Published on June 5th, 2023 | by Andrew Bistak
The Planet of Lana Xbox Series X Review @Wishfully_Games @thunderfulgames @planetoflana
Summary: The Planet of Lana is a beautiful narrative on the Xbox Series X with engaging gameplay.
Imagine a game that mirrors the imagination and magic of the world-famous Studio Ghibli, has parallels to the chaos from War of the Worlds, adds a pinch of action from Prince of Persia and two spoons of awesomeness from Limbo and that is what The Planet of Lana feels like. Welcome to the next level of gaming with The Planet of Lana…
This beautifully presented and heartfelt game on the Xbox Series X (also available on PC) follows a young girl called Lana on a distant planet whose older sister Ilo and her fellow citizens are abducted by “aliens”. With his world literally torn apart a second time for Lana, she befriends a strange catlike creature called Mui that together embark on a dangerous journey across their home planet.
At its core, The Planet of Lana is a puzzle platformer that features no combat but rather, you must work with your little alien friend Mui to move through the various areas by completing puzzles, avoiding the alien robots and figuring out where to proceed next. It’s simplicity works perfectly and that’s where this indie game shines!
The narrative of the game is beautifully presented and really draws you into the plight of our young hero and while the control mechanics is relatively straightforward, the challenge aspect comes into play with the thoughtful puzzles. For example, there are places where your character can’t reach which may require you to order for your trusty friend Mui to jump and climb, then cut a rope that allows you to climb to the next area. However other puzzles require some careful timing and best of all, the answer is always staring you in the face.
Another key element to the gameplay are the diverse gaming environments that go hand-in-hand with not just the story but also the puzzles. As you progress, the difficulty of the puzzles also increase that just adds to the experience and how dire the situation is for Lana. While the game scrolls side to side or up and down to match what is happening in the game, this helps add perspective to what needs to be achieved.
For example, it may require Mui to manipulate one of the larger alien animals on this planet with mind control to help move your Lana from point A to point B or it may require Lana to control one of the invading aliens to help your catlike creature to another area. Like their friendship, it’s all about teamwork in The Planet of Lana that is another highlight of the game. And yes, Lana can pat Mui.
Needless to say, teamwork is imperative as is timing and there is a good mix of where Lana and Mui can go that again adds to the gameplay such as “cats” not being able to swim so you may need to drain a lake or use a piece of wood to help get Mui to the other side. Or as mentioned, Lana cannot access ledges out of her reach. Overall the gameplay is quite clever and engaging with the later not being possible if not for the emotional and engaging story behind The Planet of Lana.
Graphically, the Planet of Lana looks fantastic on the Xbox Series X that definitely draws a Studio Ghibli atmosphere with its unique hand painted inspired artwork. Additionally, the game features a plethora of different environments from lush forests to sunny beaches, forgotten cities to deserts and aliens that would not look out of place from the classic film, War of the Worlds. I also love the various cinematics used in the game that bring forth a variety of emotions to help progress the story.
Although the gaming world is a 2D, developers Wishfully successfully create a faux 3D atmosphere to it, including the camera that at times zooms in or out depending on the puzzle or narrative with characters walking behind and in front of objects. Adding to the experience is the subtle audio cues from the sounds of the weather, the strange alien language spoken by the denizens of the planet, the purrs of Mui and of course, the alien robots, it complements the gameplay perfectly. Lastly, the soundtrack perfectly matches the entire premise of The Planet of Lana with its tinge of melancholy and triumph.
I really enjoyed the narrative and gameplay behind The Planet of Lana with Wishfully successfully drawing me into this wondrous yet dangerous alien world with its characters and story. As a result, you immediately relate to the young protagonist and equally heroic alien catlike creature who works in union with you to achieve your goals. Sure, there are some elements of frustration to be found along the way, particularly when you mistime a puzzle, become electrocuted by one of the invaders or fall to your death but thankfully respawn points are well placed and the only person to blame for these mistakes is you. So if you love thinking platformers with an equally beautiful story, then look no further because The Planet of Lana not only delivers but leaves you craving for more.