Planet of the Eyes Review

By Mark Delaney, 28 days ago
It wasn't long ago where we discussed at length the proficiency of games in the ID@Xbox program to tell memorable and thought-provoking science fiction tales. Consider that editorial needing amendment, as another such game has hit the store in the form of Planet of the Eyes. Although the artsy platformer doesn't break the mold with its puzzle design and can be played in full in only an hour, the story found within is compelling enough to merit the brief playthrough all on its own.

planet of the eyes

Planet of the Eyes is a colorful 2D puzzle-platformer that could reasonably be compared to several other games in its genre, but to do so would only discredit Planet for what it does well on its own. The game opens beside a crashed spaceship of some sort. You, an unnamed bipedal robot, are tasked with exploring the world and determining what happened before that time. Quickly after you begin, an audio log sets the scene with exceptional voice acting and surround sound begging for headphones. Your creator has gone ahead, assumes himself dead by the time you hear his recording, but invites you to go find him or his corpse nonetheless. On a strange planet filled with exotic creatures, players must navigate the world to its conclusion and discover why you're there at all.

As mentioned, the game can be beaten in roughly an hour. If it takes any longer than that you may have been stumped by a puzzle or two, but for the most part the frequent puzzles aren't very difficult. Often times it's timing that will send you back to your last checkpoint and you can expect frequent deaths because of that emphasis. Speaking of checkpoints, they're very generous in Planet of the Eyes. With dying coming so often, it would be an especially antiquated type of letdown to be reversed back deep into the game. Thankfully, Planet usually throws you mere seconds from where you last stood. Combine that appeasing tactic with the fact that few puzzles, if any, will require hints or guides and it's no wonder the game can be played so effortlessly in a single sitting.

The puzzles are easy because the game uses mechanics similar to those in genre titles that obviously inspired Planet of the Eyes. If you frequent the genre, and probably even if you don't, you'll know right away how to deal with many of the puzzles. Pushing blocks, pulling levers, timing jumps on collapsing platforms — it's all been-there-done-that, which would be damning if taken in isolation. These are textbook tactics in the video game space, many of them having been seen in games two decades ago.

Hence the name.Hence the name.

Fortunately, Planet of the Eyes surrounds its tired puzzles with audio-visual design that pops and a story worth witnessing. In addition to that excellent voice acting from the game's sole speaking part, the soundtrack is also appropriately synthy and enjoyable. Space and synthesizers are a pairing as reliable as rainy days and a good book. The music changes tracks often in Planet of the Eyes in its 60 minutes, and consistently it was a bright spot for the game. Although the game isn't as stunning as it could have been visually, thanks to some wonky animations and uninspired enemy design, the color palette leaves an impression with its vibrancy and the often complementary pairings.

The game's greatest attribute is its story. Told only through audio logs, the sequence of events you'll uncover over an hour of playing time aren't without their effectiveness despite the main character never pushing for your sympathy. Ultimately it may make sense why the robot as a protagonist was so lacking in personality, as one reading of the somewhat ambiguous story demands this drone-like behavior. Because of its brevity, it's difficult to praise the narrative without delving into spoilers. To avoid that, I will only say that Planet of the Eyes delivers on, what is in some estimations, the purpose of science fiction: to give us a world remarkably unlike our own but with themes we still find crucially relatable. Genre fans will find themselves thinking on Planet likely for longer than it takes to play it, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

On the achievement side, anyone chasing quick and easy gamerscore should make time for Planet of the Eyes. Although nearly all of the game's 14 achievements are missable — 11 to be exact — they are also completed with such ease that anyone following the fantastic guide on TA can earn the full 1000 G in that same single sitting it takes to play the game. If for some reason you do miss any achievements, a very generous chapter select menu lets you return almost to the very moment where you may need to perform an achievement-specific task. To truly drive home the point of how easy it is, there is an achievement to dance, which you can do at any point in the game with the single push of a button. The rest of the list isn't far off from that; you usually just have to know where to look.

Summary

Planet of the Eyes makes for a brief but compelling sci-fi puzzle-platformer. Although it's bogged down quite drastically by puzzles that feel too familiar and often too easy, all other aspects of it do well to keep the game worthwhile. Sure it takes only an hour, but in that time it delivers a story well told with great voice acting, spacey music, and an assortment of colors that pop off the screen. It'll be a short stay in space with the unnamed robot hero, but it's an adventure worth experiencing.
3.5 / 5
Positives
  • Memorable story with thought-provoking real world analogs
  • Excellent voice acting
  • Atmospheric, synth-heavy music
Negatives
  • Uninspired, rehashed puzzle design
  • Sometimes too easy
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent one hour playing through all of Planet of the Eyes, evading aliens and collecting all 14 mostly missable achievements on the way. An Xbox One copy was provided by ID@Xbox for the purpose of this review.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is one of three voices on the TA Playlist podcast. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his fiancée and son. He almost never writes in the third person.