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Planet Of Lana Review

A planet of puzzle and platforms

Sprawling open-world titles that boast about player choice, limitless possibilities and promise hundreds of hours of gameplay certainly have an appeal, although I periodically find myself reaching for far smaller experiences when I have a quiet moment to myself. Games that can comfortably be completed over the course of a day or a lazy weekend are comforting, asking nothing more of you than to sit back and unwind with an interactive narrative and then go on about your business once the credits roll. With the days getting shorter and the weather quickly turning bitter, I recently found myself switching off with a game that perfectly matches that description. From Swedish developers Wishfully, Planet of Lana is a cinematic puzzle platformer that takes you on a gorgeous sci-fi adventure that hits all the right notes.

Opening on a quaint little fishing village, we’re introduced to the titular Lana as she makes her way through the community with her older sister, enjoying their carefree life. However, this idyllic scene doesn’t last long as a wave of malevolent mechanical menaces descends upon the village, abducting the populace, Lana’s sister included. The opening ten or so minutes provide our young protagonist with a call to action, but it also acts as a brief and unintrusive tutorial that goes through the basics of ducking, jumping, hiding from enemies (a grumpy chef in this instance) and the like.

After a brief and fruitless chase to catch up to the departing captors, Lana runs into and quickly befriends a small, inky creature resembling a rotund feline. Think less bobcat and more blobcat. Introduced as Mui, this cute little companion joins you throughout your journey to free your people. And yes, you can kneel down and give your helpful little purr machine a good pat if it pleases you.

I’d take a dip, but those bones are a little foreboding 

Gameplay feels similar to that of Limbo or Little Nightmares, with simple platforming intercut with environmental puzzles that can require a bit of thinking and/or trial and error. Moving objects to create platforms, matching symbols, and activating levers in sequence are standard puzzles that are all present here, but Mui’s presence mixes things up slightly. Your chirpy little friend can be given simple commands by holding the right trigger and pointing, whereupon the little guy will wait patiently, interact with a switch, or knock an object off a ledge, a talent that cats of all shapes and sizes are born with.

Mui follows Lana until a command is given, freeing you up to focus on the task at hand, however dealing with a duo can become slightly cumbersome when hiding from the machines, as Mui will take the most direct route to you, often walking straight to its doom. None of the puzzles feel obtuse or needlessly convoluted, with the solutions becoming clear after a moment or two. Downtime becomes scarce, and the action escalates as the conclusion draws near, which results in some amazing set pieces, though the last-minute inclusion of quicktime events was quite jarring.

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The denizens of this world all speak in their own language, leaving the story to be told largely through body language and musical cues. Thankfully, the game’s score does an amazing job of painting an audible picture of each location and event. From rousing orchestral overtures that accompany wide shots of the sweeping scenery to melancholic melodies that match the hopelessness felt in the young protagonist, every track has something to say, and it sings its message with absolute confidence.

Out on the water with Mui, myself and I

Matching the musical presentation is Planet of Lana’s gorgeous visuals. Exploring the varied vistas the planet offers, each landscape is as stunning as the last. The art style resembles a child’s picture book but with moving illustrations. The colour palette is wonderfully expressive, with the warm tones used in the natural and peaceful environments juxtaposing the lifeless cool tones used for the mechanical invaders. The character design furthers this feeling, with the emotionless enemies all sharing the same ominous eye and spindly legs that carry around bodies that look like teapots, with circuitry replacing the fluid. In opposition, the peaceful human characters all share soft expressions that are light on detail and heavy on charm.

Final Thoughts

Planet of Lana is releasing at the perfect time of year, as players can snuggle up on the couch and play through its short three-hour story with a cup of tea and have a marvellous afternoon. It really is the perfect tea companion, as it shares the same warmth and comforting quality that the drink embodies. Easily accessible yet satisfying puzzles and competent platforming mechanics make Planet of Lana a joy to play through, but the touching story, gorgeous visuals and excellent score lock it in as a weekend treat that almost everyone can enjoy.

Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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Planet Of Lana Review
Planetary Platforming
Gorgeous visuals and a spectacular score elevate an already entertaining puzzle platformer to the same level as some of the genre greats.
The Good
Warm, story book visuals
A brilliant score that works in tandem with the story
Great pacing and perfect length
Simple yet effective gameplay
Mui is super cute
The Bad
The late introduction of QTEs is very jarring
Worrying about a companion can be infrequently frustrating
8.5
Get Around It
  • Wishfully
  • Thunderful Publishing
  • Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One / PC
  • May 24, 2023

Planet Of Lana Review
Planetary Platforming
Gorgeous visuals and a spectacular score elevate an already entertaining puzzle platformer to the same level as some of the genre greats.
The Good
Warm, story book visuals
A brilliant score that works in tandem with the story
Great pacing and perfect length
Simple yet effective gameplay
Mui is super cute
The Bad
The late introduction of QTEs is very jarring
Worrying about a companion can be infrequently frustrating
8.5
Get Around It
Written By Adam Ryan

Adam's undying love for all things PlayStation can only be rivalled by his obsession with vacuuming. Whether it's a Dyson or a DualShock in hand you can guarantee he has a passion for it. PSN: TheVacuumVandal XBL: VacuumVandal Steam: TheVacuumVandal

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