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Lifeless Planet

While seeking life on a distant planet, an astronaut discovers an abandoned Russian town. He suspects his mission is a hoax until a mysterious young woman saves him from a strange and deadly phenomenon... Lifeless Planet is a third-person action-adventure that features an old-school sci-fi story and spectacular environments in the spirit of classic action-adventures. After a hard landing on the planet, the astronaut discovers the planet that was reported to be rich with life is instead a barren wasteland. When he goes searching for his crew, he makes a more startling discovery: evidence that humans have already been to this planet years ago! When he comes upon a deserted Soviet-era Russian town, he struggles to make sense of his mission. Did his light-speed travel to the planet send him back in time? Or is this all some strange Cold War hoax?
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

I've heard a lot about Lifeless Planet before deciding to give it a try, but initially I didn't know what to expect. Not so surprisingly though the user defined tags (atmospheric, sci-fi, puzzle platformer, exploration) displayed on the store page perfectly describe the game. It takes us on a largely uneventful, but still exciting solitary (for the most part), narrative-driven journey, which we'll be tempted to play through in one sitting.
After a rather unfortunate landing on a seemingly deserted planet a nameless astronaut sets out to explore the surroundings and soon finds a deserted Soviet colony (along with one of his wounded crewmates who just vanishes into the ground). Amongst several other mysterious discoveries, he makes contact with a woman, who doesn't fully seem to be human and who apparently wants to show him something... something that may shed light on what has happened to this desolate planet.
steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2586386929
While all the exploration and the focus on narrative may make the game look as if it was purely just a walking simulator (despite the unusual third-person point of view with scalable view distance), there are also some light platforming elements involved. These include jumping (with or without jetpack), some rock/barrel rolling and the use of a special robotic arm to operate alien artifacts. Besides falling, there are several other dangers lurking ahead of us, like the mysterious whirlwind, environmental hazards and of course the menacing looking twitching roots/tentacles...
The jetpack will play the most important role gameplay-wise which will allow us to do 'double jumps' (being able to jump for a second time in mid-air) making us capable of reaching areas that would simply be inaccessible otherwise. From time to time we run into jet pack fuel tanks: with these it is possible to perform up to 8 consecutive 'jumps' and to reach impossibly distant looking platforms and ledges. Fuel reserves don't run out after excessive use, but upon reaching certain parts of the game (where we are forced to jump over chasms using the 'simple' double jumps only).
Movement keys don't work exactly as expected, since pressing directional buttons also make a step forward, which can lead to some unnecessary falls.
This same scripted method is responsible for our oxygen supplies: no matter how much time we spend on exploration, we'll never run out of air... except at some key points, always with an oxygen refilling pod nearby (which were probably dropped by us before the crash landing). Fortunately our headlamp has a seemingly unlimited power source, so we don't have to worry about it.
The other accessory we'll have to rely upon is the expandable robotic arm, with which we can place the strange green spheres inside the alien machineries (to get them working) and push the buttons of the control panels on the gigantic gates. Its use is very straightforward and shouldn't cause any trouble. We don't really encounter any puzzles, except for maybe one part, towards the end, where we have to push circular stone shapes into correct position to activate a portal.
Many people criticised the length and the seemingly uneventful, pointless walking around, but these are things that are mostly optional. It takes about 4-5 hours to get to the end and while this may seem short (it certainly is for its price tag), there's a lot to explore, thus the game time can easily expand to 8-10 hours. Although for the most part the path ahead of us is discernible, there are areas, where it isn't obvious where to go. This is due to the fact that while the game is linear, there are also huge, open areas with amazing vistas.
steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2544411646
Partially because of this, I personally didn't find the exploration tedious, since I like searching for secrets and other hidden collectibles. In this case we can find audio logs, which slowly unveil what happened to the Soviet colony, that previously discovered this planet and mineral samples (the data is stored in our holo-tab, which acts as a diary and a translator). But it's also not unusual just to stop and simply admire the wonderful scenery, which - as it turns out - isn't as lifeless as the title suggests: the locations we visit are fairly diverse, besides the barren landscape we traverse initially we can discover amazing looking ice-covered and volcanic terrains, a dead forest even.
steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2586394053
Although we'll be left with some questions once the credits start rolling, none of them are vital, just related to minor details - the ending leaves place for several interpretations, but it does so in a preferable manner. I especially liked the occasionally appearing, previously recorded interview excerpts from which we can learn much about our astronaut (it was a one-way journey which took around 15 years for example and there's also time dilation involved between the planets), or I could mention the loading screens where notes are displayed along with thoughts related to his wife, such as "the kindness of her voice".
The game also transmits a subtle message as a conclusion: we shouldn't venture out to explore the unknown at all costs, but stay here instead and preserve the planet we live on.
The desolate and lonely feel is perfectly backed by the vast, deserted locations, which - despite the somewhat apparently simple graphics - look great. The Unity engine does a good job, the visuals are beautiful where it really matters. The lens flare effect is used abundantly and we get a nice little circular blur effect, as if we were seeing everything through an astronaut helmet. At some points, like the volcanic landscape, the game can get really dark, so turning up gamma is recommended. There were also some slowdowns in some of these dark areas.
While the sound effects can be called average, the soundtrack which fits the general atmosphere is pretty good, but it only appears at certain meaningful points of the game. Most of the voice recordings are in Russian, but they are translated through subtitles, however we can't understand what Aleita, the mysterious woman says to us for some unknown reason.
Lifeless Planet tells a subtle little story about a (not so) solitary journey on an unknown planet with memorable locations and thoughts, which emerge after the playthrough. The main point here isn't a groundbreaking story (I was expecting a Planet of the Apes type of ending but it wasn't the case), but the exploration and the path leading to the ending itself. It's also a proof that a game without combat can be exciting. I recommend it to everyone who likes to explore and enjoys discovering small nuances or walking simulators with some philosophical thoughts.
PROS
+ interesting and memorable narrative
+ great atmosphere
+ amazing looking locations
+ plenty of things to discover
+ leaves some unanswered questions, but it's done in a good way
CONS
- fairly high base price
- turning around can cause missteps
RATING
8/10

Review from Steam

Light platforming, light puzzle solving, heavy story and a lot of walking. But it's charming and well-made.

Review from Steam

Objective is simple, took me about 4 1/2 - 5 hours to complete the game. Would recommend if you are just looking to play a simple relaxed game.

Review from Steam

"If you lose someone you love, even 20 light years probably isn't enough distance to make you stop missing them."
It's a fantastic game of which the meaning is similar to Dear Esther and Life of Pi.
Please pay attention to the last conversation between the astronaut and the reporter, especially the tense and the indication of "this planet". So, who is Aelita? It is this conversation that makes the game profound. If you don't understand the indication of the last conversation, it's just a good game , rather than a fantastic game, for you.
After you have got it that what the lifeless planet and the green Aelita indicate, you will realize that all you have experienced is just a sweet dream.

Review from Steam

Lifeless Planet is a puzzle platformer with an interesting world and decent story. You can notice that the indie game is of high quality with good voice acting and fitting well-made soundtrack. The graphics holds up still today for what it is.
The platforming feels good, sure sometimes the controls might feel a bit off but that's more an exception than a rule. The puzzles are on a good and balanced difficulty, nothing is too hard to find but it's not really simple either. Same goes for navigating around the various levels, while you can get lost it's not too hard to get back on track again.
The story is interesting, with an alternative history take that in reality never changed the timeline in particular as it was a failure. But exploring the lifeless planet you land on, finding the various logs and trying to find a way to leave is truly an experience in this game. The flow is good, as you explore you ask the same questions as the main character - "What is this and what happened here?"
I really recommend this game and I'm so excited for the upcoming game from the devs, Lifeless Moon. While it might not be a direct sequel, I'm pretty sure it will be as good if not better!

Review from Steam

A refreshing and well plotted sci-fi mystery adventure. I highly recommend it to young and old, avid gamer or newcomer.

Review from Steam

This game is the creation of just one developer, and as such it’s a success. The graphics look like they are from the late 1990s, but gameplay feels smooth and solid. It’s a neat little indie title, and what really ties it all together is the music and sound design. Some standard Unity engine problems here and there, but nothing too distracting. A good experience.