Planet Diver
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 7

Planet Diver is fast-paced and very addictive when played in short bursts, but the lack of mission variety does mean it can become repetitive. Still, you get a lot of content for a very low price, which definitely makes it worth the investment in time and money. Just keep in mind that quick reflexes are required when braving the deep, obstacle-filled chasms through which your wingsuit diver loves to plunge.

Gameplay: Planet Diver is fast-paced, challenging, and quite addictive, although it can become repetitive.

Graphics: It takes a while to get used to the retro-style scanlines, but the overall effect is quite nice.

Sound: The music is a little unusual but very fitting

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Planet Diver

Developer: Fabraz | Publisher: Fabraz | Release Date: 2015 | Genre: Action / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam / itch.io

Hurtling down the most bottomless chasms of the most dangerous planets equipped with nothing more than a wingsuit and robotic companion is not for the faint of heart, but it is all in a day’s fun for the protagonist of Planet Diver. Apart from the inherent risk of traveling at terminal velocity and beyond while avoiding natural obstacles, there is also a small matter of the local fauna to deal with. It takes quick reflexes and a little luck, but score-chasing action fans will find Planet Diver just as alluring as it is for the fearless protagonist.

Apart from not smacking into obstacles or getting torn into pieces by your enemies, Planet Diver has a couple of goals. The campaign mode features three different planets to conquer, each with its own missions. You are given three goals per mission, but only the easiest (bronze) must be completed to move on to the next mission. These goals can be anything from killing a set amount of enemies or traveling a certain distance to pulling off dangerous maneuvers like hugging the walls while traveling at top speed. Some missions are more challenging than others, but the game does take pity on players who fail repeatedly by offering them the chance to replay the level on a much easier setting. Doing so comes at the cost of not being able to keep the “star stuff” that can be collected along the way. In addition to healing your character, star stuff also serves as the currency in the game and can be used to buy new outfits, special ability modifiers, and music, so it is worth grabbing. Access to the next planet can also be purchased with star stuff, but it is more economical to do so by completing all the bronze missions, as shop prices for the other items are pretty hefty. There is a long list of outfits to buy, and most of them are nods to other popular games like Portal, Metroid, and even Ms. Pac-Man!

As your character is basically falling down a dangerous chasm, your input is limited to moving her left or right to avoid obstacles and enemies. The game can be played using a keyboard or controller, but currently, movement is restricted to the d-pad only for the latter. While falling, you can also press a button to brake mid-air or briefly perform a speed dash. Your character is invincible while braking, so it is essential for avoiding certain obstacles or simply slowing down if she is falling too fast for your liking. Dashing, on the other hand, can be used to speed up and smash through enemies to kill them. In addition, the star stuff scattered throughout the levels has a higher multiplier the faster your character is going, so you will want to keep dashing for the big bonuses. The catch is that you have a dash meter that refills over time or by braking, so you can’t keep doing it repeatedly. Depending on your special ability modifier, your character can only take a couple of hits, but collecting star stuff and killing enemies replenishes her health.

Planet Diver features a rather interesting visual style, and the liberal use of scanlines lends it an eye-catching retro look. Each of the planets features three different biomes, for a total of nine, and you’ll also encounter a diverse range of enemies and giant bosses. Despite the speed at which the game moves, the enemies are all instantly recognizable and have their own characteristics to deal with. For example, bats and seagulls will dive down after you if you go past them without killing them, while spiders cling to the walls and fling webs at you that slow your character down. There are also natural hazards to watch out for, such as falling debris water, lava geysers, and black holes. The latter makes an appearance on the asteroid level and can invert gravity, which results in your character falling up or down! The game doesn’t feature any speech, but the cheerful music tracks fit the action well. It is a bit annoying having to pay (in-game) currency to unlock more tracks, but all of the tunes are really good.

The 75 missions of the campaign mode don’t really feature much of a story and instead consist of some humorous banter between the diver and her robotic companion, Buddy, before each dive. Many missions are simply variations of each other, which can result in some repetition when playing the game for long sessions. This means that Planet Diver is best played in short bursts to avoid tedium setting in. The game also features an arcade mode where the goal is simply to try and dive as deep as possible, collect as much star stuff as possible, and kill as many enemies as possible. You can also compete for the furthest total diving distance, total star stuff collected, and total enemies killed on the leaderboards. The endless arcade mode for each planet provides a good reason to return to the game after completing all the campaign missions or when you want a quick adrenaline fix. Since the chasms are randomly generated, it also helps keep the game from becoming too predictable. Planet Diver also features a ton of Steam achievements that further extend the game’s longevity for players who enjoy the extra challenge.

Considering its very reasonable price, Planet Diver is not a bad investment. The campaign mode alone takes a few hours to complete, and the arcade mode ups the replay value. Repetition is obviously a concern, and players without fast reactions might find it a little frustrating. Still, overall, we had a lot of fun with Planet Diver and can certainly recommend it.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • OS: OS X 10.6
  • OS: Ubuntu 12.04

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