Planet of Lana Review
Check out our review of Planet of Lana to find out what we thought about solving puzzles and sneaking around robots with a cute, furry buddy.
Planet of Lana is an outstandingly beautiful game, with painted vistas that are lush, well-composed, and pleasant. It’s a world bursting with life, and it’s these visuals that get you to empathise with nature. This base of empathy and love, you’ll find, is critical as you witness the heroine Lana progress against all odds to bring back harmony.
In Planet of Lana, you play as a young girl who witnesses her village getting raided, and its inhabitants getting abducted by sinister robots. Lana narrowly escapes the same fate, and then sets out to find her fellow villagers, all in the hopes of restoring the peaceful life she shared with her sister Ilo.
Our protagonist Lana is a fairly agile young girl, but she is still only human. She can only run so fast and climb so much. Thankfully for her, she soon finds assistance in the form of Mui, a tiny cat-like being that can jump higher than Lana, sneak into tunnels with its small size and well… be terrified of water.
Mui as a companion is quite obedient – a trait that proves quite handy to the player, as you can use Mui to press buttons, get to hard-to-reach places, and even serve as bait to get past robots. Lana serves as the counterweight to this partnership by having to go out of her way to help Mui cross water bodies and keep the little critter safe from dangerous wildlife and robots.
The game plays out as a blend of cinematic platformer and puzzle platformer, so you run a lot, and you solve plenty of puzzles along the way as well.
As is standard for cinematic platformer games, Lana’s running, leaping, and climbing movement flows very well. There is a slight sluggishness to the controls – once again, a standard of the genre – but I came to appreciate it. It’s odd praise, but I do think the sluggishness adds to the thrill when being chased by murderous robots, and it underscores how frail and human Lana really is.
At no point in the game does Lana gain any offensive abilities or weapons, but she does solve many a puzzle with the assistance of Mui. These puzzles are expertly constructed, with just enough elements to keep you hooked without feeling overwhelmed.
The solutions to these puzzles were rarely very straightforward, but at the same time, the puzzles never broke the flow of the game.
The game’s narrative didn’t wow me for much of the playtime. This is the part of the game where Lana and Mui journey across various biomes, solving new kinds of puzzles and escaping patrolling robots.
Towards the end, however, the game really picked up with some fantastic sequences, which were particularly elevated by the game’s stellar audio-visual design.
Developer Wishfully appears to be acutely aware of the ‘cinematic’ part of a cinematic platformer. Many aspects and hints of the story are conveyed through delicate details in both sound and video.
There’s pain in the way Lana’s voice chokes as she calls out for her sister, there’s adoration as she giggles running alongside Mui, and there’s fear as she whispers for her ally when there are enemies nearby.
There’s humanity – strained through the frames of the game’s art, design, animation, voice acting, and also its grand score. The fantastic soundtrack reminded me frequently of John Williams’ soundtrack for the original Star Wars trilogy. This attention to detail and strong production quality turns what is a rote story into something far grander and livelier.
Planet of Lana registers itself as one of the definitive games in the cinematic platformer genre, conveying emotion, wonder, and entertainment through its excellent presentation.
It’s an accomplished debut for developer Wishfully, showing off the studio’s cinematic chops and production capabilities. Their next game, I expect, will reach even higher highs – and I can’t wait to be there for it.
Country of Origin: Sweden
Publisher: Thunderful Publishing
Release Date: May 23, 2023 (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S)
This review of Planet of Lana is based on retail copy of the game acquired from PC Game Pass. The PC version of Planet of Lana was played for this review.
Thank you for reading our review of Planet of Lana! Already playing the game? Be sure to check out our walkthrough, which covers the entire game and all the shrine locations!
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