General game information
Game name: Immortal Planet
Release date: July 27, 2017
Price: US$ 14.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: Action RPG
Immortal Planet is the next title from teedoubleuGAMES a team led by Tomasz Waclawek (creator of Ronin, a turn-based stealth game inspired by Tom Francis’ Gunpoint, but rife with new ideas and gameplay mechanics). In a way, Immortal Planet follows the same path as Mr. Waclawek’s previous game, as it’s also heavily inspired by an existing title, though in this case it’s the Souls series.
Setting and story
We play as an Awakewalker, a humanoid being that has been sleeping in a cryo chamber for an indeterminate amount of time. After being released from our pod, we’ll have to set out on a journey to save the titular Immortal Planet, as something has gone horribly wrong and the world is now full of sleepless immortals that will attack us on sight.
The story is intriguing, and the writers did a great job with the item descriptions and the way the world reveals itself to us through them. As a true Souls-like (is that even a real term?) Immortal Planet plays its plot cards very close to its chest, but it does so with aplomb, and I felt that the endings were worth the effort of beating the game.
Players familiar with the Souls saga will feel right at home here, since most of Immortal Planet‘s gameplay mechanics have direct counterparts in From Software‘s acclaimed series.
Upon awakening, we’ll be asked to pick a starting gift (there are three options available, which include the ability to regain health if we attack immediately after being wounded, a parry feature, and the ability to replenish our stamina with perfectly timed dodges) and a main weapon (again, there are three different options). After choosing our gift and weapon, we’ll embark on a non guided tutorial, teaching us the core concepts behind Immortal Planet‘s gameplay.
Combat revolves around positioning, timing and stamina management, punishing reckless attacks and rewarding patience and observation. A lock on system lets us single out the enemy we want to kill first, and much like the Souls series, we can separate troublesome groups of foes if we get in visual range of a single one (or use a ranged weapon/spell to kite them).
Attacking, dodging, running and blocking are actions that consume stamina, but our character isn’t alone in this limitation, as the enemy forces that will attempt to cut us down as we proceed through the world of Immortal Planet must also manage their stamina lest they tire themselves and become easy targets for our unrelenting attacks. Interestingly, we can see our foes’ stamina meters right above their health bars, so any mid-fight resource management should also take into account our enemies’ state if we wish to defeat them without losing too much health.
Aside from the simple melee attack, we can also use ranged weaponry (which requires ammunition/going back to our pod to rest) spells and every main weapon can be “awakened” adding new functionality (for instance, a sword can be turned into a spear which has longer range, and the awakening animation also triggers a special attack which deals massive damage and can be used to throw enemies off cliffs). Backstabs aren’t an option, sadly, but most maps feature botomless pits that can be used creatively when our foes run out of stamina.
Defeated enemies drop experience points which can be used to level up our character, strengthening different traits such as health, stamina, melee damage, etc. If we die before getting back to our pod we’ll drop all the experience points we were carrying with us, and unless we get back to the point where we fell and retrieve our remains, we’ll lose them forever. Non-boss characters will respawn when we die or go back to the cryo pod to rest/level up, so we should always be on our guard when leaving the safe area.
Once we get to a boss, we’ll have to carefully observe its moveset before committing to a reckless attack sequence. As expected from a game that takes its Souls inspiration very seriously, bosses can unleash all sorts of powerful strikes upon us and they will take a lot of punishment before going down. Luckily, although they have a far larger pool of stamina than the regular mobs we’ll face as we make our way towards them, bosses are still bound to the same rules as everyone else, so we can exploit their recovery time to land a few “free” hits. If things go south, we should try to get as far away from them as possible and use our health kits, as we’ll be vulnerable while performing this action.
Healing items aren’t plentiful, and their relative scarcity will often force us to scour the map looking for boxes which may surprise us with a hidden enemy from time to time, but will always drop a health charge. In order to make exploration less repetitive, the game features non linear maps full of hidden shortcuts. Thankfully, this means that we won’t have to traverse the same environment over and over again if we die to a boss or a particularly crafty enemy.
Exploring the wide open maps will also reward us with new weapons and spells that will prove invaluable as we face late game bosses. Elevators and moving platforms add interesting touches to the environment, and we’ll always have to be mindful of the bottomless pits that stand ready, waiting to punish absent minded adventurers.
Graphics, sound and performance
Immortal Planet is far from a technological marvel, but its sci-fi world feels alive thanks to lovingly rendered backgrounds and detailed sprites. Smooth animations will not only make fights look like carefully staged ballet performances, but also help us in combat, as we can use them to predict our enemies’ actions.
Melee weapons clash with satisfying metallic noises, and laser shots sizzle as they cross the air. The soundtrack is barely audible during normal gameplay, but it instantly picks up when facing bosses, generating adrenaline and making the player feel like they are part of something epic.
Performance was rock solid for me, something that is actually incredibly important for this sort of game, as even a minor framerate drop can ruin fights. Sadly, the graphics options are very limited (for instance, there’s no way to run the game in a window) so some players may have a different experience.
Immortal Planet manages to capture the elusive greatness of the Souls series from a new perspective. Players looking for tight combat, excellent world building and intricate level design will not be disappointed with teedoubleuGames‘ latest release.
8/10 (Very good)