At PAX West 2019 we got the chance to experience Journey to the Savage Planet’s co-op mode and we loved it. As a couple, we’re constantly on the lookout for co-op games that benefit from playing with another player instead of just feeling like the mode is tacked on. For us, that’s what moved 505 Games and Typhoon Studios’ title up to the top of our must-buy list for 2020. Now, don’t worry, you can check out a single-player review of the game here, but for those looking to understand how much Journey to the Savage Planet has to offer in terms of co-op, this is the review for you.
Published by 505 Games and developed by Typhoon Studios, Journey to the Savage Planet is a first-person adventure that throws you into the position of an explorer under the employ of the fourth-best interstellar exploration company in the world, Kindred Aerospace. Dropped onto an uncharted planet dubbed AR-Y 26 with no plan and absolutely no support from your bosses, it’s up to you to catalog the planet and determine if it’s fit for human expansion. While it has both RPG and shooter elements, the goal of the game is exploration. To do so, you’re tasked with solving puzzles, walking off the beaten path, and of course, doing it with a friend.
The co-op mode of the game adds a great layer that increases the ease in which you can navigate the world and complete quests. But it also adds the challenge of platforming together instead of alone. Now, the co-op is online only and is drop-in-drop-out. The latter of which means that all progress is saved in the host’s game and all progress is lost for player two. That said, you do keep all of the achievements you earn from your playthrough.
We got the chance to put time into the co-op mode of Journey to the Savage Planet and we have some thoughts. Check them out below.
What elements of the game were better with co-op?
Matt: The overall experience. As the game is supposed to be fun, quirky, and with the dialog—which is great by the way—a comedy, so playing with a friend just makes the experience so much better. This game is designed for fun exploration with some mild combat and for, the most part, isn’t designed to be difficult so it allows for the players to have fun messing around with each other. My favorite thing to do was when my partner wasn’t looking throw bait on her head and watch as she got attacked by the puffbirds. There were plenty of times we would just be screwing around and end up killing each other or doing something wrong by mistake that just ended up being funny.
Kate: The combat was so much more fun with a partner than when I was just in a field on my own. The way the game works, boss battles are intricate, but at the same time, the fact you can interact with the world around you to mess with your partner once it was over was great. My favorite thing was to shoot the exploding pods and start a chain reaction that would both startle my partner and effectively clear the entire area, even if he had to respawn in the process.
Platforming with a partner, yay or nay?
Matt: I was player one and had the saved game in my profile so I was good with it and had no issues. Now of course if you or your partner do struggle there could be some wait time waiting on them to catch up. It was quite enjoyable and all the platforms seemed reasonable for two players and so long as you gave it time and weren’t fighting over each other to get there first, then it wasn’t an issue. Yay.
Kate: The platforming aspect is great with a partner since you have to utilize different combinations of tools and actions to make it through the different areas. When you do it with a partner, you have the ease of watching someone else succeed so you can replicate it or you watch your partner fail so you know what to avoid. Additionally, traversing areas that require the use of pods and a grappling hook is much easier with a partner since you essentially have double the pods to use.
But, the one drawback is really a small quirk. When platforming together if the invited player platforms and hits the host player, the host player doesn’t budge. That said, if the host player does the same action it will cause the invited player to be moved out of the way. It’s small and easy enough to get around but it did result in the majority of my platforming deaths before we figured it out.
What about the game’s exploration makes it good for co-op?
Matt: The fact that the game focuses on exploration and not combat to me makes it good for co-op. I am a big fan of exploration games that don’t rely on combat as the focus so being able to do this with a partner just makes the game even more enjoyable. You don’t have to worry about your partner being in severe danger or trouble at all times. There are obviously creatures that will attack you in the wild, but most of them are neutral unless provoked. This just really allows players to run around and explore the beautiful world and just not have to focus on “Are you okay?”.
Kate: The expansive Kindex is a great mechanic for players to learn more and interact with the planet in a deeper way. By going into scanning mode, you can scan and catalog flora and fauna as you survey the planet. This is a great part of the game’s push for exploration but for some creatures that move quickly or a plant that looks too similar to the one you just scanned, having a second pair of eyes to scan the world helps my completionist mindset when it comes to cataloging in games.
Any co-op features that could be improved on?
Matt: I like drop-in-drop-out co-op, but I will just never become a full fan of it as only one person gets to fully experience the story. If you are player two, all the stuff you’ve collected and done are lost once you drop out of the game. They did a nice thing by allowing player two to convert their game into a solo game so they keep the story progress, but keeping none of the side objectives and collectibles can be a bummer.
I did like the resource management aspect of the game that both players shared resources in upgrading their characters, that is until l learned that basically you share upgrades as well. The feeling that player two is nothing more than a servant clone to player one isn’t the best for all the player twos out there especially people who like achievements, are completionists, or just like the feel of having their own character. Overall it isn’t that huge of a deal and it is really more part of the genre of drop-in-drop-out co-op than against Journey to the Savage Planet.
Kate: I’m not a fan of the drop-in-drop-out co-op for a lot of the same reasons that Matt isn’t, namely that it restricts you to only playing when the host is on if you’re not leading the game. While this isn’t an issue for some people and us most of the time since we play games together, this does hinder anyone who has progressed past the first biome to play on their own. Specifically, I’m player two and all of my in-game progress is tied to Matt’s game. Because of that and the fact that’ we’re so close to completing the game, I’m not going to play alone just so that I can pick up where I left off. That said, this is really a personal preference and something that isn’t really a game-breaker, but it does hinder replay value at least before you complete the game in co-op mode as player two.
Final Thought and Rating
Matt: Journey to the Savage Planet is really lots of fun; it is beautiful, the vibrant colors work great, and while the game may seem simple there is plenty of content and exploration to be done. Rating: 9/10 Kicked Puff Birds
Kate: Journey to the Savage Planet is loads of fun by yourself, but you really get an understanding of the game and how the game uses humor even in its mechanics when playing with a friend. It’s a game meant to be played with someone else and it’s a great choice for anyone looking for a multiplayer co-op game.
Journey to the Savage Planet is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows via the Epic Games Store now.