Friday, August 15, 2014

Someone get the glue and scotch tape! - Shattered planet

NOTICE: This is a port of a free-to-play android game. The PC version, which this review is based on is not free-to-play, but has had it's microtransactions removed.

Roguelikes are very difficult games, there's a lot of stats and skills to keep track of, a large list of commands to deal with, and all sorts of situations that can very quickly get you killed if your not careful, made harder by the fact that that death means starting all over from square one. It's not an easy genre to get into.

Shattered planet is a roguelike that does things very differently, the first thing to come to mind is its control scheme. The game has a one click control scheme that lets the entire game be played with the mouse. Want to move? Click on where you want to go and the game does the rest. Attack an enemy? click on it. use an item? click on it, then if needed, click on what you want to use it on. It's a very easy game to control, and being turn based, there's no need to worry about not clicking fast enough.
The start of a typical dungeon floor. your support is generally not much more helpful than this.
The other thing that immediately sticks out is the games progression system. Unlike most roguelikes, you do not level up by defeating enemies and gaining experience points. Instead, you gather scrap metal that's sometimes dropped from enemies, but can also be found laying around the dungeon floor. this scrap metal can be used to buy permanent stat upgrades that stick with you between games. There's also a little strategy to this, as you can find vendors that take scrap metal in the dungeons, so you have to decide if you want to use it to buy something to help this game, or save up for those stat upgrades, which do get more expensive as time goes on. On top of scrap metal, you also gain crystal, which is slightly harder to find, but lets you do other things between trips through the dungeon like purchase equipment or extra supplies to take with you.

On top of your character there's also your research level. This game has what's called a datalog, it starts out empty, but tracks every last thing you encounter in it. The first time you beat an enemy? Find a new piece of equipment? encounter a new type of terrain or random event? It's logged in the datalog and as you discover more stuff your research level increases, granting you things like new classes to play as or new vendors to visit on the ship between games, of course, these benefits help you better progress in the game and thus discover more things to go in the datalog. The datalog is fairly large at over 300+ entries, and filling it makes a nice long term goal to work towards while playing.
The datalog starts empty, but everything you encounter gets added to it.
The game is also surprisingly fast for a roguelike, you're typical game last only a few minuets making it a very east to squeeze a game or two into a fairly short session. A bit part of the reason for this is the blight. The blight is this purple terrain that's spreads throughout each floor of the dungeon, starting from the same spot you do. Once the blight fully covers a tile, standing in it deals damage, and it will even send enemies after you once it's big enough. while there are ways to slow it down or stop it completely on any given floor, these ways aren't always readily available. The end result is your encouraged to be quick about finding the teleporter leading to the next floor and no spend too much time exploring the area.

Finally, the game comes with a few game modes, on top of the default explorer mode, which has you traveling through as seemingly endless dungeon, there's a handful of extra challenges that are harder than normal, but see you going through a dungeon of fixed length. There's also daily mode Every day, you get a challenge to travel through a 10 floor dungeon with a fixed set of equipment, and you're only given one chance to beat it. These extra modes give the game a good bit of re-playability, giving you opportunities to discover new things for the datalog, as well as acting as a good challenge for characters that have been upgraded considerably.
New discoveries help raise your research level.
Graphically, the game is very nice looking. Everything is colorful and detailed, with a very clean art style. Items and creatures are readily identifiable, and they did a good job of varying the tile sets to keep terrain interesting. There's not a lot of animation as the game is turn based: most of the game just has everyone standing around waiting to make their next move, but what animation there is is nice and smooth. Overall it's a very nice game to look at.

Sound in the game is good. There's not a lot of sound in the game, but what sound is there works, everything sounds like it sound and there's nothing odd or out of place. Music in the game is very good, it's atmospheric and fits the tone of exploring the broken remains of the planet quite nicely. it's nice to listen to and given the lack of sound helps keeps things from being too quiet.
The ship is where you get ready for your next trip through the planet.
The game does have a few flaws, namely the games simplicity is a double edged sword it's simplicity makes it easy to get into and play, there's very little to learn and while the game has a good amount of content to it it doesn't actually demand much of your time. This is a game you can readily play without having to set a lot of time aside for and that's honestly really nice. The problem is it's simplistic. There's no skills, no crafting, no stat points or even many stats at all, if you're coming from a beefier roguelike, there's not a lot here.

Overall I like the game despite how simplistic it is, and will likely still be playing it every now and then for awhile yet. I'd say it's worth a look but you honestly need to know what you're getting into. It's a fun, simple game that's easy to get into. Great if you're new to the genre and want something simple to start with, or just simply want a lite roguelike to play every once in awhile. but if you're a hardcore rogue fanatic looking for something to replace Dungeons of Dreadmor or Sword of the Stars: The pit with? you might want to look elsewhere.

Shattered Planet is developed by Kitfox Games. It is available on Steam. It's homepage, which includes an option to purchase directly from the developer, is available here and it's soundtrack is available on Bandcamp.

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