Have you read the Martian? The book about the astronaut that gets stuck on mars and has to survive long enough to be able to go home? This idea of helplessness that becomes an efficient machine that means you can at least eat and drink while you go insane is a design that has been used frequently over the last couple of years in game development. It’s not a bad design as it gives the player the ability to create their own odds when it comes to survival and the possible goal of escape. Planet Nomads is at least one of those games that thinks things through enough so that your trip into the depths of insanity isn’t that bad because you’ve got a sweet moon buggy.
This sci-fi survival game puts you in the space boots of a poor unfortunate soul who is stuck on an alien world and has to survive. Simple as really. A lot of these games don’t really have an end goal and apart from progressing and getting to a point where you become self-sufficient and then stop and from what I’ve seen and played with Planet Nomad is that the game is in a similar boat especially because it is an “early access” title but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is a very enjoyable experience.
You’ll start off in an escape pod with only your multi-tool which will help you manipulate the land and get the resources to start building a shelter and the progression line makes a fair amount of sense considering you start with a small emergency 3D printer and then make the parts to the next stage and discovering more recipes just from building more things. Then eventually making bigger and better shelters and then vehicles, upgrades for your suit and so on. The progression here takes into account improving not just the conditions but you as the player as well. The building system that takes from that progression is intuitive and the fact that the snap “lego” style building lets players build huge and expansive bases with ease and more games should do this. It works for the player and as long as the pieces are there, any style of base is possible.
The player will be able to upgrade their suit and their multi-tool and create really cool moon buggies but then you’ll hit the wall which stops you from going further because you actually can’t unless you start the game again on a different world seed and that fact is made worse by the fact that this is an early access game. It’s a very well made early access game and is well optimised however the bane of games like this is that players will get to the end of the available content and would have to wait for a bit longer and that would be my advice. Later on this game will add new planets and biomes and more things to make and maybe there will be an end goal but that’s more of a personal gripe with games like this. Survival games that have an end point give you a goal to work towards. Games like the forest has an absolute end. ARK as a survival game has the goal of getting good stuff and taming the dinosaurs but as it’s multiplayer the goal is player driven. Single player experiences don’t have that kind of spark and to be fair I think once spaceships are added, multiplayer wouldn’t be a bad idea.
If you’re curious about an interesting survival game with easy to pick up systems and a fun progression and don’t mind the metaphorical wall of progression caps then Planet Nomad is something that should be considered for a potential addition to your steam library however if you’re like me and want that goal that isn’t just the loop of farm, make, sleep and then farm again then I’d say wait for a while until there is a bit more in there. It’s not a bad game by any means, just needs a bit more time to make it a great one.