We’ve seen a fair few games release over the last year or so that take inspiration from PlayDead’s fantastic platformer LIMBO in one form or another, such as Toby: The Secret Mine and Feist, none of which seem to live up to the same level of quality as their comparison material. Planet of the Eyes is yet another puzzle platformer that tries to use the same concept but fails to succeed, or even stand out for that matter. Planet of the Eyes isn’t a bad game by any means, hell, it won “Best Indie Game” at the Canadian Video Game Awards, but that’s not to say that it’s a particularly great game.
After waking up following a crash landing on a planet known as the titular Planet of the Eyes, you’ll begin your (roughly) two hour journey across the environment within. You take on the roll of a small robot that seemingly only has the capability to walk and jump. Much like LIMBO you’ll be avoiding hazards and deadly creatures along the way, but seeing as you’re defenceless, expect to die quite frequently. That however is an essential aspect of play, being that through death you’ll often learn from your mistakes. The aim of Planet of the Eyes is to find out why your ship has crashed, with the game regularly throwing audio takes at you to dish up more backbone for the story.
The plot isn’t as well realised as it could have been and I cant say I paid that much attention to the little that I was given to chew on, simply because it’s just not that interesting. The great thing about Sci-Fi is that you can take a story or a concept and literally build on it to no extent, which is a notion that seems to be absent in this game. I mean, a robot that’s stranded on an alien planet, picking up audio files that never really do much to push the current situation forward? It’s bland and pointless, so much so that I regularly thought to myself, “What the heck is the point in all of this? What exactly am I caught up in?”. These are questions that never get a solid conclusion, which is a shame because Planet of the Eyes is a great looking game.
The environments within are well detailed and the developers have certainly done a good job at making everything stand out. Colourful backdrops play well with the darker foregrounds and enemies come in varying shapes and sizes, all of which effortlessly grab your attention as you move through the adventure. On the face of it all it does look like a standard experience, but nevertheless I found myself pleasantly surprised by the diverse surroundings as I got deeper in. In contrast to LIMBO there’s much more use of colour here, which in itself helps Planet of the Eyes feel unique to some small degree.
Gameplay typically consists of moving in one direction whilst puzzle solving at a pace that’s clearly aimed at slowing down progress in an attempt to flesh out the two hour campaign. The puzzles do vary in difficulty but they never really challenge you to an extent that you feel overwhelmed and lost. In fact they’re actually simplistic, and when you take into account that I’m hardly the brightest bulb in the pack, that may leave much to be desired for those that enjoy a good brain teaser. The real trick is navigating around the enemies within which ranges from huge fish, electrical eels, deadly plants, metal crunching beetles, and more. These foes do come with their own attack styles and traits, so it’s at least interesting to overcome these encounters when they make themselves known.
Despite the fact that Planet of the Eyes is linear in regards to following the path of the plot, there’s a few secrets thrown into the mix to steer you off the beaten path. Our voiceless robot may indeed spend most of his time walking and jumping, but it can also swim in water and swing from vines, which are tools that you’ll need to become acquainted with if you want to overcome the environmental hazards. Mercifully there’s a decent checkpoint system to lean on, so even when you do bite the proverbial dust, you’ll find that you’ll respawn not too far from where you took your last dirt nap. Despite the inclusion of secret areas, there’s nowhere near enough content to justify stating that Planet of the Eyes has any replay value whatsoever, because it sadly does not.
Planet of the Eyes isn’t a bad game, but it fails to deliver and build upon basic structures that make up a solid platformer. The story merely breadcrumbs in such a way that it may as well not be present, it just lingers from moment to moment without dishing up a notable conclusion. On the flip-side Planet of the Eyes looks incredible and offers up a nice selection of beautiful environments for you to traverse, with unique diverse enemies and secret areas sprinkled in to drag you off the beaten path. The length of play sits at roughly two hours, which is well set because even then I was beginning to feel bored towards the end. If you’re a die-hard fan of puzzle platformers, you may get more from this than I could, but on almost all fronts it lacks any real depth. The puzzles leave much to be desired and the platforming is fairly basic, make of that what you will.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.