Journey to the Savage Planet review: Rewarding exploration and frustrating combat

Who wouldn't want to work for a company labeled as the 4th best in interstellar exploration?

Journey to the Savage Planet fungi
(Image: © Windows Central)

Journey to the Savage Planet is Typhoon Studios' first project to release since its founding a few years ago, but its developers are far from inexperienced. The studio is comprised of veteran industry developers that clearly put their combined decades of knowledge to good use. Journey to the Savage Planet is like one part No Man's Sky, one part Outer Wilds, and one part The Outer Worlds while still managing to be its own thing.

There's a lot to love in this small package, and though it isn't perfect, I've found myself going back to it every night to explore, leaving no stone unturned and no corner unmapped.

Journey to the Savage Planet What I like

Journey to the Savage Planet Enigmatic Spire

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Journey to the Savage Planet, at its core, is about exploration. Finding a new home for humanity. To do so, you'll need to scan just about every flora and fauna you come across — of which I wish there were more. Though they're vastly different games, it reminded me a little of No Man's Sky in that regard. Players are thrust into an unknown world with their only direction being to explore. That's a large part of what makes it so fun. You have the leisure of exploring at your own pace and discovering secrets on your own without distractions.

The visuals are also a standout aspect of this game. Everything is vibrant, vivid and full of life — even the dead things. The planet is oozing with color. It's a great juxtaposition that makes an otherwise hostile planet feel welcoming.

I've found myself going back to it every night to explore.

When I said Journey to the Savage Planet had a bit of The Outer Worlds in it, that's because it also has this capitalist corporation sending you out on your journey. That in and of itself doesn't mean much — capitalism is everywhere, after all — but the way the company presents itself; the humor that's used and how it refers to its employees, that's what made it feel like The Outer Worlds. Nothing as blatant, but the similarities are there.

All in all it took me about 8-hours to complete the campaign, and I'm now 11-hours in trying to collect everything. It's not especially long, but that serves to its benefit. It has a clear focus without forcing you on one path. It encourages exploration while still nudging you toward the finish line. Aside from the ending, the pacing was exactly as it should be.

Because I played using a pre-release code provided by the publisher, I didn't get a chance to see how its co-op gameplay fared. From what I can tell, there aren't any drastic changes between it and solo play. Combat and puzzle solving should be easier, but I'm not sure what systems are in place for players to communicate or interact with one another, like possibly pinging a location or trading materials.

Journey to the Savage Planet What I don't like

Journey to the Savage Planet Festering Chasm

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Throughout the entirety of my playthrough I dreaded having to fight any enemies. The shooting in Journey to the Savage Planet feels clumsy at best, completely ineffectual at worst. Many enemies move too quickly for you to ever get a good shot in, especially since you can't aim down the sights. I can't begin to count the times I emptied a clip of 10 bullets only for maybe 1 of them to hit the desired target. Try shooting the unarmored flailing tail section of a moving beast that jumps all over the place. It's not easy and it's not fun, it's frustrating.

As happy as I was to defeat the final boss, which you can appropriately call a bullet sponge of sorts (bullet glob of slime?), I also felt that the ending was too abrupt. Right when the credits began to roll I sat there for a few seconds thinking it was some sort of joke and that these were only fake credits that would lead into another section of the game. But no. That was it. There are hints of some very cool world building that never really pays off. If you want answers, don't expect to get them easily. What little you do learn comes from a handful of expidition messages and video logs you can unlock. It's another tool to encourage exploration, but it made my journey feel a bit pointless.

Should you buy Journey to the Savage Planet?

Journey to the Savage Planet Towering Crystals

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

If Journey to the Savage Planet looks like something you'd be interested in judging by its trailers, I'd encourage you to pick it up. Those who remain on the fence won't find anything groundbreaking here, but it's still a fun game for what it is.

The world of AR-Y 26 is full of diverse biomes that I only wanted to see more of. The game's short length is a double-edged sword because while I appreciate a game that you can get through in under 10-hours, those still weren't enough for me. Barring the frustrations I had with its combat and the end boss battle, I loved it. And I'd really love a sequel. The ending leaves room for more stories to be told.

Jennifer Locke

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life, and is very happy Xbox is growing a stronger first-party portfolio. You can find her obsessing over Star Wars and other geeky things on Twitter @JenLocke95.