Review – Planet Nomads

Disclaimer: I did receive a copy of this game for free via Keymailer; however, this has not affected my review. I’ve enjoyed spending many hours playing Planet Nomads because it is fun, not because I didn’t have to pay for it.

EARLY ACCESS GAME – THIS REVIEW MAY BECOME OUT OF DATE RATHER QUICKLY!

Gameplay

Planet Nomads title screen

In Planet Nomads, you find yourself stranded on a hostile alien planet. Gather food, fight off menacing herds of bizarre wildlife, and collect the resources you need to travel the planet looking for your crewmates – as well as more exotic phenomena!

Progression through the game is fairly quick, although there is plenty of material for many hours of exploration and experimentation with the sandbox aspect of the game. I expect -and hope – that more long-term challenges will appear as the game is developed.

On that note, I do want to point out that unlike many Early Access games, Planet Nomads is being frequently updated. Updates tend to be small, but they have been coming out every few weeks since I’ve been playing, which is excellent.

Controls

Controls are mostly pretty straightforward. Players can easily switch between 1st person and 3rd person POV. Whether in combat, building advanced bases and vehicles, or piloting those vehicles across the planet, most controls are fairly intuitive and very responsive.

Build Mode has the most difficult learning curve in the game, and even it isn’t too complicated. A few updates to the in-game tutorial system have made it very approachable.

Graphics Style

Planet Nomads

The realistic graphics mostly look very sophisticated and polished. A few UI elements need further development, but in general the graphics are very high quality.

It’s generally very easy to tell what you’re looking at, and the interface does convey most essential information very efficiently.

Within a biome, textures and models can start to seem a bit repetitive, with very little variety. This is not unusual for a sandbox game, however, especially one in Early Access.

Sound Design

I love the sound design in Planet Nomads. The music is very nice – I’ve bought the soundtrack to play in the car.

Environmental effects are very immersive. You can hear the wind blowing through the grass, wildlife moving around, insects buzzing – and it all feels natural and right.

Machinery whirrs and hums as it powers up and manufactures items, airblades chop the air with a nice visceral helicopter noise, and interface sound effects are spot on. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about how this game sounds.

Story

Investigating a distress signal…

There’s a lot of mystery in this game. The player uncovers the story bit by bit while tracking down distress signals and finding other points of interest scattered across the planet.

The story is very linear, but it has a fair amount of depth and complexity to it. Over time, it becomes obvious that there’s more to this planet than meets the eye – and perhaps a purpose to the player character having crash-landed here.

I don’t know that there’s anything particularly unique in the story – if there is, I haven’t found it after over 50 hours of gameplay – but it’s well done, and in a sandbox I don’t think story is critically important anyway.

Fun Factor

I played a little bit of Planet Nomads to record a First Look video, and at the end, I couldn’t stop playing. It’s REALLY fun.

It’s not a game you can disappear into for months at a time – yet – due to quick progression and limited content. I have faith that this will change. There’s still room for lots of creativity and many hours of exploration.

Exploring via aircraft

The grind isn’t too bad. Gathering resources is just tedious enough to keep the game from being ridiculously short-lived, but in general you don’t need to spend long boring hours mining or manufacturing or whatever.

The devs are still fleshing out a lot of build options that will lead to truly emergent gameplay, but with regular updates, I’m not worried about the game stagnating.

There is currently no PvP, which a lot of players find frustrating, but my experience with similar Early Access sandboxes suggests that if they released PvP now it would lead to a toxic community and stagnant feature development later, so I’m okay with the devs’ decision to keep it single player for now. I do hope they release multiplayer modes as the game nears release (I’m not at all sure that this is planned).

Immersion

A lot of landscapes look more or less like this…

Planet Nomads is very immersive due to a pretty good physics simulation, beautiful graphics, and excellent sound design. There are two things that damage immersion for me, and neither one is unforgivable.

The first is a surprisingly limited color palette in the environment. The planet is very colorful, but everything – especially at a distance – fades into a similar teal-and-indigo color scheme.

The other issue is that every biome has the same combination of wildlife. A larger variety of creatures, some of them biome specific, would be welcome. Instead, you see the same beasts from the hottest equatorial deserts to the frozen wastes of the poles.

I don’t mind the colors that much, and the devs will hopefully adjust the creature distribution and variety in future updates.

Recordability

For the YouTubers and streamers out there, I’d call this very good material with a lot of potential to be even better. There’s a lot of creativity to be found in build mode, which keeps getting better, and the ability to go literally anywhere on the planet offers a lot of variety in landscapes.

Price Point: USD $19.99

Currently the regular price is about $20 on Steam. I’m really cheap about buying games and almost never pay that much.

The game’s worth it right now. Having played it, I’d rebuy it at full value without hesitation, if I had to. With some significant updates, I’d even kind of hope the devs feel comfortable raising the price a reasonable amount.

Totally worth it. I recommend Planet Nomads wholeheartedly.

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Check out my Planet Nomads videos on Twitch!