Despite being an inferior console on a technical basis when compared to the likes of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, developers have certainly managed to squeeze every bit of power out of the Nintendo Switch when bringing their multi-platform releases to the system. Titles such as Alien Isolation, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Metro: Exodus have all managed to look and play VERY impressively on Nintendo’s portable platform, and honestly, I’m constantly blown away by the selection of games that have made the transition so well.
Journey to the Savage Planet is the most recent release to launch on the Nintendo Switch following its critical success on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in January this year and, much like those titles I previously mentioned, the move has been a successful one. Sure, it has made some sacrifices as far as visual quality is concerned and there can be performance dips in places, but it still offers a mighty satisfying sci-fi escapade that will completely hook players in – even better, they can now do it all on the go.
We reviewed Journey to the Savage Planet on the PlayStation 4 in January and what we said about the narrative and gameplay still applies here – you can check that out down below or read the full review through this link:
“Journey to the Savage Planet sees players working for an organisation known as Kindred Aerospace that has the goal of exploring planets and finding those that are ideal for humanity to settle on. This means heading to unexplored planets and finding out if they’re safe, habitable, and what else might be living there. You visit a planet known as ARY-26, but the journey there has seen you run out of fuel – it’s up to you to use your tools to put together a new form of fuel to make your way home, all whilst taking the time to uncover more about the planet in the process.
There’s nothing particularly unique about the game’s narrative, with the whole ‘stranded on an alien planet’ thing done plenty of times across the sci-fi medium. The story doesn’t really take any interesting twists-and-turns either, with everything proving to be pretty predictable throughout. Fortunately, it manages to stay interesting thanks to its comedic elements, with plenty of silly and zany things to encounter across the game – both on the planet and through the strange messages that you receive from the peculiar boss of Kindred Aerospace. Don’t expect to be blown away by Journey to the Savage Planet’s narrative, but do expect it to make you chuckle.
Your goal in Journey to the Savage Planet is to explore the ‘savage planet’, learn more about its eco-system (the creatures and plant life), and then find the fuel needed to fly your way back home. This means venturing across its beautiful yet deadly environments, scanning everything you can find to learn more about it, and clearing all the missions that are given to you on the way.
It’s simple stuff, but there are plenty of different elements that ensure it remains fun. Meeting the wildlife is always a treat for example. Not because they’re all friendly because believe me, some are mean – it’s because they’re so creative and bizarre in design that you’ll be left wondering what weird creature you’ll encounter next. That aforementioned scanner always gives fun tid-bits of information about them too, and it’s always neat to learn more about the world.
Actually exploring is also pretty satisfying, which is something that’s owed to just how well-designed the world is and how handy the tools that you have at your disposal are. I mean, you’ve got a jump pack and a grappling hook – what more could you want? Whilst these are pretty standard tools in a video game, the way they’re utilised here ensures that traversal is always a treat in Journey to the Savage Planet.
ARY-26 is considered a ‘savage planet’ for a reason though, so you can expect to face a lot of danger during your adventure. Fortunately, death isn’t the end, with the player able to be ‘replicated’ and head back on their adventure (mostly) fuss-free. You’re also able to re-visit your corpse in order to gather any resources you lost, though it is a little morbid to scavenge through your own remains… you can even bury yourself, which is particularly strange! The only downside to all of this is that you replicate back at your home ship, which means there’s a bit of backtracking to do in order to return to your previous location. Thankfully, there are some decent fast-travel mechanics in place so you can get back to the action pretty quickly… well… outside of the sometimes lengthy load-times.
There’s a big emphasis on exploration in Journey to the Savage Planet and a lot of your enjoyment will come down to how much you appreciate the sense of discovery it offers. Besides the fact that you’re tasked with uncovering as many different resources as you can and scanning the creatures and plant life that inhabit the planet, you’ve also got to work out which areas are safe to venture across and which you may want to steer clear of until you’re more prepared. There are plenty of secrets to uncover on the planet too, some of which only the keenest of explorers will uncover.
Of course, there’s also a fair bit of guidance in place and the main missions always ensure you’re headed on the right track. Those who want to get the most out of Journey to the Savage Planet will want to head off the beaten track and explore though, with the most satisfying discoveries in the game being those that you find by complete chance. It’s good stuff.
You’re able to improve your own capabilities whilst exploring the planet, with side quests and science experiments seeing you unlock all-new gear – provided you have the resources to craft them, of course. You’re also able to improve your stats by collecting the strange orange goo that’s found on the planet, so you’ll always want to keep an eye out for that. I mean, it’s bright orange so it does stand out for the most part, but it’s definitely worth scouring the planet for just to make sure that you prep yourself for some of ARY-26’s harsher challenges.
Everything just comes together nicely to make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It manages to keep its main mechanics simple so nothing feels overwhelming, but without sacrificing the sense of discovery you feel as you explore the planet, the sense of danger when you’re uncovering uncharted areas for the first time, or the satisfaction you’ll have when completing the many missions you’re tasked with on your adventure. It’s just a lot of fun to play and feels really jolly throughout (well… outside of all of the vicious deaths you’ll suffer) whilst the sense of progression you’ll feel both from a gameplay and discovery perspective never stops feeling rewarding.
There’s also the option to play in online multiplayer with a friend, but it’s not something I’ve had the chance to try yet. If it’s anything like single player though, I’m sure it’ll be a blast – especially since it focuses more on co-operative action than trying to take each other down.
I’ve got plenty of praise to heap on Journey to the Savage Planet, but it’s not a flawless experience. For one, the shooting in the game can feel a little clunky when compared to your typical first-person shooter. Of course, Journey to the Savage Planet isn’t TRYING to be a typical shooter so it can’t be held against the game too much, but it was a little disappointing that it wasn’t more enjoyable to take down ARY-26’s more hostile creatures.
Some of the missions could feel a little uninspired too, particularly the side missions such as the science experiments that challenge you to kill enemies in specific ways. These just felt like a bit of a drag, and whilst they do encourage creativity, it often felt like more fuss than it was worth. Of course, some of the side missions do offer some really neat scenarios that show how wacky the game can be too, but there are a few duds along the way.
Then there’s the fact you can’t pause the game. Sure, it’s a minor issue, but not having the freedom to just stop the action when you need to grab a drink or answer your phone put me in a few troubling situations in-game. Admittedly, the negatives of Journey to the Savage Planet are outweighed by its positives, but there’s no doubting that it does have some flaws here and there.
One area in which it consistently shines is with its visual presentation, with ARY-26 making for a beautiful landscape that’s full of rich and vibrant sights. The unusual creatures that you encounter make it feel like a living and breathing habitat too, whilst some of the more unique discoveries you make on the believable-alien world certainly help cement the wonder of being in a land like no other.”
So, it’s pretty clear that Journey to the Savage Planet is a fun game to play, but how does it perform on the Nintendo Switch?
Visually, it can be a bit of a mixed bag, though in fairness it never looks ugly. The vibrant landscapes that looked so good on the PlayStation 4 version of the game still feel lovely here and it’s hard not to be impressed at just how imaginative everything manages to look. I was still left in awe at some of the bizarre sights of the world and blasting my way through alien flora and fauna kept a big smile on my face – I would know, the Nintendo Switch’s screen would show my squished-up reflection during loading screens.
However, it’s clear that a lot of graphical detail has been dropped in the Nintendo Switch version of the game and there were plenty of sketchy textures to be found across the environment. I also noticed a fair bit of pop-in when exploring some of the bigger locales, which could break the immersion a bit. There was also a bit of fuzziness to the world when looking at it across a distance when playing in the handheld mode, and whilst the blurriness wasn’t as bad as some multi-platform games I’ve played on the Nintendo Switch, it could still be a little jarring in places.
It might sound like I’m hating on the visuals of the game here, but honestly, it can be REALLY impressive at times… it can also look pretty ordinary and flawed in places too, though. Maybe I’m being a little bit harsh on the game after being so impressed by the visuals on the PlayStation 4, because as far as Nintendo Switch releases are concerned it looks pretty good. The frame rate is mostly consistent too, though you will notice some minor drops here and there. It never feels unplayable by any stretch of the imagination and the game is generally pretty smooth, but you should certainly expect to see it dip from 30fps on more than a few occasions – especially during the game’s busier sequences.
Despite some of its visual and technical flaws, I was left impressed by the Nintendo Switch port of Journey to the Savage Planet. It might not look as pretty as it does on other platforms and it can see some dips in the frame rate at times too, but it still offers an impressive and vibrant alien world that’s packed with to the brim with awesome sights, addictively rewarding explorative gameplay, and a jolly escapade that’s full of good vibes throughout.
If you skipped Journey to the Savage Planet when it initially released on other platforms earlier this year, it’s definitely worth checking out on the Nintendo Switch. It might not always hit the same highs that it did on the technically superior platforms, but it still offers a mighty fun journey for players to blast through.
Developer: Typhoon Studios
Publisher: 505 Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC