Developer/Publisher: BiggameIncubator || Overall: 5/10
It’s often that I’ll play random games and discover that I like them or hate them. It’s quite another experience to play a game that brings the question of “why does this exist?” Keeplanet is more of a game that confuses me more than anything else. I don’t hate it and I certainly don’t like it, but mostly I just don’t “get” it. There’s some sort of design philosophy to this title, but the end goal didn’t seem to be “fun.”
Keeplanet‘s concept rides on the principal of “balance.” You are the “World Commander” of a set of planets in a solar system, your role being to develop the new home for humanity after Earth got blowed up. Your goal is develop your world by placing objects on the outer rim of the planet and keep the balance of all of the objects such that the world keeps spinning and isn’t dragged down by being too heavy on one side. You can balance the world on the fly by placing more objects down and hoping you are “calculating” correctly before your world’s inhabitants are killed off from the lack of rotation. Gravity seems to have taken a vacation from the rules of physics, but there’s stranger things happening in quantum mechanics so anything is possible, I suppose.
There’s nothing that’s inherently fun about the concept of randomly placing objects on the extreme edges of a planet, though. Not only is it a pain to actually see where you’re placing things, but the planet will get “bigger” as more objects are placed and you put down even more objects between those objects. Some levels require putting down a hundred or more of these “objects” so you’ll really have to be paying attention to what the hell is going on. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t really provide you with the tools or information to help you in this manner. There is a weight scale that defines the weight of the planet’s “left” and “right” (whatever that means) and as the world rotates on its axis and more objects are built, these numbers change constantly. The goal is to keep these numbers as balanced as possible and the world will rotate. If it stops rotating, then your population will start dying out from heat and cold and once it reaches zero, it’s game over.
The user interface leaves a lot to be desired. There’s a large “Play” button on the menu screen that you only use one time, but stays there after you click it. Selecting your level beckons you to click a WORD that says “Play” not the big Play button that becomes a quick way to close the entire menu and put you back to the Title Screen. Like, why the hell do I need to go back to the Title Screen at that point? Just hide the Play button or use it as the level selection.
The information provided regarding objects is basically nonsensical and I just don’t care about the numbers when I have to plop down 300 objects quickly — otherwise I’d be here for 30 minutes for one of these levels and that ain’t happening. Of course, I die over and over regardless, so I’m stuck playing that long anyway! I also really don’t get why the outer edges of the planet are the only thing being used; when the planet becomes bigger it becomes impossible to see all parts of the planet without zooming out, which makes the objects you are placing much smaller. Where’s the joy in placing some stupid ass mountain on a planet if I can’t see it???? Or those dumb trees, for that matter. There’s no agency here where I can pick which objects I want to place and create a strategy to overcome the task at hand — it’s more of a Tetris with objects being served to you and you dealing with it. So, some World Commander you are. Who is building these unwanted mountains for you? Why not some big speakers that play Spanish music to liven up the place? There’s also a big wasted space in the center of the planet which I feel could have been used for the user interface information in a more creative way, but instead the UI elements get in the way of the game play, and you mostly just stare at blank space on your screen. The graphics are generally inoffensive, otherwise. The sound isn’t that annoying, but there’s a siren that will go off when your population is dying, which can be a bit annoying.
The only real positive aspect of this game is that it is really cheap. It is currently $1.99 on Steam at full price, so you can probably get it with some Steam balance and check it out if it interests you. There are probably about twenty levels including the “Challenges.” It’s not particularly impressive, but it works and you can play it.
I don’t really understand why the title of the game is “Keeplanet,” but it probably goes along with the translation errors that can be picked out in the text. Maybe it’s as simple as “Keep your planet alive. Keep. Planet. Keeplanet.” ::facepalm::
When it comes to the store’s page, it’s almost comical how weirdly it is worded at points. Two quotes from the Store page and my analysis:
Develop the planet
In Keeplanet, you create your own history – there’s no right or wrong way to play! Become a world’s landlord, spread out trees, mountains, houses and other objects to make the planet rotate around its axis. Remember, the most important thing is not to let the planet stop. Otherwise, all inhabitants of the planet will die out from sunburn or freezing.
Except there is a right or wrong way to play. You get game overs when you don’t play the right way! It says it right in the same paragraph that if you let the planet stop you lose, that’s the definition of having a wrong way to play!
Fight for the humanity
Universe is a dangerous place, protect people from external hazards – meteorites, meteor rains and vigilant aliens are waiting for your mistakes.
Don’t let them break you!
Fighting for “the” humanity = fighting for our morals?
External hazards from outside of the universe?
The vigilant aliens just ram your planet, similar to meteors. Meteorites are also meteors that have hit the Earth, so are meteors that hit Earth, flying off of Earth across the universe and then hitting your new planet? What a bunch of assholes.
The same sort of thing happens with the in-game text, but there isn’t nearly as much writing, so there’s less to fuck up. Some of the English is so broken, they are just words on screen with no association to each other.