Planet of Lana is a captivating 2D side-scrolling puzzle platformer that masterfully combines stunning visuals, elegant gameplay mechanics, and a subtle, emotionally-driven narrative. Developed by Wishfully and published by Thunderful, this indie gem takes players on a mesmerizing journey through a beautifully hand-painted world, filled with mystery, danger, and heartwarming moments.
Right from the start, Planet of Lana dazzles players with its breathtaking art style. The hand-painted landscapes, filled with vibrant colors and detailed textures, create a visually stunning backdrop that feels like a living painting. From lush grasslands and murky forests to eerie deserts and otherworldly spaces, each environment is distinct and evocative, immersing players in a world that is both familiar and otherworldly.
The attention to detail is evident in every frame, with the sunlight delicately playing on blades of grass and casting dynamic shadows that create a sense of depth and immersion. The character and creature designs are equally impressive, with adorable yet expressive animations that breathe life into the game’s inhabitants. It’s clear that every element of the visuals has been carefully crafted to create a cohesive and captivating experience.
A Subtle Storytelling Approach
Planet of Lana tells its narrative in a unique and restrained manner, relying on visual storytelling and player interpretation rather than extensive dialogue or cutscenes. The story follows Lana, a young girl and her loyal companion, a cat-dog-like creature, as they navigate their war-torn world, filled with menacing mechanical beings and mysterious black goop.
The game’s narrative unfolds gradually, teasing glimpses of a once-prosperous society and the devastating impact of the invasion. Through stunning environmental details, subtle visual cues, and evocative imagery, players piece together the history and motivations of the world, often purposefully left open to interpretation.
The relationship between Lana and her companion is at the heart of the game, drawing players into a touching bond that grows as they navigate the challenges together. The game expertly manages to convey emotions and stakes through minimalistic storytelling, leaving the interpretation and emotional resonance in the player’s hands.
Challenging Stealth Gameplay
Planet of Lana’s gameplay mechanics revolve around stealth and puzzle-solving, offering a refreshing and engaging experience. As Lana, players must navigate the world, avoiding enemies, solving puzzles, and utilizing her unique companion’s abilities to progress. Stealth is paramount, as combat is not an option. Instead, players must outsmart their mechanical adversaries by sneaking through long grass, finding hidden passages, and luring enemies away using the AI companion’s assistance.
The puzzles in Planet of Lana gradually increase in complexity, building upon previously learned mechanics and introducing new elements that test the players’ problem-solving skills. From navigating environmental hazards to manipulating the ecosystem, the puzzles are cleverly designed, offering a sense of satisfaction as each solution is discovered. The gameplay never feels overly challenging or frustrating, thanks to the game’s excellent pacing and intuitive controls.
Dynamic Companion System
The AI companion in Planet of Lana is not only a charming addition but also a crucial gameplay element. Players can direct the companion to reach inaccessible areas, create ropes for Lana to climb, distract enemies, and assist in various other tasks. The simplistic control scheme, achieved by squeezing a trigger and aiming, allows for effortless manipulation of the companion, enhancing the overall flow of the gameplay.
What sets the companion system apart is the need for mutual assistance. Players must care for their companion, helping them navigate obstacles and ensuring their safety. This dynamic creates a beautiful synergy between Lana and her companion, emphasizing the importance of their bond and elevating the emotional resonance of the game.
Atmosphere and Level Design
Planet of Lana excels in crafting a distinct atmosphere throughout its varied environments. From idyllic landscapes to haunting ruins, each location is meticulously designed to reflect the ever-evolving state of the world. The sound design and music contribute significantly to the overall experience, complementing the visuals and enhancing the emotional impact of each moment.
The level design seamlessly blends traversal challenges, puzzle-solving sequences, and moments of respite. The pacing is expertly executed, providing moments of tension and excitement alongside calmer sections for reflection and exploration. The game never overstays its welcome, consistently introducing new elements and puzzles to keep players engaged and invested.
Planet of Lana is a true masterpiece of artistic craftsmanship and subtle storytelling. Its visually stunning hand-painted landscapes, emotionally-driven narrative, challenging gameplay mechanics, and engaging companion system create an unforgettable experience. While it may not introduce groundbreaking mechanics or revolutionize the genre, it excels in its execution and attention to detail.
Wishfully’s dedication to creating a beautifully realized world, combined with Thunderful’s commitment to publishing meaningful indie titles, culminate in a game that stands tall among its peers. Planet of Lana strikes a delicate balance between elegance and accessibility, allowing players to immerse themselves in its captivating world and experience a beautifully crafted journey that will resonate long after the credits roll.