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Planet Of Lana Review (PS5) – A Captivating But Lacking Adventure

Planet Of Lana Review (PS5) – Originally released in May 2023 for PC and Xbox platforms, Planet Of Lana is making its PlayStation debut with a release on PS5 and PS4.

This narrative-focused slightly-platforming, slightly-stealth sci-fi adventure takes you through the journey of a young girl doing everything she can to save her sister.

There’s a lot about Planet Of Lana that’s immediately easy to love, and a lot of that won’t go away during your time with it.

Still, even as a shorter, more focused experience, I found Planet Of Lana to be lacking in a way I couldn’t let go of, even after hitting the credits.

Planet Of Lana Review (PS5) – A Captivating But Lacking Adventure

A Moving Painting

Right from the get-go, you’ll spot the best thing about playing Planet Of Lana. It’s not any one gameplay mechanic or feature, it’s the visuals.

This game is stunning, and at its best times you’re treated to a visual spectacle that really makes you wish it had a photo mode, since that’s second best behind jumping through your TV and into Lana’s world.

Studio Ghibli fans will immediately notice that Planet Of Lana is clearly inspired by the seminal animation studio, and it’s a joy even to just sit, watch your screen and listen to the game world. It’s really that beautiful.

The game opens on Lana’s home village, and a game of chase with Lana’s sister, Ilo. What begins as another day in paradise quickly takes a turn for the worse however, when a robot invasion begins collecting everyone in the village, Ilo included.

Lana is left alone, and her journey to find Ilo and save her sister, begins. It’s not long after this that you meet Mui, the cat-companion that’ll stay by your side as Lana for most of the game, helping you solve small environmental puzzles along the way.

I won’t be digging much deeper into the story and the game’s lore, just as a means of avoiding spoilers. Yes, it’s almost a year old at this point, but not to players who only own a PS5/PS4.

What I will say is that Mui and Lana’s relationship is a charming one, though since her sister is absent for pretty much the whole game, having been abducted, I felt an odd disconnect between the characters I actually cared for, and the game’s ultimate objective.

Sure, rescuing Ilo is a nice thought and all, but it also sounds nice to just sit and enjoy the gorgeous views Planet Of Lana keeps delivering, petting Mui the whole time.

It felt much more like Lana and Mui’s story, which it basically is, but I felt it was one where the main objective was to actually find a way to defeat the robot invasion so Lana and Mui could live peacefully. Saving Ilo felt more like an optional side quest.

I felt this throughout the whole game, despite Lana consistently calling out to Ilo throughout the game, almost like it was a reminder about what you’re meant to be doing on this adventure.

That said, the emotional moments between Mui and Lana still landed with me well, and I’d add them both to a list of video game characters I’d just like to sit and chill with.

Cinematic Platforming

Planet Of Lana wastes no opportunities to create a cinematic moment, including during it’s more platforming-focused sections. It’s appreciated, because even when the gameplay isn’t really engaging, it still looks good to execute.

Planet Of Lana is much more about the story it’s trying to tell than it is about introducing unique gameplay mechanics for you to master. Most of the game is you running to the right side of the screen, making a jump or two in-between.

It’s also mostly you solving simple environmental puzzles that all just boil down to finding how to continue going right. None of these puzzles are particularly difficult, and none of them are also incredibly engaging.

My favourite puzzle focused on a repeating melody you hear from the robots, where you had to recreate the melody by adjusting the notes played on five pipes.

This involved finding the answers for the right configuration within your immediate vicinity, and the way it came together was probably the most I enjoyed any of the puzzles.

Mui was also charming enough that even outside of my preferred puzzles, when it was on to more simpler tasks of asking Mui to knock down a rope so I can climb to to the next platform, I was still having a good time.

Sneaky And Fragile

Beyond the platforming and puzzling, there are plenty of small stealth sections that combine the former listed gameplay features with needing to avoid robots that’ll kill you immediately, should they catch you.

These sections add a bit more tension in that you can easily fail and have to restart them, but by design they’re never trying to provide such a challenge that your progression may be blocked by any one of them.

Something that does help change it up is that you’re not always sneaking around the robot invaders, at times it’s the planet’s wildlife you’re avoiding. There just isn’t enough variety however in what these sections ask of you to make them feel much more interesting by the time you get to the end of the game.

These challenges not exactly elevating from beginning to end felt very much like a missed opportunity, and was a huge part of what made the gameplay overall feel boring by the end of my time with it.

Even though, as I pointed out before, it all looked good to execute due to Planet Of Lana’s cinematic focus.

Slow And Monotonous

The biggest culprit though for my feelings of boredom came from the simple fact that Lana moved far too slowly. It’s clear that Planet Of Lana is taking inspiration from games like Inside and Limbo, but I don’t remember either of those characters movements being so slow and sluggish.

I know there’s a good chance I’m wrong about that, and if I were to go back to either game I’d realize that Lana isn’t going any slower than how you move in those games.

But that wouldn’t change the fact that Lana feels slow and sluggish to control. I don’t need Planet Of Lana to have a designated sprint button, but I was constantly wishing she was made to be just a touch faster than she is.

A little extra speed could’ve gone a long way in making platforming sections a touch more intriguing, the stealth sections that much more engaging, and the few chase sections at different points in the story that much more exciting.

I understand that Planet Of Lana is meant to be a slower game, I just wish it wasn’t as slow as it is.

Captivating And Lacking

Planet Of Lana is an incredibly captivating game, which is why if you’re a fan of narrative-focused adventures, you absolutely should play it. The artistry on display when it comes to the visuals and the soundtrack both make it worth your time.

Lana and Mui are also a charming pair that you won’t regret the time you spend with them, especially since it should only take you somewhere between four and six hours to hit credits. It took me about 4hr30min to get through my first playthrough.

Something that also really works to Planet Of Lana’s advantage, it doesn’t wear out its welcome too much, and if you want to go for a completionist run, it’s very possible to do that in one playthrough.

However even that short play time can’t ward off feelings of boredom brought on by gameplay that just doesn’t have enough variety. There are small snippets of bigger spectacles involving a different gameplay, but those are too far between to feel like they are shaking things up meaningfully.

All that said, I still believe you should check out Planet Of Lana now that it’s available on PS5 and PS4, for its amazing art design, charming characters and touching narrative.

Just don’t expect the gameplay to rock your world, or anything like that.

Planet Of Lana is now available on PS5 and PS4.

Review code generously provided by publisher.



The Final Word

Planet Of Lana is a captivating narrative adventure, with a stunning visual design and cinematic focus that will leave you desperate for a photo mode, or hoping a new technology will appear that lets you jump right into the games world, and experience the wonderful vistas of Lana's home planet alongside her and Mui. The gameplay however doesn't include enough variety to keep things interesting all the way through to the credits, even with a short runtime. But if you're someone who leans more towards the narrative in a game anyways, then Planet Of Lana's touching story, charming characters and (once more for emphasis) beautiful and stunning art style, you absolutely must play Planet Of Lana.