We love a tough game at the Retro Faith offices. Anything from hard to defeat foes, real head scratching puzzles or just full on endurance. You will find all these in Immortal Planet from teedoubleuGAMES. Tough games are great as long as they’re fair. Dark Souls is a great example, tough as nails but makes you improve your skills. The same process is evident in Immortal Planet, just bashing buttons will get you nowhere. You must actually learn the nuances of each weapon.
Those who do not enjoy a progressive RPG with thought provoking gameplay, or those that want all out action best turn away now. This one is all about making the correct decision at the right time, moving slowly and with purpose. Realising when you need to grind a little and when to attack that boss. Every enemy needs a different approach and you need to time every button press. The purity of its unforgiving nature gives you goals that are set yourself rather than the game guiding you. It is certainly tough but rewards those who stick with it.
Immortal Planet drops you in the deep end right from the start. There is little in the way of explanation except for a few barren control prompts in the first few screens. You must experiment with the controls to find out how to defeat enemies but this is a design choice to force the player to improve. There is no hand holding and even the reason you find yourself in a dark factory is a mystery. With every level complete you discover a little more about the strange world you find yourself in.
The game is an action RPG at heart that rewards you through good decision making on how to level up. As you kill enemies your experience points stack up. These are used to improve your skills such as strength and health. However, if you die before before spending the points they are gone and you are back to the beginning of the area with all your progress lost. If you take a gun hoe approach you will fail and never see passed the first few screens. Calmness and patience is the aim of the game and you will have to replay many parts again and again.
It is frustrating the first few times you die and watch all the precious experience disappear. But as you start to head back to the start to redeem your points, watch your character grow in strength, the mechanics start to click. It is an ingenious system that puts you firmly in control of how you want to play. The ultimate risk and reward is taking on more enemies just before you run out of health and then cashing in. However, each time you upgrade or rest you start the level again. There is also an endurance meter that depletes with each dodge or swing of the sword. It refills by itself but you’re defenceless if you bash buttons as it drops quickly.
You get real satisfaction from learning the enemy placement and before long you’re are taking down each one with a single barrage of attacks. Secondary weapons, such as magic and guns found as you progress, allow you to do big damage. They are wasted on smaller enemies and usually best saved for the bosses as each life only allows a certain amount of spells or ammo. Upgrading your stats becomes key, your total ammo at the start of each life is increased as you level up. Making the decisions between increasing your main attacks or your secondary weapons really depends on how you are approaching the game.
The controls are decent and precise, you feel as though any mistakes are your own. Collision detection is loose enough that you can use multiple angles to attack and you are empowered to create strategies. The amount of attacks is varied, as are the different weapon types. You have the option of three different types of character at the start of the game, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. This game is more about you and your improving skills more than the weapons and items though. Having a great sword is worthless if you are not learning how to wield it.
The best part of the game are the boss fights. You feel a sense of dread as they approach as they deliver serious damage. You have to take full advantage of your dodge skills to win and there will be lots of trial and error in learning the patterns. Once a boss is defeated you can move on to the next level. Each area has its own theme of sorts but still keeping with the overall dystopian look. While the rest of the level design feels simplistic it helps to create battle arenas to take on each set of foes. These mini gladiator arenas have edges you can fall off from or bash enemies over to kill them quickly.
Visually Immortal Planet has a clean look with minimalist textures. It works well and helps create the barren, lonely feel the game is aiming for. Enemies are bright and stand out but some of the item pick ups blend in and you may miss them the first time. It would have been good to see a little more variety in the background scenery but overall the graphics are good. Animations look smooth and some of the effects on show help the action to pop. The bosses stand out and are huge on screen. They tower above you and have quite a few moves each with different, colourful effects.
The sound is a bit of a let down in Immortal Planet, it does its job but does not shine through. The music is subtle but mostly forgettable and sound effects are plain. This kind of game does not need much to set the mood but we would have appreciated a little more tension being built throughout the stages. Even just a few extra tracks or boss themes would have gone some way to pleasing the ears. The sound suits the minimalist setting though and anymore may have spoiled the feel of desperation.
Immortal Planet sets its stall out to be challenging, engaging and different. It is a classic easy to learn, hard to master RPG that has the one more try feel. You will want to beat that boss or discover that pick up being guarded by a tough foe. You will get a lot of satisfaction with the slow and sure progression and each little battle feels like a huge victory. It does get a little repetitive at times but the variety of attacks allows for different strategy.
Those looking for a game that will tax your skills your brain will enjoy this one. The futuristic setting with sword style gameplay is refreshing and you become invested in finding out why you’re trapped in the endless cycle of death and resurrection. There is a lot of bang for your buck with lots of replay value. The constant progression of your character and variety of weapons means you can play through the game in many different ways.
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