— Planet of Lana (@PlanetofLana) May 3, 2023
Developed by a newly formed Swedish studio, Planet of Lana is Wishfully’s debut game and what a banger to kick start its portfolio.
The story of Planet of Lana is a subtle one, but no less impactful as you progress through this endearing story of kinship, self-discovery and adventure. You play as a girl named Lana, who lives on a once-peaceful planet full of wonder and harmony. However, when the planet is invaded by an unknown entity of alien machines that appeared from the sky, Lana narrowly escapes abduction and is left alone, or so she thought.
Lana’s sister and seemingly everyone else on the planet is taken, leaving her homeworld feeling as beautiful as it is desolate. About to embark on a journey to save her sister, Lana encounters an unexpected friend named Mui, a loyal cat-like creature that will become the hero every bit as much as Lana herself.
Never wandering into the outer wilds of her home village, Lana is about to discover that the alien machines are not the only threat in this world. Lana and Mui must work together to overcome deadly foes and challenging obstacles if they are to not only save the sister but save their homeworld from the threat of annihilation.
So what is Planet of Lana? To label this into a simple genre, it’s a side-scrolling, action-adventure puzzle game, yet, despite its simplistic nature, it’s a game oozing with charm and charisma. It’s kind of like what Limbo would be with a colourful palette and a side-kick by your side. Thankfully, you’re not being stalked by a creepy spider, but that’s not to say that Planet of Lana is not without threat, and that includes some of the skin-crawling variety.
In fact, its moments of dread caught me most off guard, but with any form of tension, it’s heightened by the element of surprise, so I’ll leave those encounters for your own discovery. Those moments of dread don’t happen too often but are used sparingly, which allows you to take in Planet of Lana’s environmental storytelling as its mystery unravels chapter by chapter.
While Planet of Lana is pretty much a non-combative game, this is no ‘run and hide simulator’. The player will have to utilise their best stealth skills if they are to avoid the alien creatures and the other dangers of the world. Sometimes you might have to hide and wait for the perfect moment to move on. Other times, Mui might be required to distract an enemy or perhaps even lure them into a trap.
Lana and Mui will rely heavily on each other which no doubt contributes towards translating the story to the player. In some ways, Lana and Mui’s bond reminds me a little of PlayStation 2 classic, Ico.
Despite having next to nothing in terms of dialogue, Planet of Lana tells a captivating story that will begin its connection with the player from the get-go. Much of its subtle story is also aided by the audio cues as well as its enchanting soundtrack that provides an added layer of tranquillity, enchantment and danger at precisely opportune times.
From the moment you begin the journey in Planet of Lana, you will be instantly won over by its stunning visuals and mesmeric ambience, but once its tale truly begins to unfold, you’re going to want to see Lana and Mui’s story through to the end. If I was to have one criticism, well to be fair, it’s more of a desire. For a game as beautiful as this one, having no photo mode is a missed opportunity. Hopefully, that might come at a later date.
I was hopeful that this indie delight from Wishfully would win me over, but I’m so glad that it actually exceeded my expectations. Planet of Lana is one of the most charming, wonderful and endearing games that you’re going to play this year. It’s a game that most certainly is on your to-do list for 2023 and better still, it’s on Xbox Game Pass. So, go and pick it up already.