Lana is a happy young girl who is enjoying life in her home village with her family when tragedy strikes. Space-alien-robots arrive (we’ll call them robots from hereon), kidnapping all of the villagers, including Lana’s older sister whom she is very fond of. Lana then sets off on a mission to rescue her people and find out what happened. Along the way she meets Mui, a cat-like creature with above-average agility, enabling him to effortlessly leap both extremely high and very long distances. Paired with her new feline friend, Lana sets off on an adventure across stunning yet dangerous landscapes in a bid to restore normality. Welcome to our Planet of Lana review!
Planet of Lana is an at-once interesting, beautiful adventure. You become immediately immersed in the setting and it is very difficult to not be pulled right into the story on a near-emotional level. Despite appearing like one at first, Planet of Lana is not a Metroidvania. You aren’t required to backtrack, there are no enemy onslaughts (there is no battle at all, in fact), nor do you gain anywhere near as many abilities. Planet of Lana is simply an effortlessly beautiful 2D sidescrolling puzzle platformer.
Soon after beginning her quest, Lana meets Mui, who becomes more of a friend than a pet and also serves as a vital tool throughout the game. Without Mui, many of the puzzles would be impossible to solve. Puzzles are key in Planet of Lana, all of which require you to figure out a way to progress to the next point of the level. Some puzzles require you to move things around to open certain doorways, whereas others require you to activate certain elements to progress. Others also require Lana to navigate around an enemy without drawing attention to herself and/or being caught.
Some solutions are simple whereas others are quite ingenious as you are required to recruit Mui to assist you in certain hard-to-reach places. Other enemy-based puzzles require you to time your actions precisely so that you can escape safely. When caught you will have to go back to the most recent checkpoint.
Each puzzle aims to enable Lana to access a certain area and often with an enemy present. Some puzzles require the use of environmental elements. Some even require you to leave the puzzle area entirely to source additional items to help. There are all manner of beautiful, wonderful things to observe and interact with whilst travelling through the world. Lana also encounters elements and objects along the way that reveal a little more of the story to her, though these are few and far between.
Despite the beautiful overall style, it often felt as if something was missing from Planet of Lana. It feels no different after several hours than it did after several minutes / when playing it for the first time. The puzzles become slightly more complex but are always easily solvable, normally within five minutes at most.
A companion and a friend
As mentioned, Mui is not only an adorable companion, but a vital tool in helping you solve puzzles to progress. Mui’s ability to leap both extremely high and very long distances with ease means that you can command him to assist with certain aspects that are inaccessible to Lana. This is key when solving puzzles as you often need to utilise Mui as much as possible to achieve the solution. There are lots of areas where Lana requires Mui to jump to the top of a small overhang and instruct him to knock down a vine so that she can climb up to progress. Other times, Mui acts as a distraction to enemies, allowing Lana to pass by in the nick of time.
Such things are fun at first and you can’t help but watch with a loving smile on your face as Mui unquestioningly and devotedly literally leaps into the path of near-certain death to help Lana out. However, after completing several similar puzzles, the novelty wears off and it becomes more of a case of just going through the motions to complete puzzles as there isn’t much variety.
There is no combat in Planet of Lana. Rather, you must use common sense to progress safely and avoid gaining the robots’ attention. Puzzles that appear to be simple at first often end up surprising you as they require you to do more than you initially thought. Despite the puzzles gradually becoming slightly repetitive, the ways in which you must navigate past enemies often don’t get repetitive, which is great. Those puzzles require you to really study the environment to see which environmental tools you have available to you to progress. There are several such puzzles that you will almost always fail at the first time, and the aforementioned factors all help to keep the game fresh.
Basic puzzle moves consist of jumping across platforms, pushing and pulling objects to different places as well as standing on pressure pads to activate certain aspects. There are other aspects such as having Mui telepathically connect with a tentacle-like object and pull on it using telekinesis. This subsequently reaches a point where the tentacle reaches its limit and snaps back, causing the organism to lift the tentacled-barrier that it had in place, allowing Lana and Mui to progress. Other aspects include instructing Mui to disappear into a hole, usually to distract an enemy and quietly emerge from another connected hole in a safe area, unbeknownst to the robot(s).
There are ten collectables to find in the form of Shrines. All ten are tucked away in hidden areas throughout the game, with each one forming a single piece of a much larger puzzle. Aside from potentially gaining an achievement, there doesn’t appear to be any story-based reason to collect them all. This means that unless you want to 100% the game, there appears to be no real reason to want to return to this aspect of the game.
Planet of Lana is an aesthetically stunning game, with each hand-painted setting a true spectacle to behold. When moving from one area to the next, the transition is displayed via a cinematic camera pan, which is a nice touch and complements the beautiful visuals perfectly.
There are wonderful organic-looking elements scattered throughout, all of which are alien but somehow familiar too. Such elements include bridges that open on demand via pressure pads and vast creatures that can drain an entire body of water in seconds if you ask Mui to lure a worm out of a hole (bizarre, yes, but very cool to watch).
Cinematics play a large role in setting the mood and scene in Planet of Lana. As Lana passes by certain areas, the camera will sometimes zoom out a great distance to reveal vast, magnificent elements in the background.
The sounds of nature all around in Planet of Lana sound perfect and nothing sounded out of place at any point. The language that the characters speak is unique to this game and is very pleasant to listen to, adding nicely to the overall relaxed vibe. By listening to the characters’ intonation alone, it is relatively simple to understand what is going on at any point whenever they communicate verbally. (Even Mui has a voice, which is a series of adorable squeaks, and one that I dare you not to fall immediately in love with.)
Planet of Lana is certainly a game that you can easily get lost in for a few hours. Taking only around six hours to complete, it is a game that can fit easily into a busy lifestyle and also one that is suitable for the whole family. Aesthetically, Planet of Lana is beautiful and the cinematics make for a very smooth experience from one area to the next. Everything sounds great and Mui’s cat-voice is quite possibly the cutest in-game animal voice that I have ever heard. Puzzles are fun and interesting at first, but there is little variety as the game progresses. As such, the novelty may wear off and you may find yourself going through the motions rather than enjoying each puzzle for what it is.
Overall, Planet of Lana is a fun and enjoyable experience which will get you thinking. However, it did feel like something was missing, causing the game to ultimately feel anticlimactic and even stale in some areas. Despite that, it is beautiful to observe, highly immersive in areas and definitely an experience worth having.
- Aesthetically stunning
- Great sound
- Enemies are unique and interesting
- Fun puzzles
- In-game language is pleasant
- Mui is adorable
- Puzzles can grow stale due to a lack of variety
- Lots of running between puzzles
- Feels like something is missing
Planet of Lana is currently available through GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming. This review was made by Mus from PapaBear Gaming. You can check out his channel right here. You can follow him on Twitter by going here. That was it for our Planet of Lana review.