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Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Lifeless Planet does an excellent job of creating a unique alien world full of gorgeous sights to take in. Unfortunately, the game built around this inhabitable world lacks thrills and excitement. The puzzles are simple and repetitive, and too much of the game involves poorly constructed platforming sections. Both as a game and a vacation spot, Lifeless Planet is occasionally beautiful, but seriously lacking in the amenities. Rating: 50%
Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition
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Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition
  • Review Score:

  • C
It's funny how little science fiction has to do to be compelling. While crime thrillers are constantly forced to up their game with new twists and an increasingly convoluted plot, sci-fi requires little more than dropping a lone survivor on a deserted alien planet to be intriguing. Our brains are hardwired to be curious, so it doesn't take much for a game like Lifeless Planet to suck you in.

Here you play an astronaut who has crash landed on what was supposed to be a planet ready to sustain life. But the moment he steps off the badly damaged ship it becomes obvious that something is not right. There's no sign of the crew, and the local Russian camp has been abandoned. Worse yet, the lush vegetation we were promised has been replaced by a harsh landscape full of murderous bushes.


While this may sound like the setup to the year's scariest survival horror game, Lifeless Planet is actually a 3D platformer that is more interested in puzzle solving than jump scares. This is a game about exploring the planet's varied terrain and picking up clues along the way. The challenge doesn't come from fighting difficult enemies, but rather trying to figure out how to navigate the unruly environment.

Without giving too much of the story away, we quickly realize that this planet isn't exactly lifeless. We see hints of what looks like a subterranean alien, as well as a mysterious woman who seems to be following the stranded astronaut. It's only after you've delved into the deepest, darkest bowels of this alien planet that you'll finally understand how all the moving parts tie together.

The developers hope you'll be so enamored with the gorgeous backdrops and invested in the story that you completely overlook the paper-thin gameplay. With no combat and only a couple insignificant upgrades, most of the time is spent wandering around and looking for the right path. It's more exciting than I make it sound, but anybody looking for a game filled with action-packed moments will be left cold by Lifeless Planet.

Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Part of the problem is that the game lacks any sense of urgency. There are only a few moments when the astronaut is worried about running out of oxygen, and those are always part of larger scripted moments. For as hostile as the landscape appears, it rarely fights back and can be explored at pretty much any pace. The rare times the game does make you dodge boulders or jump on disappearing platforms are few and far between, resulting in a game that often feels uneventful.

The slow burn wouldn't be so bad if the puzzles were more interesting. Instead of working through elaborate brain teasers, many of the puzzles feel like they were tacked on at the last second. The most popular variation involves players using a robot arm to move a space rock into a hole to create power. This mindless task is repeated multiple times throughout the game and never evolves beyond the basic premise. The same goes for the rest of the puzzles, which usually involve pushing rocks around in order to reach tall ledges.

And yet, even when the game wasn't wowing me with action scenes or compelling puzzles, I continued to be engaged by the alien world and science fiction setup. Sadly, the game's promising narrative comes up a little short. Lifeless Planet hints at a deeper story about dealing with loss and regret, but it always feels like the game is holding back. It doesn't help that most of the story is doled out through written logs and documents hidden across the planet.

Lifeless Planet: Premier Edition (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

For all its faults, Lifeless Planet does get a few things right. I found many of the locations to be breathtaking, and the game does an excellent job conveying the planet's enormous size. It's also diverse. You can tell that a lot of time and care has gone into making each area feel unique. The atmospheric music and sound design also helps to sell the mood. The frame rate isn't always stable and there are some character models towards the end that are a bit questionable, but I was largely impressed with the overall presentation.

Given the incredible vistas and uniquely alien landscapes, it's a shame the astronaut isn't given more to do. Lifeless Planet's pace can best be described as meandering, and too much of the game revolves around walking from Point A to Point B. The story's twists and turns aren't enough to keep this game interesting for long, which is a shame given the compelling setup. Both as a game and a vacation spot, Lifeless Planet is occasionally beautiful, but seriously lacking in the amenities.
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