It’s been a while since I previewed Planetoid Pioneers, and the game has finally released out of Early Access. Created by Data Realms over the course of eight years, I should preface this review with the fact that I haven’t really dabbled with the Crush 2D game development engine packed under the bonnet.
If you’ve ever wanted to create a game yourself, Planetoid Pioneers is probably a good step towards that goal. It has a fully featured game engine, the aforementioned Crush 2D, which they used to create the main game, and left in place to allow people to make whatever they want in the Steam Workshop. However, as I mentioned in my preview, I’m not the person best suited to create things. Give me too much freedom, and I’ll just not do anything - give me a good outline, or story to follow, please.
Despite this, I spent over 10 hours going through the single player content (technically multiplayer, because you can have up to four pioneers playing at once). Planetoid Pioneers has received a lot of changes and fixes, and even voice acting, since Early Access. That meant that I knew how to get through the first quarter of the opening planetoid, but after that I was finding new things and redesigned areas. Basically, you’ve crashed and need to scan things to build up the blueprints on your scanner/constructor device - which scans things as it breaks them into their component parts. Everything you make requires different amounts of metal, water, carbon and silicon - whether it’s weapons, vehicles or backup bodies for when you die. Some things (like the ship you need to build to get off of this planetoid) require more than you can hold at once. It can get challenging to partly construct something, only to have to wander off to get enough of whichever element you’ve ran out of.
The first planetoid used to have roughly four hours of content, but now it’s easily doubled. There are more gadgets to find, and enemy types to scan as you explore the tunnels beneath the surface for spaceship parts. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even find all of the hidden tunnels, though I’d be hard pressed to know where else to look.
Speaking of looks, I really like the graphical style they went with. It’s like playing with a comic book, and the enemy and vehicle designs that come with the game are really good. The soundtrack is pretty short and plays on repeat, so after a couple of hours I just turned it down and had my own music playing. It’s not bad, but it’s definitely repetitive. Luckily, the gameplay being metroidvania means that it doesn’t get repetitive, even as you’re retracing your steps to get back to where you died, because your latest backup body was miles away.
Once you’ve built your ship and escaped the first planetoid, there are 10 other planetoids to explore, each with their own specific purpose, including one blank planetoid for you to redesign however you wish. These extra worlds are really only there to show you the kind of thing you can make with Crush 2D, which is fair enough. It definitely feels like Data Realms wants the majority of the game to be created by the community, and since the engine has so much versatility, that’s certainly a possibility.
If you’re looking for a game that you can play from start to end, then Planetoid Pioneers doesn’t quite give you what you’re looking for. However, if you want to play and create with Steam Workshop items, such as Mega Man’s Air Man, then there’s a lot of things to check out here. There are even a few planetoids made by the community, though hopefully more people will get on to making those instead of just pioneers. Make sure you check out some guides, and get into planetoid crafting!
Planetoid Pioneers (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
If you're looking for a game to get your creative juices flowing, then definitely check this out. If you're looking purely for single or co-op gaming, then probably wait for a sale.