Planet of the Eyes is a side-scrolling platformer from a little known Canadian developer called Cococucumber. After only a few minutes, most gamers will sense the similarities to games like: Inside, Limbo or Monochroma. You make progress, solve simple puzzles and most likely die a lot. It’s that trial and error gameplay that keeps gamers engaged while at the same time not being too overwhelming. While overall the game is very enjoyable, it has similar drawbacks to the more celebrated games in the genre. Did these Torontonians come up with an out-of-this-world hit? Or is Planet of the Eyes better left to the dark void of space?
Playing as our robot main character, it’s clear that you have crash landed on an unknown world. With your ship ablaze, your only option is to venture forward. The only company you have comes in the form of voiced audio logs from your creator. When not listening to that somber voice, our main character must solve puzzles and make well-timed jumps to eventually reach the conclusion (which I won’t spoil). Our robot character does not talk, but he is incredibly vulnerable to predators and environmental dangers. More memorable parts of the game have you “surfing” on hot lava as it traverses some rocky terrain, or using a swarm of insects as a distraction to pass a hungry predator. None of this is ever too difficult and most gamers will be able to finish the game in one sitting, likely under 90 minutes.
Controlling our character feels good and along with jumping he can also interact with switches, push and pull objects and swim. It’s quite simple in a “everything just works” manner, I had no issues with the controls although occasionally I mistimed jumps and died. There are a few moments where pinpoint precise movements are required, but nothing that held me up longer than a handful of attempts.
Graphically, Planet of the Eyes is simple yet very pleasing. There is great use of blacks and purples to define dark areas; these contrast nicely with bright orange lava or red laser beams. Once you get started there are no loading screens, this helps lend itself to a nice continuous flow of gameplay. Should you die, generous checkpoints put you right back into the action. The music is enjoyable as well and fits the desolate, isolated space theme nicely.
There really isn’t a lot more for me to say about Planet of the Eyes. It is an experience that I enjoyed thoroughly, but it’s very short and there is not much replay value. It has vibrant art style, controls well, has good pace and a great price at $9.99 USD. I experienced this world and story, earned my 1000 gamerscore and I’m content with the experience; I just won’t be back for a second play through. For fans of games like Limbo or Inside, this is a no-brainer of a purchase.