Lifeless Planet was recently released by indie developer Stage 2 Studios for PC and Linux through Steam, PS4, and Xbox One, listed at $19.99. This game had an odd feel through the trailer. It left me with a hollow, unsettling feeling.
The game opens with the crash landing of an astronaut and his two crew members. His equipment is destroyed and his crew members are missing. All that’s left is the endless open desert with the single thread of hope in the form of footprints winding it’s way into the vista.
Lifeless Planet is about exploration and discovery. The story is told almost exclusively through the artifacts left behind by Russian scientists who have inexplicably come before this first mission through space. As the astronaut ponders Cold War-era hoaxes and conspiracies, he suddenly finds himself amid the irrefutable proof of a dying planet and broken race.
This game isn’t about combat. It’s not about testing your skills at manipulating pixelated heroes through villains and monsters. While some of the tasks are puzzles, it’s also not a puzzle game. It’s about awakening your inner childlike wonder of the universe and who we are as a human race within it.
As I worked my way through the story, I was overwhelmed by an immersive feeling of being cold and utterly alone in a vast and hostile place. I felt vividly the pang of fear and despair of a person so wholly without hope that they are willing to place their life in the hands of a (perhaps) inhuman stranger.
This game holds a subtle, but scathing, mirror up to the human race and asks, “Who are we? What are we doing here? Who are the heroes of this story?” In a tone not unlike Avatar, the answer is mixed. Amid the alien vista, the player as the astronaut is forced to think about the footprint we leave on our own planet.
I would absolutely recommend this game without hesitation. I was delighted and swept away by haunting music, beautiful graphics, and thoughtful story woven together in this masterpiece of a game. In terms of science fiction games I’ve reviewed lately, this game stands out among the crowd as a memorable testament to the ingenuity and quirkiness that indie developers bring to gaming.
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