Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Planet of the Eyes Review (PS4)

Of all of the indie games that have tried to copy the Playdead LIMBO / INSIDE formula for 2D puzzle platformers in the last couple of years, Planet of the Eyes comes the closest to getting it right. With a cute little dancing robot protagonist, a bright and colorful alien world to explore, and really nice feeling controls, Planet of the Eyes seems like the next indie 2D puzzle platforming darling. It’s over far too quickly, however, and because the puzzles are mostly easy and straightforward, it isn’t particularly memorable. Planet of the Eyes still enjoyable, but falls short of being anything special. See our full Planet of the Eyes PS4 review for all of the details.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Cococucumber
  • Developer: Cococucumber
  • ESRB Rating: “E10” for Everyone 10+
  • Genre: 2D Platformer
  • Pros: Colorful visuals; dance button!; feels great to play
  • Cons: Very short; pretty easy; mostly forgettable
  • MSRP: $10

In Planet of the Eyes you play as a little robot that has crash-landed on an alien planet. Your objective is to follow a sort of breadcrumb trail of audio logs left behind by the robot’s creator who set out to explore the planet before the robot woke up. The audio logs detail the creation of the robot and the reaction of the other humans on the ship to it as rapid advancements were made to its functionality and artificial intelligence. The game has a 1950’s sci-fi aesthetic that is, unfortunately, mostly underutilized, but it gives the story of “scary” new robot technology some vital context.

The robot itself, of course, actually isn’t scary at all. It’s just sort of cute, really. All it can do is push and pull objects as well as jump and climb on ledges. Oh, and you can make it dance anytime you want with the press of a button. Now, you wouldn’t think that randomly dancing whenever you want would be that great of a feature, but there are a lot of moments in Planet of the Eyes that seem like they were designed specifically to be perfect dancing opportunities. Have time to kill during an auto scrolling section? Time to dance! Just outsmarted an alien monster? Time to dance! Standing in front of weird alien eye stalks? Time to dance! Barely survived a platforming section by the skin of your teeth? You better believe it’s time to dance!

Aside from the dancing, however, Planet of the Eyes is surprisingly straightforward and relatively simple. The game only takes 90-minutes or so to complete and doesn’t ever really present any sort of real challenge until the very end. You explore different biomes of the planet – a normal rocky area, a water area protected by a laser, a volcano, etc. – as you run from left to right. Each area provides some unique puzzles, but if you’ve played LIMBO or INSIDE you’ll know exactly what to expect. 

You’ll push and pull objects around to reach different areas or ride across hazards, pull switches to activate or deactivate machines, and have to adjust your speed to avoid falling obstacles and traps. It’s all really fairly obvious and simple and easy. But unlike the similar games that came out before and since – Planet of the Eyes was originally released on Steam in 2015 - it doesn’t have any especially great or memorable puzzles or moments or plot twists. The gameplay is still quite enjoyable overall, though, and it feels good to play. The controls are precise and the game is fun. It’s all just so simple and bland, though, especially compared to the competition.

All in all, Planet of the Eyes is a very well executed 2D puzzle platformer but is missing that magic touch to make it really stand out. It is too short, too easy, and too safe to the point that even an adorable dancing robot and very appealing presentation aren’t enough to elevate it beyond mediocrity. It’s a game you’ll want to love, but you’ll beat it and immediately forget almost everything about it. Even with all of that said, however, Planet of the Eyes does have one important feature that make it worth checking out – the $10 price tag. Ten dollars for 90-minutes of enjoyable, but mostly forgettable, gameplay with a cute robot and lots of fairly easy trophies / achievements isn’t bad at all and fans of 2D puzzle platformers will definitely have a good time. Buy it, but keep your expectations in check. 
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.