The plot of Wishfully’s Planet of Lana opens with Lana chasing her older sister Ilo. As the two move through their coastal community, we observe the locals going about their daily lives, running the market or the neighborhood butcher. The entire sequence serves as both an easy instruction for the platforming fundamentals and an introduction to the sisters.
Things swiftly change, though, when mysterious machines appear out of nowhere in the planet’s atmosphere. Ilo is taken hostage, and when Lana arrives back in the village, the once-calm surroundings are on fire, with the screams of its inhabitants reverberating throughout. Everybody is captured by the robots for an unknown reason, and the previously amusing chase turns into a frantic and desperate struggle to get out as your stealth abilities are put to the test.
The remarkable attention to detail in Planet of Lana is demonstrated by contrasts like this one. The story skillfully transitions from a serene scene to one of conflict as it introduces you to the characters, world, and gameplay. Given her youth and motivation to find her sister, Lana is unlikely to be aware of the dangers that lie in store for her in the woods. You begin to wonder about the planet’s very nature because the fauna and vegetation you discover are almost as alien to her as you are.
The specifics of what is occurring, the reason why machines are snatching people, and much more slowly develop over the story. The special language that Lana and her people use is untranslated, which makes the first game of chase all the more important for Lana in discovering the name of her sister. As a result, the environment is used extensively in narrative. You’ll see neighboring settlements destroyed or overrun, perhaps as a result of the robots, and you’ll also stumble upon mysterious, dark caves.
Every place has a narrative, and the cutscenes, which either serve as magnificent establishing shots of the locations or showcase what appears to be the machines’ mothership, flow naturally with the action. Everything is presented with great care, slow zoom-outs highlighting the size of the earth and its beauty, and an astounding contrast created by the frame. Although Lana isn’t your standard heroine and is undoubtedly in over her head, she will stop at nothing to save her sister.
Naturally, Lana doesn’t make the trip by herself. She is accompanied by Mui, a little creature that she frees from a machine’s trap. Mui leaps up to bring down a rope for Lana to climb as she climbs through the environment with ease. It can also maneuver through small gaps that Lana couldn’t crawl through, descend into holes to frighten away adversaries, and perform many more things.
Mui also needs assistance because it dislikes swimming and is unable to get past barricaded spots. There are instances when you’ll construct bridges for each character to cross, assisting them both. The dynamic between Lana and Mui changes as they face greater challenges. Lana can give orders to Mui in addition to jumping, climbing, and falling from ledges. It can be instructed to follow or remain while you designate a destination place. Although it sounds straightforward, the introductory puzzles do a fantastic job at manipulating this dynamic.
Mui will initially stay on some peculiar flora in order to build a bridge for Lana to traverse. Then you’re ordering Lana to climb around a machine while Mui is being told to activate a light to deter it, or you’re diverting a large creature with Lana while Lana is being told to escape before it can reach you. The complexity of the riddles increases, especially when new principles are introduced, but Planet of Lana deserves praise for its skillful introduction.
Since Lana and Mui must survive every encounter, each failure may have caused some frustration. The challenges feel natural and well-thought-out, though, and often the key to success is observing your surroundings and an enemy’s tendencies while having fair reflexes. And even if you die, there are plenty of checkpoints and quick loading times to get you back into the action right away.
Lana does not feel as floating as the typical platforming character (or Mui). You must consider momentum before jumping; you cannot change your direction while in the air. The controls, though, feel natural and responsive. Since the cursor appears to “snap” to vantage points, guiding Mui to certain locations takes some getting used to, but it does so well enough.
Planet of Lana has stunning visuals. Whether you’re walking through a forest or gazing out at the horizon as the ocean spreads out, the settings and backgrounds appear to have been hand painted and animate realistically. No scene seems too or excessively detailed. Without being overbearing or overblown, the lighting and color scheme convey the mood of many scenarios, from dazzling and wondrous to dark and sinister. At moments, it resembles a game of balance, yet it effectively captures the essence of the experience.
But it’s even more amazing how Wishfully emphasizes themes of survival above gruesome killing, focusing instead on family and environmental awareness. Additionally, the animations are flawless. When Lana cocks her head in the direction of potential targets, the machines fluidly transition from hostile to searching.
The soundtrack and effects come next. When the machines land, the orchestrations boom with tension while Lana is pursuing Ilo. As the sound of birds and the breeze carries through many places, traveling with Mui is subtle but still somewhat uplifting. Additionally, the voice acting is excellent even if you don’t speak the language. Their friendship is further cemented by hearing Mui occasionally chuckle and Lana’s tone shift depending on the circumstance.
Planet of Lana is similar to Playdead’s Inside in many aspects. As you explore more of the environment in search of answers, it is tautly paced with well-done puzzles but also has a sense of mystery. Additionally, they both have the perception that the world is out to get them.
The relationship between Lana, Mui, and the world itself is different in Planet of Lana. As more bizarre happenings take place, there is an empathy that goes along with the astonishment rather than a feeling of isolation brought on by diverse foes and circumstances. The world can be lovely and terrifying, equally supporting you or working against you.
On a PC, the game performed perfectly and without any problems at all. One problem that I found had no effect on my experience. Rebindable controls aren’t present, but Wishfully has promised that they’ll be added as soon as feasible, along with accessibility features and a switch to disable the UI. Even the default controls felt excellent, so the absence of such settings didn’t really influence my experience, but it would still be good to have them.
To further accelerate the pace, a few small puzzles might have been cut. There isn’t much replay value however; the only options are hidden regions and chapter selection to go back and review earlier chapters. Not that it has any negative effects at all. Really, it’s difficult to find any issue at all.
Overall, Planet of Lana is a stunning experience that features tight gameplay, an engaging and well-designed universe, and a fascinating story supported by two likeable leads and a menacing menace. It might slip beneath the radar of some major blockbusters this year, yes, even this quarter. The journey of Lana and Mui, however, is worthwhile taking and remembering.
Planet of Lana Ratings