Threaks and Wild River Games bring Battle Planet – Judgement Day to PC and consoles after spending time on Android in VR as Battle Planet VR. This non-VR version of the game feels more fleshed out, and offers more longevity. This is a game that proudly wears its inspirations on its sleeve, but brings enough originality to the table to feel fresh. Except, it doesn’t bring enough to feed everyone. While Battle Planet – Judgement Day falters in some aspects, it’s still an absolute joy to play and you’ll be ready for “one more run”.
The entirety of the story can be told in a single sentence: a prisoner spacecraft crashes onto a planet after a malfunction, and releases three very dangerous criminals that fight for their lives. See? There’s not much in the way of a story, but all that means is that the game is ready to get you into the action as quickly as possible.
At first, the only playable character is the Raider class, they’re equal parts speed and power. There are more, but have to be unlocked. On the character select screen you’ve got the Spy, Raider, and Psycho, with the former and the latter being bosses you defeat to unlock them. The Spy moves faster and has a slightly different loadout, and the Psycho is slower but more powerful with their loadout. It’s of course all a preference, but the Raider simply feels like the best as they feel balanced. The other classes seem to be there for added difficulty.
This is a roguelite top-down shooter, that encroaches on bullet hell very quickly. It’s really fun, and you’ve got ample movement even with the heaviest character class. The presentation is fantastic, showing your character and all enemies as absolute units. Everyone is oversized against these seemingly tiny planets, with a planet view similar to Super Stardust. The planet scale just looks and feels so good.
There’s only three objectives that the game cycles through at any point, which introduces monotony very early on, so much so that even objectives will repeat one after another. You’ll either need to: defuse bombs, survive for a set time, or defeat all enemies on the planet. There are variations therein with solar flares engulfing half the planet like it’s a “Riddick” film, but that’s about it. There’s a concept of planet destabilization in the event you fail to disarm bombs, they will decrease the planet’s health. Once that is depleted, it is game over. Similarly, if you die, so it is to. But when you reach the final wave, it’s a boss fight of a humongous enemy with an absurd health bar. Once dead, you’ll move to a new planet to do it all again. Why you move planet to planet is not explained, but planets become increasingly more hostile and dangerous to navigate with some sort of hazard that can hurt you. I wish there was more variety as you move from planet to planet so quickly.
Between planets, you’ll stop at a shop to be able to purchase upgrades using the earned in-game currency called chips that will be permanent for your currently selected character. These are called Biotech Upgrades, and range from boosting health to upgrading weapons to be more powerful. It’s also here that you can swap out your special ability. It’s an ability that has a cooldown, with the default being an explosion that creates space in 360° blast wave. You can also try out different weapons before moving on. Any unspent chips are not lost, and will again accumulate as you continue. Chips also persist between characters, making them a shared pool if you end up bouncing between characters. It’s a very forgiving system for which I’m thankful for.
As you run around planets, weapons will drop. In later waves, they will be new weapons that open up upgrade opportunities, and increase their chances of dropping in subsequent runs. Alongside from the currency that can be picked up, health always seems to drop at the right moment, and never anywhere in-between. You’ll be fighting everything from the police to giant space bugs, and it’s a colorful and visual splendor.
There’s some oddities with the game that I think can be fixed in due time. For instance, you can’t pull up the pause menu until the game properly starts after the countdown. Even without a controller plugged in, Battle Planet – Judgement Day insisted on showing me Xbox button prompts. Or even if I did have a controller plugged in, wouldn’t swap back to keyboard controls when using it to navigate menus. Not so much an offender, but an aggravation was the fact that your character’s lines would repeat just enough to notice. These are all fixable things, but problems nonetheless.
You pretty much see everything the game has to offer after your first run, but it’s the compulsion to unlock character and upgrade that fuels the drive to continue on. I still found myself starting a new run to build up more money to buy that next upgrade, but was met with diminishing returns. Threaks have the foundation of something great, but need to add more to the game to break up the eventual monotony in the things you do and encounter. As it stands, Battle Planet – Judgement Day is good, but is so repetitive that it hurts the overall experience.
A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes