Planet Alpha Xbox One review: A beautiful sci-fi exploration game that's too short

Planet Alpha is a grand experience, though it's way too short.

Platforming games are quite common on Xbox One, but typically, you battle enemies with a combat system in them. Fe, released earlier this year, went against that norm, and now it's joined by Planet Alpha, a science-fiction title that focuses completely on exploration and puzzle solving. With superb visuals, beautiful music and engaging gameplay, Planet Alpha is truly great and is only held back by the length of the game.

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Discover a new world

There is almost no story at all in Planet Alpha. You start the game by waking up as an injured explorer who is traversing across an alien world for unknown reasons. With no other way to go than onward, you begin your journey to see what the mysterious planet, dubbed "Planet Alpha", has to offer.

This is done through two activities: platforming and puzzle solving. Platforming is how you traverse the land and its various hardships, while puzzle solving allows you to get through blocked paths and reach a new area of the planet. The majority of the game is focused on platforming, which feels fluid, responsive, and fun. In Planet Alpha, controlling your character as you make him do precise jumps and other movements is a breeze.

Completing puzzles, though, is a little trickier. Whenever you interact with the alien technology on this world, you gain the strange ability to rapidly change the time of day. This is where the meat of Planet Alpha's puzzle content is, and the unique concept of changing between day and night to alter your environment to your needs is awesome. Sadly, though, there aren't as many of these puzzles as I would have liked; Planet Alpha took me just five hours to finish. For $19.99, I expect more playtime then that.

Immerse yourself

Planet Alpha's gameplay experience is compelling, but the visuals are by far my favorite thing. The alien world you explore throughout the game is vibrant, colorful, detailed, and gorgeous. Additionally, if you're using the time-of-day shifting mechanic, you get the joyous opportunity to view any area in the game world at any hour of the day. I spent 20 minutes just experimenting with how a location looked at dawn, during sunset, in the middle of the afternoon, and in the late hours of the night.

Though not as incredible as the visuals, Planet Alpha's soundtrack is excellent, too. And to top it all off, Planet Alpha runs fantastically on Xbox One with only a few minor framerate drops to speak of.

Should you buy Planet Alpha?

If you're looking for a (mostly) peaceful gameplay experience that relaxes you and immerses you into an artificial world, Planet Alpha is definitely for you. The game's length is short, and people that want an action experience will get none of it with Planet Alpha. But aside from that, it's a game that you shouldn't pass up.


  • Unique gameplay concept.
  • Breathtaking visuals.
  • Excellent music.


  • Too short.

Planet Alpha is available now on Xbox One for $19.99.

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.