“Addictive” is a word that is bandied around a lot these days, especially when it comes to games, but I can say without a trace of hyperbole that Shattered Planet is one addictive title. It has been many, many hours since I have been introduced to its charming world and I still look forward to every chance I get to return to it. My poor character has succumbed to the dangers of the procedurally generated world more times than I can remember, but each time I returned more determined and better prepared than the last.
The story of Shattered Planet is actually very simple. You take control of a poor clone that has been sent to the shattered remains of planet Earth with the mission to try and find a cure for a disease called the Blight. The job requires you to document all the alien species and technologies that you can find in the hopes of tracking down a cure. Get killed and you lose all your items, but the scrap metal and crystals you discover are yours to keep. Scrap metal is used to train the strength, wits or health of your character, while crystals allow you to invent one of the more than 200 different items back aboard your ship.
While I spent most of my time with the endless “Explorer” mode, Shattered Planet also features a random “Daily Challenge” and three scenarios. The scenarios range from “Hard” to “Very Hard” and “Crazy Hard” so you might want to spend some time in Explorer mode first to beef up your character. Speaking of characters, you have five different ones to choose from, including an assassin, robot and exile. You even have a few different faces to choose from to customize your character and make them your own. The visuals are 2D instead of 3D, but feature some very creative creature designs. Your clone can only be equipped with a helmet and a weapon, but all of these are shown on the character and there are a vast range of them available. A few of the items are also “heavily inspired” by items from popular culture, so expect to see helmets from Star Wars, Robocop, Bomberman, Halo and many more on display.
Your primary weapon is melee based, but you will also discover or craft guns while playing. These generally have long reloading times, so you can only use them once every few turns, but they tend to pack a punch. To help even out the odds even more you can also take along a companion, but these must generally first be “tamed” on the planet after which you can use crystals to clone them back at your ship. The ship serves as your base between excursions to the planet and is where you can change your character, spend your scrap metal, take items from storage or synthesize equipment.
You can’t choose what equipment to synthesize and instead select the amount of crystals that you are willing to spend (5, 20 or 50) and then receive a random item. The more crystals you spend the better the item, but this resource is not as plentiful as scrap metal and must be managed carefully.
When you do venture down to the planet you’ll find that the action is viewed from an isometric perspective and the world is divided into tiles. Your movement is turn based, so while you are not moving time is frozen giving you the chance to plan your next action. Unexplored areas are covered in darkness and you’ll see red eyes if there are creatures present or a sparkle to indicate items. Moving closer will reveal what you are up against, but despite the turn based nature of the game you don’t have the time to dally too long on each level. Each turn the corrupting Blight starts infecting tiles, starting from where you entered the level, and walking on these corrupted tiles not only causes damage, but you’ll also have to face the corrupted creatures spawned on them. The only way to escape is to find the teleporter that is hidden on each level, although you will want to find as many items, scrap metal and crystals en route. In Explorer mode, you try and get as far as possible without succumbing, while the Daily Challenge and Missions have more specific goals.
The controls couldn’t be simpler and you just have to point and click in order to maneuver your character. Click on a spot and your character moves there, if something is on the spot you click, your character will hit it or interact with it, depending on what it is. Click on your character and you skip a turn, which is useful to draw enemies towards you and getting in the first hit. You’ll find bottles with unknown fluids scattered around the world, but the only way to discover what they do is to use them. The colors are randomized each time you play, so an orange bottle that healed your character on a previous run might instead cause a fire or increase your character strength for the duration of the adventure. Not knowing what these liquids are each time you play keeps things interesting and encourages you to explore more of each level.
The feature that made the game the most fun for me was all the random events that I encountered while playing. My clone became the vassal to a mighty worm overlord on one occasion, picked up an alien brain parasite on another and even responded to the suggestive gestures made by a mutant. All these encounters not only influence your stats in some way, but also bestow some new title on your character. Even after almost twenty hours of playing I have only seen half of these events and I can’t wait to find more.
Shattered Planet is an incredibly fun and addictive game, made only better by its sense of humor. While it features roguelike elements, the fact that you can permanently upgrade your character and equip them before each excursion does make things a bit easier. I suppose that the game can become a bit repetitive if you are not a fan of the genre, but personally I’m still as hooked on it as I was on day one. Although there is a free mobile version of the game, it is definitely worth purchasing on PC thanks to the new features and upgrades such as the pets, different classes, daily challenge and general revamps. Shattered Planet is a great example of how you don’t need the latest 3D engine and a ton of complicated features to make a great game. The game has a lot of polish, heart and charm which makes it one of my favorite titles this year.
*Review originally published July 2014 based on version 2.0 of the game.
- OS: Windows XP or later
- Processor: 1.Ghz
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: X1950 Pro, 7900 GT. 1024 x 768 or larger resolution
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Hard Drive: 650 MB available space
- OS: OS X Lion 10.8.5
- Processor: Dual Core CPU
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Graphics: OpenGL 3.0 compliant with 512MB of video RAM. 1024 x 768 or larger resolution
- Hard Drive: 650 MB available space