First revealed during the Game Awards 2018, Journey to the Savage Planet is an upcoming science-fiction game being developed by Typhoon Studios and published by 505 Games. At E3 2019, I had the chance to play about an hour of the game from near the beginning.

Journey to the Savage Planet is a first-person exploration game, with some combat, some crafting, a fair bit of wacky hijinks and some very interesting story. You’re a pioneer for Kindred Aerospace, which has been voted the fourth-best space-faring company. After a quick overview of what to expect from Alex Hutchinson, a co-founder of Typhoon Studios and creative director on the game, I and other members of the media were set loose.

As I pulled up the headset and controller to begin playing, I inquired of Alex “So, we’re working for Kindred Aerospace. You said they were the fourth-best space exploration company, right?” He nods. “The fourth best, yes.” “How many are there?” Holding back a grin, he replied “Four.”

E3 2019 Journey to the Savage Planet Preview

Death #1

The game opened with my ship crash-landed on a hostile, foreign world. After checking the logs and being consulted by a chipper, enthusiastic AI, I hoarded as much of my ship’s goop bio-gel food as possible. I’m sure there’s technically an upper limit on how much you can hold but I was able to get around 60 cans of the stuff with no issue. If at any point you run out, you can get more from the ship.

You’re equipped with a laser pistol-like weapon that has infinite ammo (though it does need to be cooled off) which comes in handy for clearing out debris and indigenous lifeforms alike. You’ve also got a jet pack, though it’s limited to a couple of quick bursts. Both these tools, the rest of your equipment and even your health can all be upgraded by gathering enough resources or finding particular things out in the wild.

Fortunately, the resource gathering isn’t complicated: you’re looking for a handful of basic elements, including carbon and silicon.

After checking my missions, I began exploring all of the wacky and fascinating alien ecology. One of my first discoveries was that if I fed my bio-gel food to some small, little puffball-like birds, they would be drawn to it like bait. After consuming it, they could be made to expel carbon, which is one of the resources I needed to collect the most. While I was able to use my vast reserves of nutritious sludge to collect a fair bit of carbon, my first unfortunate death came when one of the little puffballs exploded. Further research was clearly needed.

Death #2

Upon respawning, I ended up back on my ship, where I was assured that the DNA sequencer I was backed up to was fairly accurate. Reassuring. Still, the only thing lost was the resources I’d gathered, so it seems the longer you’re out gathering, the more you’re putting at risk.

It’s not all gathering though – this is a narrative-driven game and I decided to check out my main objective: getting to the valley floor and checking out any signs of intelligent life (there weren’t supposed to be any, per Kindred Aerospace scans).

You have an extensive library in your database that needs to be filled out, so you are encouraged to scan everything. That spinning, burrowing lizard creature? Scan it. Plants that your artificial intelligence helper assures you can accomplish absolutely nothing? Scan it.

After making my way through some collapsing ice, I happened upon a number of bizarre creatures: a floating, squid-like mass that happily attacked and a screaming, three headed creature that, when shot, turned into two screaming, two-headed creatures. Which, when shot, turned into two screaming one-headed creatures. I scanned them all.

My next ignoble death came when I tried to reach some delicious alien fruit. Unfortunately, I got stuck in the level geometry, where a few floating squid creatures found me and slowly killed me.

Death #3

After taking a fair bit of precious time to regather everything I’d lost, I pressed onward. Something I truly loved was the sense of discovery, as feeding bio-gel to the puffball birds was just the beginning. The puffball birds, it turns out, are in turn eaten by carnivorous plants, who happily relax and let you pass after being fed. It truly feels like there is a complex, well-planned ecology here and I’m taking a sledgehammer to all of it then slurping up what’s left in the name of science.

In finding a few alien artifacts and advancing the story, I found myself platforming underground caverns filled with lava, beset by spike throwing giant bugs and more. All of these I dodged with impunity, until I was trying to get back to my ship and mistimed a jump to a rocky platform.

I was about to head out for a fourth time when I realized that an hour had passed and time was up.

Summary

This game seems very promising. Anything that can manage to marry exploration, wonder and discovery with an extremely tongue-in-cheek, humorous story is going to have a spot on my radar. I really enjoyed what I played and I can’t wait to check out the full game.

Stay tuned, because I have an interview with the co-founder of Typhoon Studios and the Creative Director on the game, Alex Hutchinson, dropping very soon.

Journey to the Savage Planet releases sometime in early 2020 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC (through the Epic Games Store).

If you’d like to read my other E3 2019 coverage, you can check out the links below: