little energy you have left and see a cave, you're so close to it now you can almost reach it. You try to move your arms but they've stopped listening to you, maybe this is it then, was it even worth the effort to get here?



Waking up in the cave is odd, but you get to your feet. It takes you a couple of seconds to realise that you don't hurt anymore, in fact you feel fantastic. Hopping from foot to foot it becomes apparent that gravity isn't like it is at home; you start to run to get some speed and jump, you don't just jump, you soar, it feels amazing. You land and feel beyond human, you hardly notice the impact at all, this is amazing. Wait, weren't you nearly dead? Maybe this is just a fever dream, the last thought of someone alone and broken. Even if it is you'll be damned if you don't make the most of this and start to walk towards what looks like the outside world.

Light floods your vision as your step outside, not just light, colour. This is unreal, colours like this can't have existed you're entire life without you noticing, what else have you missed? You hear a strange noise and look to your left, a gigantic dinosaur like creature towers above, you stop dead. Praying that it doesn't see you you just watch it, it lifts its head to nip at the trees above you, occasionally rearing up on its hind legs to reach even higher. This is amazing. It doesn't seem to notice you, or if it does it doesn't care so you carry on, simply following your feet and seeing where they will take you.



Running doesn't seem to be tiring, you can just keep going. You jump, climb, and almost catapult yourself across gaps that you wouldn't normally dream of facing. The rush is incredible, it almost makes you sad to be stuck in your suit, but there is no way you are risking suffocating by taking it off. Bounding through these amazing vistas is enthralling, addictive even the changing scenery never ceases to take you breath away.

The light fades, the world becomes darker, what the hell is happening now, is this dreamscape turning into a nightmare? Something crashes into the ground somewhere in the distance, then closer, now right next to you. You thought you were the only alien on this planet, apparently not. Something steps out of the strange ship that crashed into the ground in front of you, it steps out, spots you, and shoots you dead.



You wake up again just as the ships are crashing down, there's no time to think about why you aren't dead, if this is a nightmare then you just have to wait until you wake up. If this isn't a nightmare, then you have to find your way forwards anyway, its served you well so far. You duck into some plants and the thing doesn't seem to spot you, so you creep past it and hope for the best. You come across more and more of these as you go, each time one spots you you wake up again a few seconds before it shoots you. It starts to feel like a bad joke, what kind of fate is this, to be killed again and again in this heavenly scenery?

You find some peace by doing some spelunking and finding your way into some kind of subterranean cave system. There are strange green capsules everywhere but you don't stop to think, you don't want to be found. You come across some strange insectile creatures, they shock you and everything fades away again.



You grit your teeth and push through, each death haunting you and taking a toll, but each one teaching you a valuable lesson about survival. You realise you can pit this creatures against the invaders, and the invaders don't stand a chance. You continue on once more and find a strange room with a glowing floor panel. The world lights up, no wait, there's a strange light around your head. You focus on one part of this weird glyph and the sun sets. Was that you? You focus on the other side and the sun traces an arc back the way it came, can you control time?

Some of the flowers only bloom at night, so you bring in darkness to better hide from the things hunting you. There are pillars which rise and fall with the sun, so you figure out which time of day lets you cross and you make it so. This is all too strange. Why can you change the way time flows, how is this possible? Contemplating it brings you no joy, but every sight that fills your mind is overwhelming, incomparable. You only hope you can survive long enough to take it all in.



While everything you've done feels the same as other things you've done in your life, nothing has ever looked like this. Gone are the greys and blacks of other times when you've survived things like this, there are no silhouettes, everything is too brilliant to be obscured. Falling down is frustrating, getting shot down is worse. Thank whatever is keeping you going that you never end up too far back after failing. You've been stuck on this journey, sometimes the right way to progress has been too obscure, but you've always managed to find a path. All that is left is to keep going and see what awaits you at the end. The experience isn't unfamiliar, but the sights are otherworldly, it's more than enough reason to keep pushing forwards, so forwards is where you will go.

Overall

Planet Alpha is a gorgeous trek through an alien world and the strange timey wimey things that afflict it. While the pacing can occasionally feel a little bit off, the slower moments do allow you time to take everything in. The puzzles are the only real challenge throughout and most aren't so obtuse that they become frustrating so it works well. If you are after a striking world to get lost in then maybe this is the one for you.

8

out of 10

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