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Planet of Lana

Planet of Lana

Written by Jason Dailey on 4/16/2024 for PS5  
More On: Planet of Lana

If you’re anything like me, occasionally you need to play a game that may not blow the doors off social media. A short and sweet game that can be completed in a few sessions over a weekend. A game that doesn’t revolutionize the industry but executes on its vision at a high level. A palette cleanser, you might say. That game, folks, is Planet of Lana – a side-scrolling narrative puzzler with a big heart and lots of artistic style. Though it has been available since 2023 on PC and Xbox, it is just now making its debut on PlayStation and Nintendo Switch, and it’s been well worth the wait.

Clocking in at around six hours and $19.99, it is an excellent value proposition, and perhaps is the type of game we need to champion to bring us back from the brink of titles that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and nearly a decade to develop. Put simply, Planet of Lana is worth the 20 bucks for its sights and sounds alone. It is one of the most visually striking games I’ve ever played, boasting a gorgeous, almost painterly art style – a style that the artists at developer Wishfully should take a bow for.

Likewise, the musical score in Planet of Lana is one of the best that these ears have heard in gaming. It has a distinctly “Disney” quality to it, with big, cinematic arrangements that only an orchestra can provide. I almost never look up a game’s composer, but for this one I had to. That composer is Takeshi Furukawa, who is most known as the composer for The Last Guardian in the gaming realm, but most recently Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender television series. Furukawa-san brought the heat with Planet of Lana’s original music, so much so that I would probably listen to him compose advertising jingles at this point.

Once you can get past how gorgeous it looks and sounds, you’ll find that Planet of Lana plays like most other side-scrolling puzzlers. It doesn’t do anything new or noteworthy, but it most certainly doesn’t do anything to bring the experience down either. You play as Lana, a teenager (I believe) whose world is turned upside down when otherworldly invaders show up on her planet. A peaceful day becomes a nightmare when her friend is abducted by these aliens, and what begins as a frantic race to survive the initial attack eventually becomes a search and rescue mission. Lana treks across the planet to find and save her friend, no matter the cost. On her journey, Lana must avoid the invaders by using hiding areas, or timing her movements to take advantage of their blind spots. The gameplay has clear Limbo and Inside inspirations, especially in terms of its cat-and-mouse mechanics. Getting spotted by an enemy means you’ll have to run for your life, while getting caught leads to instant death and a reload of the last checkpoint.

Again, its gameplay mechanics are nothing you haven’t seen before, all the way down to its environmental puzzles. The puzzles grow slightly in complexity as you progress through the game, but if you’re paying attention, you shouldn’t have any problem solving them. Or you can be like me and need to look up a YouTube video within the first hour because you weren’t attentive enough to your surroundings. Solving puzzles will see you doing things like moving crates to create jump points, powering electric barricades on or off, taking control of enemy drones to manipulate objects, and so on. You’ll also gain the company of an adorable, feline-esque companion to help you solve puzzles – and yes, you can pet the cat.

Backing up to the sheer beauty of Planet of Lana, it should be noted that the entire experience contains no spoken dialogue, except for names. Though, if the protagonist’s name was not included in the game’s title, it would be complete guesswork as to how to spell it. The point is that this is the type of game that does not need any spoken dialogue. In fact, I think it would detract from the experience significantly. Characters speak in a fake video game gibberish language, but with the nuance necessary to convey a wide range of emotions. Despite the Sims-speak, if you will, I could easily pick up on situational and emotional cues – a whisper conveying the need to sneak past something, or a jubilant, heartfelt greeting between characters. To me, it’s almost more impressive when actors can be emotive in that way, as opposed to the directly spoken word. Which is to say that Planet of Lana pulls off a beautiful, unspoken variety of storytelling.

Like Planet of Lana, I am going to keep my review short and sweet. It is a stunning game that should be seen and heard without hesitation, and it serves as a reminder that video games truly are works of art. The gameplay and puzzle mechanics are just so-so, but truthfully, all it needed to do in this case was not get in the way. The level of artistry on display in Planet of Lana, both visual and audial, is befitting of a Pixar film, and well worth the price of admission.

Planet of Lana is a joy to behold, having been crafted with aplomb by a team of artistic and musical virtuosos. The gameplay itself is nothing you haven’t seen from other side-scrolling puzzlers, but it gives a wide berth to the stunning art and musical score that reach Disney levels of quality.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Jason has been writing for Gaming Nexus since 2022. Some of his favorite genres of games are strategy, management, city-builders, sports, RPGs, shooters, and simulators. His favorite game of all-time is Red Dead Redemption 2, logging nearly 1,000 hours in Rockstar's Wild West epic. Jason's first video game system was the NES, but the original PlayStation is his first true video game love affair. Once upon a time, he was the co-host of a PlayStation news podcast, as well as a basketball podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @TheDualSensePod, or check out my YouTube channel.

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