History is probably going to look back on No Man's Sky well. While it had a rough launch, it's proven to be an inspiring release, with many other games taking up the exploration mantel in the years that followed. Each has their own approach to the concept, adding onto the foundations left behind by Hello Games. With Journey to the Savage Planet, Typhoon Studios chose to add off-kilter humor to the mix, a potentially volatile combination that gels like freshly poured food paste.
You play as a new hire of Kindred Aerospace, the space exploration company that's proud to be in fourth place. As you wake up in your space pod, an appropriately cheesy commercial plays. The production has a CEO with all the energy of a used car salesman and a look to match. This is just one of several videos I saw in the demo, each one setting the tone for the rest of the game beautifully.
Your mission on this new world is to scan flora and fauna wherever you find it. If judged livable, the planet will become a human colony and you'll theoretically move onto the next one. The only thing is that there are some big artifacts on the world, enough to extend your stay so you can uncover the mysteries that await within.
Your equipment is as shoddy as you'd expect with that intro, although it does what it needs to do. You've got a laser pistol that overheats easily, cans of food goo to attract small creatures and some biological bounce pads to throw on the floor. Other tools can be crafted using material you find on the world, although you need to bring it back to your ship to cash it in. Die without returning and you'll need to go on a corpse run, which can be tough if you fell off a high cliff.
The demo didn't have as much variety in wildlife as I might have liked. The main creatures were small puffin puffballs that mostly left you alone if you wandered past. Feeding them will make them fart out crafting material, just be sure to throw the food around the puffins. Throwing the gel onto a living creature will mark it as food for everything surrounding it. It's not a pretty sight.
Objectives can also be a little obscured if you're jumping right into the world. There's a Skyrim-style compass at the top of your hud, but the game hides your markers otherwise unless you use a certain scanner. Different players will find things in different areas of course, but it wasn't the best experience to wander for most of my demo just taking in the scenery without any meaningful progress.
Thankfully, there's a lot of potential beyond my limited experience. Once I started building what little I could with my remaining time, I found an impressive scope in the upgrade trees. Lovers of games like Metroid Prime will be right at home discovering hidden environments and the tools to reach them. There isn't much combat to be had in Savage Planet, but the exploration more than makes up for it.
If I had to describe Journey to the Savage Planet in one succinct comparison, it would be No Man's Sky by way of Adult Swim. Journeying through different biomes and bringing home upgrade materials is a great loop, one that will feel much better once the limitations of the E3 show floor fade away back at home. Till then, I'll at least have the memories of the excellent Kindred Aerospace ads. If the rest of the game has even half that much personality, then it will certainly be a trip worth taking.
TechRaptor previewed Journey to the Savage Planet at E3 2019 behind closed doors at the 505 Games meeting area.
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2019 Coverage Hub.