MSRP: $14.99 (free version with in app purchasing available on iOS / Android)
Platforms: Windows, Mac
I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about rogue-likes and rogue-lites in general. I’ve played a few now, all of them having taken several very large steps away from the origins of the genre. I’ve played a handful now (almost all of them being some sort of rogue-lite variation), and it still feels weird to me to play with perma-death, and without reloadable saves, and to realize that each death and each new character gives you something you didn’t have before, and increases the likelihood that next time, you’ll do better.
Shattered Planet is an exploration-centric rogue-lite. It is also a port of a mobile app, and while that alone isn’t enough to condemn a game, it is enough to make me wonder what is different enough to warrant a $15 purchase price for what was created, essentially, to be played without a start up cost, but with completely optional purchases.
I figured the best way to figure it out would be to download the iOS app onto my phone, and play a little bit of both versions. While the mobile version doesn’t have the annoying energy limitation you often seen in freemium games, you do start with far less health (40 on mobile compared to 100 on PC/Mac). Additionally, the PC/Mac version gives you access to all five “class” options as part of the purchase price (although three are gated behind XP walls), whereas on mobile, you have two classes, with the other three available for purchase at $4.99 each. Since we’re now approximately even cost-wise, the PC/Mac version having an additional game mode (Daily Challenge) might nudge it ahead of the mobile version in terms of value.
As someone who really enjoys exploration-centric games, I’m really enjoying Shattered Planet. You are deposited in a randomly generated alien landscape, and tasked with learning everything you can about everything you can. Sounds easy, right? It would be, if there weren’t so many hostile life forms objecting to your very presence.
Combat requires no skill at all – click to hit, click again to hit, and if it’s still alive, click some more. Because of this, if you weren’t given any opportunity to upgrade your character, you’d die every time in more or less the same place. Each exploration will end with your death, but when you are cloned again on your spaceship, you will be given the opportunity to use the resources you gathered to upgrade your character stats, and gamble on equipment. Any equipment and consumables you are carrying when you die are lost – all that you retain is your knowledge (which translates into experience points) and two forms of currency – scrap metal, and crystals.
With four difficulty levels (not including daily challenges), achievements, and a boat-load of unlockables, there’s a lot of game here. However, given that it’s really pretty shallow and seems to have a low skill ceiling and a lot of luck, I cannot recommend it at full price. There’s no narrative, and no skill challenge. I like the game for what it is – I just don’t know there’s enough game here to play with the bigger kids in the PC/Mac playground.
I do, however, highly recommend downloading the free version on your iOS or Android device. It’s not quite a demo, but it’s a good way to figure out how you feel about this particular combat-lite rogue-lite.