Planet of the Eyes is described as ‘Limbo in a colourful world’ and that covers this narrative led platformer very well. It delivers an intriguing tale punctuated by trial and error moments, with a simple but effective aesthetic accompanying its short run time. And while, at times, it unabashedly clones elements from Limbo, by the end it does just enough to differentiate itself and make the experience interesting and enjoyable on its own merits.
You are a robot, having survived a crash landing on a peculiar alien planet and having discovered an audio message from your creator that compels you to explore. Further audio messages are obtained throughout your adventure and fill in more of the backstory, hint at dangers to come and help build your relationship to the mute machine you control. It’s a well-told story that really comes into its own by the end.
Platforming is the order of the day, with some very light puzzles moments, and much like Limbo, death is a frequent visitor as you wander into danger unknowingly, then take that lesson with you the next time you try that and similar sections. It can feel a bit cheap to have the ground suddenly become unstable, or a boulder come careening towards you from off screen, or an alien organism grab hold and eat you, but checkpoints are abundant and the game doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to reviving you. It’s smooth and fast throughout and the deaths are less frustrating due to it.
While Planet of the Eyes is described as ‘colourful’ it’s more subtle than that suggests. The immediate area around you is subdued with different gradients of blue to indicate darkness, meanwhile the background takes on all manner of brighter colours but to an almost voxel aesthetic of alien geography. It’s different and alien enough to sell you on this being a strange planet yet elegantly simplistic. Interiors get a little more complicated, fitting the growingly complex narrative that’s unravelling around you, but the 2D assets never really convince you of any depth.
Unfortunately, Planet of the Eyes only keeps you entertained for a mere hour or two, depending on general ham-handedness. Meanwhile, many of the environment and enemy encounters feel directly pulled from Limbo rather than unique to this title. There are a few instances of originality in the latter half of the game, and the final section is superb, throwing some more engaging puzzles at you and asking you to perform more complex and rewarding platforming feats.
Indeed, Planet of the Eyes is an enjoyable little adventure that ultimately feels too familiar in the first instance, and by the time it shows you something new and interesting it’s over. If you’re in the mood for some trial and error platforming with an intriguing story then Planet of the Eyes delivers a bite-size taste that might satiate you for now.
Thanks to Xbox and Cococucumber Games for supporting TiX