Planet of Lana is the debut game release from Swedish game developers Wishfully Studios which was released in May 2023. Since release the game has been garnering all of the right kinds of attention. Seeing as it is their debut release, big things are yet to come from the game developers in future releases. I got the chance to review the game to offer up my thoughts on the game and whether it’s worth a playthrough.
Tech Trouble in Paradise
Planet of Lana is a side-scrolling platformer at heart. Its design reminds me of the retro games I used to play such as Another World, Flashback, or even Prince of Persia which paved the way for these types of games. Do you like games in this style? What games have you played and why did you love playing them? Let me know in the comments below.
Without an introduction to the game, it welcomes you to the game with the stunning backdrop of a tropical landscape. You soon take control of a child who we come to know as Lana. As you navigate Lana through a quaint seaside village with houses made out of bamboo-type supports on stilts. You make your way through the village and the shore following a friend/sister called Eelo. As you chase your friend you learn the controls of getting around obstacles which will become commonplace later in the game. When you catch up to your friend things escalate quickly. What appears to be comets fall from the sky and in a moment of surprise both you and the characters realise they are robotic aliens. One falls nearby and snatches up your friend. You gain control again and quickly race back to the village to warn the others. However, you discover the village has suffered the same fate.
Venturing into the Unknown
From hereon you travel beyond the village tracking down Eelo through barren terrain. You approach obstacles that range from high ledges to long risky jumps. As you start to gauge the distances to these which are spread throughout the lands, you can overcome them quite easily. You soon encounter spider-like robots which are patrolling on the lookout for humans to abduct. Using the long grass you evade them but then have to solve how to get past them. Like with most stealth games you have to observe the enemies’ patrol pattern before then deciding which way to evade their line of sight. These were challenging at times due to the timing needing to be exact. I had to retry a few times to fine-tune the whole encounter. This kind of section becomes a regular feature as you journey through the lands just in different scenery or placement of ledges.
Planet of Lana spices up the platforming and puzzle-solving by introducing you to a cat-like creature that you befriend. Unlike real cats, you can order the cat to jump to high out-of-reach ledges to knock down ropes or push buttons allowing you to traverse them. You get a real sense of friendship between these two characters and I really enjoyed the story these two made in the game. The developers further include additions to change the mechanics of the platforming. This could range from controlling the robots, big magnets, other giant angry creatures, and more. I found the variety in features meant I was entertained thoroughly and the game never felt repetitive. As this is a spoiler-free review, you continue on your travels in search of lost friends through many backdrops. The story was compelling and made me want to carry on so much so that I wanted to complete the game before reviewing it.
Graphics & Sound
Painstaking detail has been given to the game. This can be found in the parallax effect, giving the world a semi-3d feel, or in the complex mechanics as you venture into industrial areas run by robots. The robots themselves were awesome, mostly a jet-black mass with spindly spider-like legs complete with the motion of one too. While the graphics are vector-based and seemingly simple there’s a wealth of detail put into every scene. The character animation of Lana was cleverly done where the motion as you ran looked fluid. This was noticeable more as you ran and the head of Lana would move automatically to points of interest. This added to the immersion of the game.
The sound has just as much attention to detail given to it. The score and music for the Planet of Lana were masterfully created fitting each scene. As you run through the varying biomes of the planet the score would change emphasising the wonder and wow factor of any scene you looked at. The score would change drastically when entering an area with an enemy in it too giving spadefuls of tension. The voice acting, while simplistic gave enough character to Lana and the people she met.
Planet of Lana is a short to medium-length game coming in at around 4 – 5 hours. The game is somewhat lengthened by the developer’s choice to add in artistic wide shots. These happen as you carry on running where you see the magnitude of the land you are traversing. The giant robotic ships flying through the sky or a beautiful sunset will feature in these. Without these, the game could be a lot shorter, but I felt they were needed to show the endurance and determination of the lead character as you traveled seemingly endlessly to find their lost ones.
Overall, Planet of Lana is a side view, semi-3D platformer at its best. Give this game a little of your time and it will give you back a wealth of entertainment from its puzzles to the rich story told with very few words. The game has tons of character which shines through in its characters, picturesque landscapes, and wholesome narrative. Definitely give this game a try.
I award Planet of Lana the Thumb Culture Gold Award!
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.