Here at Stoffel Presents we absolutely adore indie games. Not only because we like to support independent developers, but some of the best indie games out there challenge what it is to be a game. Quite often with Indie games, amazing graphics are ignored in favour of new and innovative game mechanics. Other times Indie games are closer to works of art in the stunning depth and beauty. This is where Planet Alpha comes in.
According to the game’s website, Planet Alpha is an adventure that takes place in a living alien world where you have the ability to control the day and night.
It combines fast platforming, puzzles and stealth elements with a unique art-style to create an unforgettable experience.
This synopsis of Planet Alpha deeply understates the unique art style and really overstates the game mechanics.
Planet Alpha starts off in a dimly light yet atmospherically set cave with no instruction or introduction. As you go from left to right throughout the cave system you finally open up on the planet’s surface. Instantly your breath is taken away. The colours, the depth, the contrast. The feeling that you have just stepped out into an actual living, breathing world. Actually no it’s more than that. It feels like you have just entered a fully functioning ecosystem. You are not here to interact with it you are here to experience it. This is games as art and there is no denying it.
This, I’m sorry to say, is where Planet Alpha falls flat. Gameplay is essentially run from left to right through a beautiful alien world. The deep puzzles are generally moving a rock so you can jump up a ledge.
The stealth elements are basically ducking in long grass as you sneak past a robot etc.
Fast platforming? run from left to right and jump off a cliff or up a ledge as you continue running.
There was so much potential here but unfortunately, it seems all of the developers time and effort went on creating a stunning alien world and gameplay was put in as an afterthought.
Planet Alpha is breathtaking. I can’t heap enough superlatives into this review to convey just how stunningly beautiful and organic the world is. What initially feels like a fully functioning, independent, ecosystem quickly becomes a strange and hypnotic rolling backdrop.
The gameplay or lack thereof, in Planet Alpha, is shockingly bad. It really hurts the games immense potential. To the point that I don’t even think I would class Planet Alpha as a game. It looks, feels and plays more like a tech demo.
It is a shining example of what a small independent studio is capable of. The sheer beauty of the landscape should be a clear and definite warning to AAA studios that indie games are ready to move from 8-bit pixel art and really challenge the top studio’s dominance even more. If only more thought and effort had been put into gameplay.
As it is, Planet Alpha rekindles the argument of can games be art? Like any good work of art, Planet Alpha is open to the individual’s own interpretation. It stirs something within you. The alien world really moves you. There is no doubt this is a work of art, But I am not sure if it is really a game.
Overall Score – 5/10