What did we love about Dark Souls? Its difficulty, certainly – the title is a throwback to games from our childhood that mercilessly flayed us in the first few seconds of gameplay. Since video games were originally arcade-based and meant to greedily gobble down our cold, hard coins, the difficulty level makes sense. We became accustomed to the literal ass-kicking received from titles like Donkey Kong, Ninja Gaiden…even Pac-Man ate up our every last quarter. As games moved from an arcade-based platform into the home, the gaming experience changed, and games soon evolved from quick-burst play to mechanics that kept gamers on the couch for longer. Culminating with games like Minecraft or Bethesda titles, which some gamers pour literal years into playing or modding, the gamers of today play completely different games than their past counterparts.
This return to yesteryear is what many gamers love about Dark Souls – the knock-you-on-your-ass, impossible-not-to-die gameplay has caused many a controller to be thrown in a fiery rage caused by the two words more frustrating than “Game Over” – “YOU DIED”. Which, while it’s essentially the same thing, it seems that the latter phrase floats across the screen way more often than the former phrase has in recent years. It’s challenging. It’s infuriating. And it’s a helluva lotta fun.
Enter Immortal Planet.
Dubbed “a love letter to Dark Souls”, the game can be found on sale for $13.49 on Steam. Developed and published by teedoubleuGAMES, the title is the second one to be released by the Polish team – the first being RONIN, a turn-based action platformer. A few days after release has netted the title a handful of positive reviews, and it’s already shaping up to be another solid gem on the platform.
The game starts with the ability to choose your character’s weapon and ability – each one having three options. Weapon options will grant you varying levels of attack/speed, while abilities include being able to heal stamina or health while attacking. In so many of these games, I play a tank character and just Leeroy Jenkins my way through each level, so I went with the hardest hitting weapon and the healing with attacking ability.
Like a typical tank, I started this game from a hack ‘n slash mindset and began attacking everything in sight without thought. This worked for me at first, but over time I started to realize that I was losing health faster than I was regaining it. I started to utilize the blocking mechanic, but even then my life force was slowly being drained away. In order to play this game, I had to adjust my play-style and use strategies that I otherwise would never have used – in other words, I was re-learning how to play from the ground up. From this standpoint, Immortal Planet was a completely unique experience for me.
But there was more than just gameplay – art style is BE-A-U-TI-FUL! It’s what drew me in from the very start. The animation is also very smooth, with no jerky motions or clipping. The character design is intriguing and stands apart from other games with its creativity. The music is superb – enough to convey emotions without becoming distracting. Aesthetics overall get a solid A+!
If there’s one thing that I felt was a bit off, it was perhaps the speed of the game. While moving between targets was fine, the actual fighting was quite…slow. I had to wait for attacks to charge, and because the animation didn’t animate every motion associated with swinging a sword or blocking a blow, I didn’t quite see why there was a hold up with some of the actions. The characters would freeze momentarily before attacking each other; it didn’t seem to be for a purpose, but that split second of waiting made it seem much, much slower than the game needed to be. This could be an aesthetic choice that I didn’t understand, but it was something that bugged me nonetheless.
Games will never stop evolving. They will always push the envelope, going forward and moving ever faster into the future. Genres rise and fall in popularity; some are even created after one game completely changes the industry. Immortal Planet aims to recapture what we love about Dark Souls, which itself was a tribute to games gone by. And while the two look nothing alike, the similarities are certainly there – both are frustrating, both require a deeper strategy, and both provide the challenges that many of us miss from our childhood. Together, the two keep the flame alive for those harder-than-hell games, always enticing us with their torturous ways.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: teedoubleuGAMES; Developer: teedoubleuGAMES; Players: 1; Released: July 27, 2017; MSRP: $13.49
Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of Immortal Planet given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.