Planet of Lana is a cinematic puzzle platformer from Wishfully and Thunderful Publishing. It follows the journey of Lana on a quest to look for her people that have been taken from her by a hostile alien invasion. In my Planet of Lana review, I’ll talk about her journey, the dangers she’ll face, and the friend she’ll make.
Story and Characters
The game has a powerful setup and follows a young girl named Lana on a planet that looks a lot like Earth. She’s very close to her sister and despite the touching start of the title that goes through the basic controls, and movement, you’re soon met with a fairly terrifying invasion sequence. There are no traditional alien creatures in sight, but large machines that make a lot of noise as they capture everyone in your settlement. You’re the only one left behind and manage to escape.
Lana sets off immediately to look for her sister and calls out to her throughout the game, especially when you’re in a new region. During your journey, you’ll team up with a cat-like creature called Mui that feels as central to the title as Lana herself. Their bond and reliance on each other grow throughout the game, and I enjoyed seeing them overcome challenging sequences together.
The story goes places, and there’s a lot to unpack which I’m sure sci-fi fans will enjoy. There’s a lot of environmental storytelling as well, but the immediate story itself is compelling enough in my opinion that you can’t be blamed for just taking in what’s happening with Lana and Mui.
The few bits of voice acting are excellent, and Lana’s delivery carries a lot of emotional weight. Her love, and concern for Mui is believable, and her desperate calls for her sister are equally sad.
Gameplay and Puzzles
Like Playdead’s Limbo and INSIDE, Planet of Lana is essentially a puzzle platformer where you need to solve different environmental puzzles to progress. I like how the difficulty of each puzzle progresses throughout the game, and Mui is almost always integral to the puzzles. Mui can jump higher, and activate something for you, or drop a rope for you to climb. It can interact with different creatures to move around and shift the environment itself. You both need to work together to figure out what to do next.
Since there’s no combat, your wits will be put to the test, and you’ll have to use the environment to take out the machines. You’re basically vulnerable so direct confrontation is never a possible solution unless you’re using yourself or Mui as bait. I like how the game forces you to make difficult decisions like this where you’re putting your companion in danger to achieve a common goal. It shows the trust between both characters and things can often go wrong.
Some of the earlier puzzles lack the creativity you’d expect from similar titles and didn’t particularly use the setting well enough in my opinion. The ones in the second half of the game became a bit complex though, and took me a while to figure out. I would’ve liked a bit more diversity in the structures and interactive objects because it often felt like you were going through rearranged puzzles with elements you’ve seen before.
In the last few levels, you barely have any breathing room and go from one complicated puzzle to the next. It’s fine, but there was a point where I was more interested in the story’s resolution rather than another brain teaser.
Planet of Lana’s beautiful handpainted presentation of rich colors and jaw-dropping environments easily makes it the highlight of the game. Despite an increasing trend to stuff games to the brim with detail, Planet of Lana’s simple, yet expertly painted world is a joy to traverse.
Lana and Mui have beautiful animations, and given the cinematic quality of the title, their movements feel deliberate. The way Lana climbs, descends, and moves around reminded me a lot of the original Prince of Persia titles. There’s this sense of vulnerability in her realistic movement that further solidifies the dangers she’s facing, not just by the invasion, but by traversing the world itself.
I highly recommend playing this on a big screen to truly appreciate everything the artists have come up with here. The machines, with their thin mechanical bodies and limbs, are a stark contrast to the fauna you’ll see on the planet itself. Each new area you’ll explore feels very different from the last, and just when you think you’ve seen it all, there’s some new biome waiting to blow you away.
Takeshi Furukawa, who previously worked on The Last Guardian, composed the soundtrack. His work here is excellent and complements the tone of the game’s pivotal moments. It’s somber, inviting, and electric when it needs to be.
Overall, I had a lovely time with Planet of Lana and can recommend it to people that enjoy cinematic puzzle platformers as well as a good science fiction story. Lana and Mui are fantastic characters, and their journey is worth checking out. The puzzles become increasingly complex as you progress through the story using Lana and Mui in equal measure but I wish they had a bit more creativity. The presentation is a highlight, with excellent handpainted visuals, and a fantastic soundtrack.
What did you think of our Planet of Lana Review? Share what you think about it in the comments below.
This review is based on the PC version of Planet of Lana. The key was provided by Plan of Attack and Thunderful Publishing.