I could say that Lovely Planet is minimalist in its design as a FPS, or even as a platformer, but using the term minimalist isn’t a bad thing. Truth be told, Lovely Planet is just plain underwhelming.
The point of Lovely Planet is to kill bad guys, avoid killing the good guys, and reach the end of the level without taking damage or allowing a fallen apple to touch the floor. Taking damage is a one-hit kill. Shooting innocents fails the level. Dying fails the level. Watching an apple hit the ground fails the level. In short, anything red needs to die, or you’re going to die. And you will. A lot.
It boils down to replaying the same level repeatedly, memorizing enemy placement and praying to your deity of choice that your fired arrow finds its mark. There’s no cursor or crosshair, which didn’t make things any easier. I’m okay with a challenge, but when end-of-level medals are awarded based on accuracy, and those are literally the only reason to play (since there’s the baffling absence of leaderboards–friendly or otherwise), I may as well have gone through the game blindfolded.
The entire game takes place in first-person, so typical FPS controls were to be expected. However, the ability to jump is bound to LT, while LB is used for a poorly designed lock-on feature–which isn’t worth a lick if you’re in motion.. and you always are.
Since Lovely Planet is mostly played full speed ahead, I understand the developer’s decision to bind jump to a trigger–there’s just no time to take your thumb off of the right analog stick to press a face button. This took some getting used to, but I never truly felt in control due to the floaty and unpredictable nature of first-person platforming. It’s just a hard thing to pull off, really.
I can probably count the amount of successful first-person platformers on one hand, and sadly this isn’t one of them. With little room for error, and plenty of segments that required simultaneous use of platforming and shooting, Lovely Planet’s lack of control became my worst enemy. I stopped having fun almost immediately, and didn’t feel any better at the game after an hour or so of playing through the first 30-40 stages (many of them numerous times).
The visuals are unique, existing somewhere between Proteus, Jumping Flash, and what I imagine an LSD trip at Disneyland feels like if I were armed with NERF darts. Everything seems harmless and colorful, which is surprising, given the frustrating nature of the gameplay. Looks can be deceiving, after all.
With no story to help it along, I had a hell of a time staying interested in Lovely Planet. Not because I enjoy a good story, mind you, but because I just didn’t care for the controls, their lack of customization, or the frustrating nature of its gameplay.
There’s really no saving grace here. Lovely Planet has no long lasting appeal to me, no staying power, and I have little desire to revisit it outside of this review. Unless your interests lie primarily in speedrunning games, it’s probably best to avoid this one. There are far more enjoyable options on Xbox One for the same $9.99 price tag.
*So where’s the final score? There isn’t one. I did spend a lot of time conveying my opinion in the above text, and I hope that’s worth more to you than some arbitrary number or a sequence of shaded in star shapes. Basically, I’m not a fan of scores so I no longer use them. Read the review and judge for yourself if it’s worth playing.
Full disclosure: This review was done using an Xbox One copy of Lovely Planet provided by the game’s publisher, tinyBuild Games. I pride myself on providing unbiased reviews to fellow consumers and constructive feedback to hard working developers. Whether or not I pay for the game is completely irrelevant.