A fun and challenging free-to-play rougelike, that is actually free to play. No hidden cash hurdles. No artificial difficulty or invasive ads to buy micro-transactions. And absolutely no enforced time limit. Shattered Planet can be played in its entirety for free.
Death is an expectation in any roguelike. Shattered Planet makes the platform works to its favor, and offers the appropriate level of challenge, avoiding the slog many free-to-play games try and get away with. I’ve found a good roguelike ensures one’s own greed is their greatest pitfall. It means what the game provides is enticing enough, and that the difficulty comes from sticking your neck out too far.
The Blight, a disease seemingly immune to all modern medicine spreads throughout the stars, and the only hope resides on the long abandoned surface of ancient Earth. Take control of your clone and descend down onto dangerous world to seek out a cure to the virulent disease that threatens to consume the stars.
Platforms: iOS (reviewed), Android, PC & Mac
Developer: Kitfox Games
Publisher: Execution Labs
Released: iOS March 27th, Android April 10, PC summer
It took an instant to recall where she was, and for what reason she was dying upon this patch of alien soil. Beasts of all shapes, colors, and sizes hounded her every step. If she did not find a teleporter soon… well it’s best not to think about such things. Exhaustion blurred her vision, the paint of lactic burning miring her body in its sluggish embrace, pulling her back into the earth. This world wanted her for its own.
From the shadows, a pink blur struck out, inflicting the killing blow. With her last breath she cursed the puny crablet that took her life. In her final moments, as the light faded from her eyes, the lone figure’s thoughts rested on her successor. She prayed the next clone did not follow in her footsteps too closely, lest they fall to a similar fate.
I get too attached to my clones, so I make up tragic back stories to excuse their deaths rather than blame myself.
Expect to die in Shattered Planet, and know it is you who leads these clones to their demise, pushing them one step too many past their uppermost limits. In all seriousness, rogue-likes are great for creating your own narrative as you attempt to progress through the game. Not every fallen clone needs a tomb in dedication to their memory, but creating a sense of attachment tends to make one more cautious. If anything it makes the little victories more rewarding, and your failures all the more tragic.
Shattered Planet is a crisp, vibrant, and wonderfully charming game that strikes a fine balance between challenge and exploration. The visuals are colorful and easy on the eyes, while delivering all the necessary information to keep your clone alive in a direct and utilitarian fashion. Additional information on a particular item or enemy can be accessed through a personal compendium breaking down all ins and out of a particular alien or upgrade. With each entry comes a piece of charming text that adds life to the world.
True to its roots, Shattered Planet makes use of randomly generated environments, so that no two places play exactly the same. This makes exploration a key aspect to any journey, and keeps the challenge a constant. Every endeavor onto a planet bellow begins as a clean slate. Any items on your person at the time of death are lost, but there are methods left to you for retrieving favorites. While exploring, beyond the immediate goal of survival, it’s pertinent to collect as much scrap metal, which are used to level up stats, and crystals, which are for purchasing gear. All upgrades to a character’s stats (strength, wit, and health) carry over between each play through, so even in death progress is made.
A few harsh deaths occur from time to time. I once drank a mysterious liquid and saw the last of my life extinguished as my clone was consumed by fire. But in large, the deaths are fair.
There’s no need to go it alone. Companions can be acquired to aid in your clones mission, and so long as they don’t die, they carry over even if your clone parishes. Companions come in all shapes and sizes. Some are enemies you’ve befriended, while others are armor clad murder bots built from uncovered blueprints.
“Shattered Planet is a crisp, vibrant, and wonderfully charming game that strikes a fine balance between challenge and exploration.”
From time to time you may come across a random event, maybe an abandoned sleeping bag, or a mysterious hole. Such discoveries can provide desperately needed aid, but come with a risk, and success is dependent on how high your clone’s wit. Succeed and you might earn yourself a useful item, fail, and uncover something better left undisturbed, such as a crablet hiding at the bottom of a sleeping bag, that at a glance had looked so much more inviting before. Shattered Planet has cultivated in me a deep distrust of foreign sleeping bags of any kind.
Micro-transactions are available for purchase, in the form of aesthetic alternative character models, or in a bundle of crystals used in game to purchase items. Free-to-play and micro-transactions have become dirty words to some, but Shattered Planet never compromises fun for profit.
Shattered Planet uses a fast paced turn-based combat system. Enemies in the environment move one space for every one you do. Movement is simple, just tap on the block, and your clone moves accordingly. Combat works similarly, in attacks are initiated by tapping an enemy. It’s all very fast paced, a single enemy taking up no more than a handful of seconds.
Crashes are Shattered Planets one serious flaw. While not common, the interruption is annoying, and the stage is reset once the game is restarted. No progress is lost in terms of items or gear found, but in a roguelike it breaks the experience. Developer Kitfox Games has promised to remedy the problem, so expect the problem to be non-issue shortly.
Score: 8/10 – Review Scale
I enjoyed Shattered Planet. It pressed the same buttons FTL and The Binding of Isaac do, while providing something different as well. Shattered Planet is intuitive, encourages experimentation, quick to pick up without skimping on depth. I only wished it didn’t suffer from routine crashes. No serious amount of time has ever been lost, but it’s hard not to get frustrated at having a good run cut.
But the game is free. There’s no excuse not to play Shattered Planet. The feed back loop of exploration, discovery, and conflict, is tight, pulling me back time and again. Shattered Planet is free-to-play done right. Play it now.