I found a shortcut to this game in my desktop folder and couldn't
remember how it got there. So I clicked on it – isn't that what you do
with unfamiliar links?? – and the result was about 8 hours of
platforming planet exploration.
A 15 year journey to a distant planet goes wrong from the get go. The
crash landing, the missing crew, the lack of the supposedly abundant
life, not to mention the bizarre find over the horizon. But first there
is a need for oxygen to attend to.
Graphically it's a middling experience, although some of the 20 or so
vistas verge on impressive. There is night (your flashlight will help)
and day, deserts, geysers and volcanoes among others.
While there is blockiness and overall drabness to the visuals, I
thought it suited where we were. Cranking the settings up to their
fullest produced some excellent lighting effects, and there were a
number of other nice touches as well (little puffs of dust as I traipsed
the landscape for instance). Buildings exist but are largely secondary
to the natural environment, and alien artifacts get a look in as well.
What the game does really well is produce a palpable feeling of
vertigo as you scale cliffs and clamber over the environment. I felt the
potential plummet into the void in the pit of my stomach each time I
went too close to a vertiginous edge. I invariably walked rather than
ran in such settings, and would have crawled had the game allowed.
Except when more ambitious activity was required to survive. A
careful walk won't cut it when the cross-wind is trying to blow you off
There is some mild puzzling in your exploration, including pushing
things around to affect the environment to allow you to move forward,
and blowing the occasional thing up. You also have to power up a number
of objects, which involves finding and then placing a power stone. None
of it is hard, if a bit fiddly at times, most notably when using your
robot arm appendage.
The challenge came with the platforming. Jumping is your stock in
trade, assisted by your jetpack. Now and then you will also find fuel
cannisters enabling you to make more ambitious leaps. I found these
easier than the more ordinary ones, as you have more scope to affect the
outcome during the course of the jump. Which doesn't mean you won't fall
to your death numerous times, and shriek in frustration as a multiple
sequence fails yet again at the penultimate hurdle.
Some leaping is straightforward, other leaping less so. Things can
collapse shortly after you land, a plant will impale you, much like a
closing Venus flytrap, if you hesitate on its surface too long, and you
can slide off or by blown off your course.
Your frustration may well be exacerbated by the fact that you can't
save at will. While a death may restore you at a mid-point in a tricky
sequence, near as I could tell you need to get through to the next
autosave point if you want to exit and not start the sequence again. The
little pop-up floppy drive icon become my best friend, and I thanked it
profusely more than once.
The game plays in the third person, and I used a mouse and keyboard.
You move forward with the W key, and steer with the mouse. Moving the
mouse can also rotate the camera perspective around your character in
complete 360 degrees, and the mouse wheel zooms the perspective in and
out. I expect most players will settle for a "behind and slightly
above" camera position, which is easily varied should the
particular occasion require.
As well as falling, there are other things that can and will kill you
on the planet. You will learn to recognise these, as well as how to
The need to find oxygen pops up now and then, as does the requirement
for jetpack fuel. This aspect felt a little contrived, as what you need
is always nearby, and the exhaustion is not dependent on how you use it
in the game, but rather is determined by reaching the relevant point
(e.g. your fuel runs out when you no longer need it to complete the
I liked how it sounded, musically and environmentally. I also liked
my little Duplo-style astronaut character.
Most of the time knew what my next objective was, although there was
a sequence near the end that I have no idea about. About halfway through
I also couldn't work out where to go next, and called on a walkthrough
The Steam page says that Lifeless Planet is inspired by Cold War era
science fiction stories, posing questions about humankind's desire for
space travel. A few big issues are raised, and the story (it too was a
middling experience) is told through audio logs and documents that you
find as you explore. These are easy to find, a little globular glow
being the indicator.
While there are better puzzling platformers, I did enjoy this quite a
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700k 3.7 GHz