Journey to the Savage Planet is a fiercely witty adventure that takes you to a strange new world begging to be explored. It's a game that rewards wandering off the beaten track, with an acerbic tone that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
Developer Typhoon Studios have indulged absurdity at every turn, with creature designs that look like Spore on steroids. The ever present Pufferbirds are a clear highlight, and their carbon excrement is actually a useful resource.
That last sentence alone should be enough to convey the tone of this experience; everything is fair game here, with self-deprecating voice over, snide remarks, and even in world advertising reminding you that this is a far cry from what you'd expect.
In fact, defying expectations is what this game does best. What starts as a routine survey mission quickly devolves into a mad dash for upgrades and new resources. At the same time, you're given ample opportunity to smell the roses, scanning various creatures and plant life to glean new traversal mechanics, or elements to exploit. The optional two player co-op doubles the fun and makes this even more enjoyable.
As far as the mechanics are concerned, the first person gameplay is hardly groundbreaking. There's limited environmental activity, and a fairly small selection of offensive tools at your disposal.
Where things get particularly spicy is when bait comes into play, allowing you to manipulate creature behaviour to your advantage. There are so many lovely flourishes here, either from unique animations or auditory responses that will bring an involuntary smile to the face of even the most cynical gamer.
You get a sense that Savage Planet goes out of its way to surprise and delight, and this is most evident in the overall quest structure. You'll effortlessly stumble upon hidden secrets and optional tasks. The world isn't massive by any stretch of the imagination, but it's densely packed with detail and nuance that makes indulging tangents consistently rewarding.
Keep an eye out for the live action infomercials, which are filled with "blink and you'll miss it" nuggets of comedy, as well as constant reminders that the safety and well being of the player character is largely secondary to profit and scientific discovery. It creates a tone that is equal parts cutting, and thoroughly enjoyable.
This has clearly been a labour of love, and it's apparent in almost every aspect of the game. This is also a much more technically polished final release than the build we sampled at EGX 2019; the framerate is rock solid, and textures look sharp across the board on Xbox One X.
Not every creature design and biome hit the mark, with some parts looking a tad generic. But despite Kindred Airspace being the fourth best in the sector, for the most part, Savage Planet aims higher.
If you're a fan of setting your own pace and tightly written comedy, Journey to the Savage Planet is exactly the kind of mad cap sci-fi odyssey you've been looking for. We cannot recommend this one enough.
Journey to the Savage Planet is available now, for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Review copy provided by 505 Games.