A Strange Journey

I have been stuck on this planet for a while now, my visor is covered in alien bird-goo and I think I might have eaten something called Glob. Kindred Aerospace - the 4th Best Interstellar Exploration Company ever (they made me say that, it's on the waiver/form) told me that it was safe enough for ingestion. I can see colours, and through time, also why do I have four limbs?

My friendly, perhaps more than friendly, computer system: Eko is chirping in her merry fashion about just how boned I am because I forgot to do a thing, she told me to earlier. Look I got distracted OK.

I am a DOG in a space suit! I bet Laika never thought we'd get this far.

Bark.

P.S. I also called E.K.O, Eko, because it annoys her, please don't tell her OK?

The Strangest Planet

Journey to the Savage Planet is a short game, you'll probably finish the main quest in about 6-10 hours and spend some time soaking up the remaining challenges and collectibles. Honestly, this is fine, because it's a gonzo-bonkers 10 or so hours of planet exploration with different biomes and quirky/wacky humour that reminds me of Douglas Adams: Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, only viewed through a skewed lens of Saturday Night Live meets Tiswas (look it up).

Exploration of the Savage Planet requires some shooting, exploring (obviously) and a great deal of platforming. You'll also do some lite-crafting and resource gathering with fun and pretty accessible mechanics.

This is not, and I repeat, IS NOT, SUBNAUTICA in Space. Phew, OK, got that?

Savage Planet's gameplay loop is pretty simple, and it's gear gated to allow you to progress at a pace that's based on your desire to explore beyond the area you're in. You often need a special resource to craft a new tool to get you further into the newest area/biome. You'll do some platforming to get there, you'll shoot some alien cute bird-things to get the carbon and silica you need to craft the thing and you'll keep on doing this, with new varieties of creature until you get to the end of the game.

There are missions, there are side-missions, challenges, and new gear but the base loop runs like this:

Scan something, shoot things, craft something, use thing to get to new place - rinse and repeat.

There's a good slew of equipment and upgrades to craft in the game, and it's all useful to your ardent explorer (be they human or dog, yes, there's a dog option OK).

All of the crafting is done in your module, aka the Javelin, your home away from well, home. Here you'll get mission updates, watch quirky videos and craft your upgrades.

Out in the world you'll get resources, and if you don't die, you'll be able to come back and drop those off in your HQ - they get added to your global crafting resources and are now safe.

If you die out there, you'll leave a resource crate and your body somewhere.

Getting the crate back will allow you to pick up lost resources you had on you at the time of your humorous (or not so) demise.

You respawn back at base and it's time to carry on.

Later on, you'll unlock a fast travel option and can get around the maps quicker.

So, to sum up: The gameplay loop is, scan lots of things/creatures, shoot, collect, craft, and explore. All in first person. Oh and fight bosses, now and then, but shhh... they're listening to every word I type.

A Funky Planet

Along with the sense of humour, Savage Planet has a twisted art style and a wonderfully glorious over the top design aesthetic. The various biomes of the planet are well done, with the graphics presenting a strange and alien vista for you to explore. The creature designs are fun, and scanning them pops up a little card which you can collect in your Kindex. Many of these have fun anecdotes about the flora and fauna, especially the Pufferbird, which no matter how much you abuse the lil' things - loves you.

Awww.

The frame-rate is solid and it looks great on an Xbox One X.

The Sound of Violence

Sound design is another area of Savage Planet that's been given an extra layer of fun. If you do indeed pick the Dog in the Spacesuit option from the tutorial section of the game, then you'll get Doggo sounds through the whole game as you huff, bark, pant, and arf your way through this 6-10 hour romp, auto-saving all the time and just having a whale of a time (as a canine). The planet is brought to life aurally with a lovely set of sounds, and my favourite has to be the delightful chirps of the Pufferbirds... and then squelch as you meanly kick them into green goo.

I can't help it, it's a dog thing, OK!

Banjo Ptootie!

There's a very low-key musical accompaniment to the game as you explore the Savage Planet, until the action kicks in, and the acoustic banjo starts up with it's plucky tune and strangely fitting soundtrack to match the scene that's going on at the time.

What's in a Tone?

The voice work is provided by your CEO of Kindred and Eko, your... er... computer happy-fun time pal, with her bright and breezy voices. Which you can tone down if you find her too chatty. E.K.O. is one of the aspects I really loved about this game and I wasn't put off by the sheer amount of chatty that she is.

(She told me to write this).

I'll Get Blasted with a Little Help

You can play Savage Planet on your own, or you could use one of the THREE save slots to set up a cooperative game with your friend. Yes, that's right, you can play the whole of the game with a co-op buddy and work toward the common goal of kicking Pufferbirds from one side of the cave to the other...

Or you know, explore, craft, share the joy of kicking Pufferbirds to...

Explore?

Did we say that?

Seriously though, it's fun co-op and whilst you might collect resources individually, and be able to slap/kick/hurt one another. Your resources are pooled from the moment you go into the Javelin. Also, if one player crafts an upgrade, the other player gets it automatically.

It's co-operation comedy at its finest and the highlight of the game!

Final Thoughts

More games need to let you play space dogs, because they're cool. Space dogs are the future of interstellar space exploration. Savage Planet is a fun game, it doesn't need to be a GotY contender, or the next big thing. It is quite happy to sit in that space where games are fun, and they're not too taxing.

Fun is in short supply.

So, join Kindred, make the universe safe from the Pufferbird menace and ... ooh a ball!

Bark!

Disclaimer: Opinions of the Dog Reviewer in this episode are not endorsed by Dog Co, Pup Co, or Bark Co.

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P.P.S Pufferbirds are evil, shoot on sight!