Exploring a strange, alien world was never going to be a safe task, but nobody warned that it would also be enigmatic and beautiful. Planet Alpha follows the journey of an astronaut with the ability to manipulate the time of day as they make their way across an expansive, alien planet comprised of lush grasslands, stark deserts and so much more.
Planet Alpha, from Planet Alpha ApS, is a platformer featuring an astronaut crash-landed on a stunning alien planet. It’s jam-packed with amazing visuals and includes a daylight-led puzzle system.
I was lucky enough to play through a demo build of Planet Alpha while at the Nordic Games Conference earlier in the year. The demo was based in just one of the many biomes the finished game will explore. Dusty deserts and lush undergrowth were not on the menu, it seemed. This meant I didn’t get to see any of the strange mechanical eggs or gigantic dinosaur-like creatures, or explore the lab area — all of which are shown off in a lot of the game’s marketing material.
Instead, I explored a fantastical area filled with floating, whale-like creatures, strange bugs and gigantic flowers and mushrooms. While the demo was very much the classic ‘just head right’ platformer, jumping between the strange floating islands that made up the area, as well as changing the time of day to draw out mushrooms and flowers at certain points, was really enjoyable and fluid.
The puzzle element of the game — the shifting between day and night to send things to sleep or cause mushrooms and flowers to grow or shrink away — is a strange fit with the genre. Players must often perform daring leaps of faith in platform games, bounding beyond the extent of world shown at the edge of the screen. This doesn’t fit well with puzzle elements that create platforms, however, after a little bit of playtime, patterns begin to emerge that numb the dangers of this.
One thing I do really want to talk about, which I rarely discuss with games, is the sound effects. Everything was loud and felt like it was extremely delicately recorded. It’s a strange sensation to explain, but the squelching of landing and the swishing of leaves, or squishing of mushroom underfoot, all sounded as though they had been recorded and uploaded without any digital treatment. It had a strange clarity to it which I am struggling to explain.
As a matter of fact, all of the areas of presentation seem to have received this high level of care. As a creature soars through the foreground before slicing a platform in two up ahead, or as the light glints off the tall blades of grass or cascades through lifting fog, it was hard to not be impressed with the production quality.
Personally, I cannot wait to experience the full breadth of Planet Alpha’s world when it launches.
Planet Alpha is scheduled for launch in Q3 of this year. It’s being developed for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4 and PC. Those interested in following its development can do so through the game’s Twitter @Planetalpha.