Review: Planet Explorers (video game)

I started this game in early access. And Re-started when it was released. So I haven’t finished it. I’ll argue that I don’t have to hit 100% to write up a in-play review of the game! Especially because this has been a fun game from the start. Oh, it isn’t perfect, but for anyone who enjoyed Mass Effect – you will probably enjoy this game too!

Pros:

Ok, so I love building games and this game puts building into a position of pride and joy. The tools have some learning curve, but both the building-building AND the vehicle building is a ton of fun. (Did I mention you get to design vehicles – cars, boats and planes/helicopters!!!) Any sandbox/simulation game could take notes and build from PE to have an awesome builders experience.

Story is another element I have enjoyed (so far).  It is a tad predictable, but nothing that makes me roll my eyes so much it hurts.  And the improvements they made from the early access are so far really nice, I am looking forward to a 100% play-through. The characters are pretty good, maybe not as much personality as possible, but there are a LOT of them. I also like that although there is a “main plot” there are so many cool side-stories I probably spent 10 hours this past week just chasing down a couple of quests that aren’t in the main line – because I want those NPCs to like me! (and one that I thought was main line and didn’t realize it was a side quest because it sounded so important! Damn cheating NPC making a good appeal like that!)

Cons:

The game isn’t perfect. It crashed my video card driver once (game and youtube froze and when it reset YouTube told me the vid card driver had crashed & I needed to reload the page…) and the game itself crashed once when I was teleporting, but the auto-save had registered so I lost zero progress.

Battle/Fighting/Balance is sometimes frustrating.  There are “boss” creatures in each area which can be awful to battle (ARE awful) and the slide of moving from weapon-to-weapon is not always clear.  This is one of those places where I have no idea what the game designers intended, I’ve been muddling my way through but I have spent a ton on resurrection syringes and I am obsessed with collecting every plant for health potions as I move through the areas of the game.  I wish it was a little clearer how I am supposed to be progressing through the weapons’ tree(s).  AM I supposed to be dropping turrets all the time to fight these bigger baddies or am I supposed to be able to use my hand-to-hand weapons?

Graphics are good but not perfect.  There have been a few times where characters did some weird glitchy moves – like the other night when I teleported into camp and one my NPC followers/helpers face-planted in the ground and was trying to walk face-in-the-dirt. She was hilarious and sad looking at the same time.  When I teleported out (no idea what would have happened if I had kept running instead of teleporting) she corrected.

Backstory: so many NPC’s have great back stories – parents and family and …. I would have loved to build out my character with some things like that too.  And why do I have to be from Earth? Why can’t I be a Martian?  (I do assume I’m from Earth, but the Martians don’t hate me as much so… maybe not?)

Conclusion:

If you enjoy Mass Effect and Minecraft, I think you will absolutely enjoy Planet Explorers. It might not change the genre, but it is thoroughly enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to go to the steam forums if you get stuck on something that you think maybe should be obviously (you want me to find what – where do I get that?) and be creative – this game has building as part and parcel to the story. I mean, you are there to build a colony!

I will be watching Pathea (the publisher) because they did a great job on this first game.  I hope they learn from its imperfections and next time it will be an even better game (which could be genre-defining IMO).

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