Some may call Shattered Planet a roguelike, others may call it a roguelike-like. Whatever side of the fence a gamer may fall on, everyone will agree that this is a survival-exploration RPG. Originally developed for iOS and Android, Execution Labs and Kitfox Games have brought their procedural death labyrinth generator to the PC, and soon the Mac as well.
With the blight consuming all planets in the galaxy, humanity has traced the location of a possible cure to the age-old ruins of a broken planet. This is where the player steps in, exploring the planet and destroying the indigenous creatures in the name of science. The shattering of the planet has created a multitude of floating islands in the sky. Any one could contain the key to the survival of life as we know it.
Yes, all the maps in Shattered Planet are procedurally generated. This basic requirement of roguelikes is neatly fulfilled by having small masses of land connected together by short walkways. Combat is turn-based. For each action the player takes, whether that be moving, attacking, or using an item, all the creatures on the map get to take a turn as well. Littering the floor are an assortment of flasks whose content is randomised with each game. A red container may heal the player during one game, then poison them the next. The goal of a basic game is to explore each map in the search for the teleporter to the next area, striving to achieve a greater distance with each new clone that is sent to the planets rather fragmented surface.
Along their travels, the player will begin to fill out their datalog. This is a record of all the different enemies, equipment and biomes that the player has encountered during their time with the game. Every fifteen discoveries, the player gains a research level and unlocks a reward, such as a new class to play on subsequent exploration attempts. There are several categories of discoveries, including pets that the player can obtain by convincing one of the local hostiles to join them. To prevent players from combing every inch looking for new discoveries, the blight will be forever on their tails. Starting from the same location as the player, the blight will slowly corrupt tiles adjacent to itself, damaging the player should they walk through it. The blight can also corrupt or spawn its own enemies.
What may cause some people to say Shattered Planet is actually a roguelike-like is down to the fact that the player can keep some progression in between exploration attempts. When not risking the life of yet another clone on the surface of the planet, the player has the use of the facilities on a rather cosy space ship. Here currency found on the surface of the planet can be used to synthesise a random piece of equipment. As the player gains research levels, new facilities are unlocked for use. Here the player can purchase permanent stat enhancements for their current class, or perhaps clone one of their pets unlocked during exploration.
Ultimately, the player is trying to build up their character over time to take on more difficult challenges. Along side the exploration mode are three different ‘story’ modes. These are the same basic game with random maps, but each have a goal that the player can accomplish for a reward. These different modes also contain unique entries in the datalog, so anyone wishing to fill their lists out will need to venture into these difficult areas.
The last game type is the daily challenge. This is randomly generated map is the same for every player on the day it is attempted, and may only be played once a day. Here the the player cannot chose what items to take with them and is instead given whatever items are chosen for the map that day. The player can still chose their own class, along with any training that class may have received, so veterans are more likely to do better. Still, for a randomly generated single-player game, it is great to be able to compare attempts with friends. To aid in this, the game has the ability to tweet scores built into it.
Shattered Planet began life as a mobile game, and it shows in its graphical style. All the art is detailed and colourful, and as smooth as they are, each unit only has a couple of different animations; resting, attacking, and moving. Currently equipped gear is reflected in the character model. The player customise the look of their character class, but this is usually hidden by the armor equipped.
Fans of the roguelike and RPG genres may be interested in Shattered Planet. Death is no major setback, and the persistence of character upgrades allow players of all skill levels to eventually tackle the harder content. Daily challenges allow players to compete against each other, and like Spelunky, the results can be posted to various social media sites for the world to try and beat. The game can get a little repetitive, but skill will allow player to push on to new areas.