So I’ve been a gamer for a very long time now and played quite a number of games. I’d like to think that I know what types of games I like and what genres I don’t enjoy. Well historically I’ve never been into the puzzle genre. Sure I deal with them in series like The Tomb Raider, Uncharted, and Arkham, but I don’t go out seeking puzzle games. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been down on Tears of the Kingdom. So imagine my surprise when I started playing Planet of Lana, a puzzle game with stealth elements, and I couldn’t put it down. So what about this game made me enjoy a genre I don’t normally vibe with?
Let’s Dive into it.
Planet of Lana was released on May 23rd, 2023. It is available for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Steam, and Windows 10 PC. I played this of Xbox Series S and X. I was provided with a review code.
You play as a young girl and her loyal animal friend as you set out on a mission to rescue the rest of your people from mysterious alien robot invaders. Its a simple premise, but due to the game’s cinematic style of storytelling this turns out to be a really impactful and emotional story.
It’s not often that I experience a game that expertly handles so many tones.
Planet of Lana explores the themes of friendship, despair, hope, and perseverance in a way that should be applauded, especially since this game doesn’t feature any dialogue. The emotions are told through the actions and body languages of the characters. Speaking of the characters this game features very few, but makes the most of that smaller lineup. The handling of main character is especially astonishing considering that you don’t even know her name.
At its core Plaent of Lana is a stealth-based puzzle game. You use the area and your cute animal monkey-like companion to overcome obstacles and avoid the alien machines in the area. The mark of a good puzzle is one that is challenging, engaging, and feels manageable. Thankfully Planet of Lana is full to the brim with these types of puzzles. Throughout my 5 hour playthrough of the game’s campaign, I came across a multitude of different puzzles. Each one expertly balancing the line between being challenging yet approachable in a way that made me always feel that sense of accomplishment.
If you want a comp for how this game plays then I would say that the gameplay reminds me of Inside. The motion and how you control the main character is very similar to Inside. The puzzles while not the exact same does remind me of that still as well.
The game’s score is absolutely fantastic in the sense that it accents everything going on. There is tense suspenseful music that adds to the weight of the moment when an alien is scouring the area or rampaging towards you. On the contrary, there is also peaceful and serene music that plays when you’re exploring the world. The music is so well designed that even though its peaceful music has a layer of sadness and unease to it due to the world being hauntingly still and devoid of its previous occupants.
A major shoutout has to go to the artstyle and the overall visual quality of this game. Planet of Lana is one of the most gorgeous games of 2023.
It contains many environments and set pieces that made me stop and just take in the moment. From the harsh desert to the lush forests to the solemn caves, you are treated to astonishingly beautiful areas that not only impress but feel unique.
As I progressed through the campaign I often had moments where I thought “Damn that would make a dope screensaver or backdrop on my phone.” If you don’t do anything else at least look up the game’s trailer to see the visual work that was put into this game.
Unfortunately, I did run into a few bugs throughout my playthrough. The seldom reoccurring bug I experienced was that enemies got stuck in an environment after the game reloaded me to a checkpoint after I died. This was a bug of convenience because it allowed me to progress unobstructed the bug did happen nonetheless. Thankfully these instances are very rare.
Another aspect that might turn some gamers off is that there isn’t any hints to the puzzles outside of what you see in the world. If you get stuck you just have to figure it out. While some gamers will enjoy this aspect, others might want that type of aid.
Overall/Should You play Planet of Lana:
If you are a gamer that is into puzzle games then there are few that I’d recommend before Planet of Lana. The Narrative is emotional, sweet, and impactful despite the fact that there isn’t any dialogue in this game. I rolled credits around 5 hours, and the story and characters are sticking with me. While I wouldn’t say that it is the best narrative of the year, it is good. Combine that aspect with the game’s gorgeous artstyle, Sound design, soundtrack, and smart puzzles and you have a game that is a strong contender for best indie of 2023. Even though it has a few flaws, if you liked Inside or want a smaller indie with a cinematic feeling then you should check out Planet of Lana.
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