Imagine Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day combined with Starship Troopers. You’re stuck in an endless loop fighting aliens without an end in sight. Battle Planet – Judgement Day is a roguelite top-down shooter where you’re on the run from bounty hunters and aliens. In your constant attempt to survive, you’re disarming bombs, fighting giant bosses, and shooting every moving target. This is our Battle Planet – Judgement Day preview for PC on Steam.
Battle Planet’s story is short and sweet in that you’re an escaped prisoner from a transport ship that crash-landed on a planet. Someone isn’t happy you survived even though you’re happily ever after isn’t exactly so happy since you escaped to a planet with hostile aliens. In an attempt to kill you, police, military, and aliens are all a persistent threat to keep you on your feet. Anything from giant gross acid-spitting creatures to SWAT is after you.
A large part of how Battle Planet stands out is its unique camera perspective. It focuses on a top-down camera angle of your character, which isn’t anything too out there yet. However, the camera follows your character spinning the planet as if the world revolves around you. It creates an unusual dynamic between shooting at aliens close to you and zooming around the curve of the planet simultaneously. Bullets are suddenly passing each other around the curve.
The gameplay of Battle Planet gives off a Helldivers vibe since it’s comparable to a twin-stick shooter. The difficulty ascends slowly with primarily melee aliens pecking at your health bar. The game progresses in difficulty through waves with a set of waves per planet. In between planets, escapees can acquire randomized perks, unlock new abilities, and upgrades for their equipment.
The developer Threaks keeps Battle Planet interesting by ramping up the difficulty, unlocking new weapons over time, different events per wave, and unique bosses. One of four different possibilities may happen in each wave. The most common one is disarming bombs sent to either blow up your planet or blow you up in the process. This wave type has you racing the timer to disarm each bomb while dealing with the usual assault of enemies.
The other wave types are a bit more simple with a focus on staying alive and killing anything in your way. First, surviving for a set amount of time. As simple as it sounds, you have to survive everything the game throws at you until a timer runs out. Second, a certain number of enemies are after you and you have to defeat them before moving on. And then the big one, the boss wave.
Each wave consistently grows in difficulty and each wave type has its own method of keeping the action flowing at all times. This is what makes it easy to lose track of time in Battle Planet. The brief breaks in between planets by escaping to a trader are the only time you can take a breather.
The trader shop implements a mechanic I see in some roguelikes and RPGs, similar to Rogue Legacy. Battle Planet follows a similar path by having the player unlock permanent upgrades for each playable character. This can be anything from upgrading the damage on your starting weapon to upgrading your movement speed. While it can take away from the constant challenge of every run, it makes it easier to get further and experience new challenges. Whether it’s a new boss or content you couldn’t have reached previously.
I always find roguelikes benefit from daily runs where people compete against each other for leaderboard positions. I don’t expect any major changes this far from release their planned September 2019 release, but it’s still an idea I would welcome. It’s a good way to set the terms of each run so everyone is on the same playing level.
Battle Planet has a leaderboard where it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time playing or your thirtieth run with every upgrade. It creates a leaderboard where the top player isn’t necessarily the most skilled, but perhaps the one with the most upgrades. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it can be odd. It primarily encourages people to play more, unlock upgrades, and push for those top positions.
Each of the three characters in Battle Planet provides their own approach with a unique movement ability and their own stats. This gives each player a chance to find their own preference and what works best for them. That can be the balanced stats of the Raider or the agile movement of the Spy. The third character shall stay secret for now.
The Raider’s unique movement ability is the jetpack. The jetpack makes it so they can fly over hazards such as lava and simultaneously get around swiftly. The Spy’s movement ability is my personal favorite, being able to teleport in a straight line in any direction. This blink ability frequently gives the setup to dash through walls away from danger and get to bombs in a rush.
The only real complaint I have with Battle Planet is an audio issue that I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s fixed by the time it releases. Sporadically, the sound becomes dulled and quiet which can be a bummer in a twin-stick shooter with constant action.
Battle Planet tends to be a tame bullet hell until the late waves where all hell breaks loose. The random perks and bosses of each run are where the creativity shines because you never know how that run will end. The most exciting part of any roguelike and most frustrating part is reaching a new area with new enemies. Battle Planet is no exception by regularly throwing new enemies and bosses at you to mix it up.
- Difficulty scales at a good pace.
- Timed events keep the action flowing.
- Interesting boss and enemy variety.
- Main menu is designed for consoles, not PC.
- Special weapons feel worse than the default.
A key for Battle Planet – Judgement Day was provided by the developer for the purpose of this preview.
Compare To: Helldivers, Nuclear Throne, Rogue Legacy