I think I love robots. Yes, sometimes they turn on their masters and eventually kill all humankind as we know it, but on the bright side they’re a lot of fun – and to be fair there are a lot of good ones around who don’t want to murder you. We’ve already had WALL-E, that weird kid and the teddy bear in AI and Metal Mickey. In Planet of the Eyes there is also a great robot – it has no name, but you will grow to love it as you play through this interesting sci-fi indie game. But will you do the robot dance after playing?
Planet of the Eyes is a story driven platforming adventure game, very much like Limbo or Typoman. You play a service robot that is stranded on a strange planet and goes in search of his master. On his travels he finds audiotapes from his maker, all of which tell the story of how he came to be and the secrets of this strange new world.
The gameplay is very simple; you have a jump button, and an action button for turning on switches or pulling items. You travel left to right across the screen, exploring the world as you do so. You have no doubt played a game like this a hundred times before, so it will feel like riding a bike, but as you progress, you’ll come across enjoyable puzzles and exploration conundrums to conquer. These are a lot of fun and not too tricky, but you might end up scratching your little robot head for a short while.
The world design is brilliant, with unusual topiary, creatures and platform designs that will delight as you bounce around the screen. The good news is that the save points are pretty frequent, so dying isn’t a chore as you don’t have to do much backtracking at all between each death. The deaths are also quite spectacular in their execution – and sometimes quite funny. There are also a load of achievements for dying in certain traps, so keep your eye out for them if you wish to grab the Gamerscore.
Planet of the Eyes has been out on PC for a while, picking up a number of awards for its labours. This is evident from the work on display, especially in the gameplay and design. The one problem I have though is with the length of the game. It does feel a bit on the short side at around 2 hours long, but the price is low enough to make the journey worthwhile.
The story on display here is told by a collection of voice recordings you find from your maker, with the rest of the narrative told visually throughout the world. As you view these strange amazing alien landscapes and backdrops, you’ll come up with your own conclusions about what makes the planet work and who might live there. For me that can be the best type of storytelling found in games, where everything comes from your imagination. Within the audiotapes, you have a personal account telling fragments of a narrative woven by a man who’s trying to work things out at the same time as the audience. He questions the motives of the planet, the origins of why he made you in the first place and the discovery of our real purpose in the universe. All this is told with some fantastic writing, which really understands the genre of sci-fi and that is what makes it great. By the end of my journey I had many questions, thoughts and feelings about what I’d just experienced, but I didn’t feel I had been short changed or disappointed with the outcome.
The art style found in Planet of the Eyes is lush and vibrant. The game’s backdrops show a world that looks huge and imposing, whilst the colours and shading remind me of some of those great sci-fi comics of the 70s. The creature design is fabulous too and it’s a world I look forward to visiting again soon. An award winning sound composer has designed the soundtrack and you can tell – it’s a brilliant mix of electronic sounds and sweeping majestic scores that really enhance the gameplay and the experience. The voiceover work from the main actor in the audiotapes is a perfect mix of gravitas and emotion. If he could do the voiceover of my life story, I wouldn’t say no.
I love Planet of the Eyes. It’s a short game, but a perfect adventure that comes with a smart sci-fi story. The looks of the game are a beautiful homage to sci-fi comics and work really well in this platform extravaganza, all while a masterclass in sound and a brilliant voiceover help make a great game. Yes there’s nothing new here to crow about, and yes you’ve played similar platformers, but it’s the journey that counts and I would follow this robot to the end of the universe.