An amazingly atmospheric game that is let down slightly by its final stages.
Lifeless Planet really does achieve everything it set out to do. It provides the player with an incredibly moody game world, interesting platforming, and a touch of puzzle solving. The real meat of the game is its environments, and they are on full display here. If you love breathtaking scenery, doted by strange and lonely structures, then this is the game for you.
However, the strongest part of the game is definitely its early stages. Once you reach the midpoint, and you start to uncover the mysteries of the planet, the game loses a lot of the mystique.
The use of documents to provide exposition is nothing new, but this is perhaps one of the worst implementations of it. There’s no way for the player to discover or interpret any of the plot, because everything is clearly spelt out in the documents. You might be wondering what happened in a specific location, only to pick up a note and have it told to you. For a game that reveals in the idea of exploring an empty planet, I find this extremely strange.
There are also some transitions towards the end that don’t make a lot of sense. You might be walking in a cavern one moment, then a transition will shoot you outside and you’ll be notified, via the document system, what happened. This was incredibly jarring, and threw me out of the fictive dream.
Without spoiling anything, the story is rather silly, and there is literally no foreshadowing of the two final plot-twists. I’d almost say that both break the game’s own atmosphere, but I recognise that might be my own subjective view. That being said, however, there’s no excuse for informing me via text what the outcome of an event was; especially if my character apparently bore witness to it. Just show it to me and I should be able to infer its meaning.
The final revelation is also just plain stupid, and literally introduced in the last ten minutes of the game. While it does provide a sudden burst of energy to push you through the ending, it was so convenient that I almost forgot the amazing sense of place leading up to it. And this is coming from someone who really likes happy endings.
Oh, and there was also a subplot about a dead wife that literally goes nowhere.
In conclusion, Lifeless Planet is an atmospherically impressive game that is let down by its poor story. It manages to capture the feeling of being the lone human on an alien planet, but shoots itself in the foot with terrible explosion and a ham-fisted ending.
It is worth a buy if you’re interesting in the concept or atmosphere, but I wouldn’t recommend it at full price. And now I have to figure out whether to give it a thumb’s up or down. Bloody binary review system.