Releasing on a new platform is always a big deal for a game, especially when it comes over a year from its release elsewhere. It’s a chance for a fresh start and for the developer to fix issues that plagued previous versions. Some developers have been able to breathe new life into flawed titles thanks to stellar upgraded ports. Sadly, that isn’t the case with Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition as it makes its way to PlayStation 4.
Originally released on PC in 2014, and on Xbox One last year, Lifeless Planet has finally stumbled its way onto Sony’s home console. Unlike what its name suggests, this version is not the best way to play it. In fact, it’s by far the worst version of Stage 2 Studios’ space exploration game that stars an astronaut trying to figure out what’s going on with the planet he’s flown to.
Old Game, New Issues
The core of Lifeless Planet hasn’t been changed. Players still control an awkwardly stiff astronaut who has a short-burst jetpack and little else, as he searches a mysterious planet. A planet that was thought to be lifeless—wait for it—but actually isn’t. While the initial twist isn’t shocking, the details are a bit more interesting as this planet held a Soviet base (albeit one that has seemingly vanished).
It certainly plants the seed for an interesting story, but sadly I had more fun theorizing what happened in my mind than actually learning what actually happened in the game. The story is largely told through journal entries, so expect a lot of reading as you uncover the planet’s history. There are a few fun twists along the way, but it concludes in such a lame way that I didn’t feel like it was worth the journey. At least not on PlayStation 4..
I’m not sure what happened or if it’s an unfortunate side effect of the engine it uses, but Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition is a chore to play on PS4. This is due to the game’s camera constantly readjusting itself while the player walks. This constant judder, which wasn’t experienced (at least not to this degree) on Xbox One, is a constant annoyance and one that made the already stiff playing game more frustrating. It became very difficult to line up the precise jumps the game often had me make (often times in succession), and had a huge negative impact on my enjoyment.
Even if the camera wasn’t a constant nuisance, players aren’t left with a very interesting game. Lifeless Planet is filled with a bunch of mechanics such as oxygen consumption, upgraded space suits and puzzle solving, but none of them are fleshed out. In fact, most of them are scripted events that feel like they were added in haphazardly and aren’t actually gameplay systems. I only ever started to run out of oxygen when there was a conveniently located oxygen tank (which are seen nowhere else in the game) nearby, and I only got a temporary jetpack boost when I had to make long jumps. There’s no feeling of adventure, just a linear game that makes half-hearted attempts at variety.
There’s some light puzzle solving, but the majority of the game is just jumping along from area to area. As mentioned before, the jumping feels bad and now the camera moves while you leap through the air making it even more disorienting. It’s easy to get lost due to how open some of the areas are (despite needing to take a linear route to succeed most of the time), but typically there will be a mysterious green path that leads the way.
There are moments where the game’s potential shines through, but it’s more like a kick to the gut than something enjoyable. Whenever the game managed to impress me with its visuals, I was left wondering why some other textures looked like a PS2 game. I couldn’t even enjoy what the game did right, since what it did wrong was so much more overwhelming. Every cool moment, idea and story beat seems wasted here. It’s a complete bummer and I really wish the developer could’ve realized their vision better.
Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition doesn’t fix its issues on PlayStation 4, and instead adds new ones. That’s unacceptable, and very disappointing as there is still a promising game tucked underneath all these issues that is waiting to be seen. Sadly, I don’t think it ever will be seen at this point, and in its current iteration it just is not worth your time. See you later, space cowboy.
A PlayStation 4 copy of Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition was provided by the publisher. To learn more about our score,read our review policy.