Journey to the Savage Planet: Employee of the Month Edition Xbox Series S Review
by February 24, 2023 @ 1:00 pm
Reviewed on Xbox Series S
Back when Metroid Prime was originally released on GameCube in 2002, there was some misconception that the title was a first-person shooter. What it was, Nintendo clarified, was a first-person action-adventure game. Journey to the Savage Planet gives off similar FPS vibes, albeit in a more vibrant alien world, but it, too, is more action-adventure than shooter. That’s not to say there isn’t quite a bit of gun-based action. But ultimately, this game feels more like a big, beautiful playground than it does a shooting arena — and what a fun playground it is!
Journey to the Savage Planet: Employee of the Month Edition, previously a Google Stadia exclusive, is now available on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, and it brings with it some DLC, a photo mode, and performance/quality modes. Not to mention a whole lot of fun alien planet exploration!
Explore the Unknown
In Journey to the Savage Planet, you play as a space explorer on a mission for Kindred Aerospace. Your mission: Determine whether this strange world is capable of being home to humans. Of course, you’re fairly new to this whole thing, and your resources are limited, but that’s nothing a can-do attitude won’t fix.
The writing in Journey to the Savage Planet is incredibly lighthearted. You’ll receive constant progress reports, updates, and mission briefings from E.K.O., your AI companion. She’s a chatty one, and you’ll either love her or be annoyed by her — maybe even both. I enjoyed the constant banter and found E.K.O. to be absolutely delightful, but then I also like all the talking in the Borderlands games. This is similar to that in a lot of ways, though much more “‘90s Saturday morning cartoon.”
Aside from E.K.O., the game’s humor stems from in-game ads you can watch on the screen when you’re hanging out in your ship, known as the Javelin. These ads range from processed food commercials to supplements that make your joints extra-flexible. My personal favorite is the Meat Buddy ad, as it’s surreal, disgusting, and hilarious. Seriously, go watch it on YouTube right now.
You’ll also receive updates from Kindred Aerospace CEO Martin Tweed. He’s… a character for sure. These video updates are, much like E.K.O., filled with lots of dialogue, so you’ll either love ‘em or hate ‘em depending on whether the humor resonates with you or not. I enjoyed most of the dialogue. At times it did feel like overkill, but even then, the majority of it was strong and enjoyable to listen to.
Journey to the Savage Planet is a mostly laid-back affair. It’s an encouraging exploration-based adventure that constantly dangles a carrot in front of you. At first, you’ve just got some throwable items and your blaster. Throwable items can be used to distract the local wildlife, while your blaster can be used to, well, dispose of said creatures.
As you explore the alien planet, you’ll collect natural resources that can be used to improve your blaster, level up your character, and craft new upgrades. Depending on the upgrade, you might need to grind and farm a bit, but this grinding never feels overbearing. This is because the flow of play is super smooth. You’ll collect items, kill a few alien animals, and use your scanner to identify plants and other objects — it all gives off some fun Metroid Prime vibes.
The planet is large with lots to see and do, but you won’t be able to go wherever you want. You’ll have to collect resources, return to the Javelin, and craft upgrades. This will allow you to visit new areas. The way in which the game locks off certain areas based on which abilities you have is very much in line with the Metroidvania genre, and it entices you to continue exploring.
You’ll do quite a bit of platforming in Journey to the Savage Planet. Though there’s a slight learning curve to the physics and movement of your jumps, double-jumps, and grapple abilities, everything feels pretty smooth once it clicks. You might plummet to your death a few times at first, but before you know it, you’ll be hopping along giant mushrooms just like Mario.
It’s not exactly an overly difficult game, but Journey to the Savage Planet will challenge you from time to time. This is especially true regarding the game’s boss encounters. These alien monstrosities are massive, and they have specific weak points that you’ll need to exploit. These boss battles feel old school in a good way, and though they can get a little frustrating at times, they’re still really fun the majority of the time.
Employee of the Month Edition Explained
While Journey to the Savage Planet was available on multiple platforms, Employee of the Month Edition was originally exclusive to Google Stadia. Now, though, this version of the game has come to new consoles, and it delivers some solid extras.
For starters, the Hot Garbage DLC is included here, so if you just want more Savage Planet, that’s exactly what you’ll get. It’s a nice treat and offers some fun new content to what’s an already entertaining package.
Though it’s not loaded with extras, there are some fun secrets to uncover and side missions to take on. And if you factor in the Hot Garbage DLC, you’re likely to spend 10 to 12 hours adventuring in the titular savage planet — more or less depending on how much you fancy exploring and finding secrets.
In addition to the DLC, Journey to the Savage Planet: Employee of the Month Edition also features performance and graphics modes. These function much like they did in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt when that game received its Next-Gen Update. Basically, performance mode means gameplay will run a lot smoother and faster while sacrificing a tiny bit of visual fidelity. Meanwhile, graphics mode ups the quality of every little detail from foliage to textures at the expense of the game’s framerate.
Whether you favor performance or graphics, though, Journey to the Savage Planet is an absolutely charming game to behold. The world design is excellent, and the use of vibrant colors helps create a truly unique-looking first-person Metroidvania. Straight-up, this game is as fun to play as it is to look at.
It’s impossible not to be beguiled by Journey to the Savage Planet. It’s an awesome adventure that’s loaded with humor and charm. Not to mention, it’s just so much fun to play. On top of that, Employee of the Month Edition truly is the definitive version of the game as it includes the Hot Garbage DLC expansion, an enhanced photo mode, two graphics options, and stunning visual fidelity. With all of that said, this planet is as lovely as it is savage, and you’re bound to have a great time exploring all of it.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
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