It’s 10,000 A.D, and the human race is still alive-which is a very good sign. We’ve even established our very own colonies in space, but the only thorn in the metaphorical bed of roses is that we’ve encountered an incurable disease. Nicknamed ‘The Blight’, the disease runs rampant and threatens to eradicate humanity’s existence unless some brave soul stands up to it. That brave soul, is you.
Independent Montreal games company Kitfox Games has shown us what creativity can really do with Shattered Planet, a turn-based strategy RPG with random level generation and a pretty gorgeous soundtrack. Featuring over 200 different collectible items, dozens of alien monsters to battle, and an often quirky sense of humor deployed throughout the game, I knew I had to sit down and pilot test it.
My initial reaction was to be blown away by the menu page and the ethereal space music, but I knew I had to click play eventually. Fairly soon I started receiving incoming messages from an alien creature on the bottom of the screen, which informed me of the gameplay basics before I arrived on my first world. Similar to the maps in Age of Empires, the vast majority of the area is shrouded in black and is only unveiled when your character proceeds in that direction. Anatomically bizarre monsters then began sprouting up around me, and as instinctive as it is for action RPGers to fight in order to gain XP, my character plunged into battle. She fought very bravely, and unfortunately, died very quickly. One drawback about dying in Shattered Planet is that just like when Ravio reclaims all his rented items in Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, you are also stripped of all your items and are returned to a lab.
The lab is a respawn point where you can synthesize new objects using ‘R.O.S.A’ or the Random Objects Synthesis Apparatus; you can change your character’s appearance by selecting another available ‘clone’, or invest in some training in order to upgrade your strength, wits, and health, which affect (respectively) your damage and dodge abilities, and your health.
What is really great about Shattered Planet is the overall play structure, as players can select levels ranging from fairly easy to virtually impossible: Explorer mode (varying difficulty), hard, very hard, and crazy hard. The higher the difficulty level, the higher the reward, which is another neat element of the game. Rewards are in the form of crystals, shiny green goodies that you can use in the lab to purchase new objects (synthesis requires money) from R.O.S.A, or to get your hands on some explosives from Crystalobot, the ever-smiling resident lab robot. In a long list of synthesizable armor and weapons including a katana, cyber goggles, and a crablet disguise, I found the pick axe was a fairly formidable choice.
Another thing to watch out for are the triangular yellow metal structures, which bear a strong resemblance to cheese pizza, but are in fact used to increase your stats throughout the game. I chose to focus on Strength and Health, since they’re the two attributes I felt were most crucial for battle. The combat aspect transported me back to games such as DragonFable and AdventureQuest, with the major difference being that any movement you make in Shattered Planet results in your enemies moving as well. Leveling up and receiving variable rewards in the form of new weapons and collectible items (such as a skull mask-the ‘latest in exoskeletal fashion’) provides you with exactly the right sort of motivation to keep slaying those aliens.
Punching aliens in the name of science never sounded so good.