REVIEW: Planetoid Pioneers

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

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oprainfall | Planetoid Pioneers
Title Planetoid Pioneers
Developer Data Realms
Publisher Data Realms, LLC
Release Date April 15th, 2016
Genre Early Access, Adventure, Indie, Action, Racing
Platform PC (Steam)
Age Rating n/a
Official Website

Planetoid Pioneers tosses you onto 2D planetoids to explore in a Metroidvania-like manner and play with physics. You can gather resources, scan new things, and craft items for which you have blueprints in an attempt to eventually escape the planetoid you’ve crash landed on. There are other types of planetoids to play as well. Do you have what it takes to escape the starting planetoid and more?

Planetoid Pioneers | The Primoid

This is the Primoid (the main adventure planetoid) zoomed out as far as possible.

The main adventure planetoid, known as the Primoid, tasks you with exploring, collecting resources, and scanning things to discover new blueprints. You’ll need to get new blueprints to be able to build new things like planks, boxes, ramps, vehicles, weapons, and more to eventually escape this planetoid that you crash-landed on. The five small bars at the top-center of the screen show your resource stockpiles. You are limited in how much of each resource you can carry at once, but it’s fairly easy to get more.

You can move around with the A and S keys (the game also has gamepad support). Left mouse button fires your atomization ray (to scan objects and gather resources from them simultaneously). The W key jumps while S makes you prone. The arrow keys can be used to change the angle of your head lamp if your character has one. Your starting character can die but you can find blueprints for other pioneers and spawn one, which you can switch to if your current body becomes too damaged. If you don’t have a spare body crafted somewhere in case you die, there are also save points. If you’ve reached a save point, you’ll respawn there (otherwise it’s game over).

Planetoid Pioneers | The crafting screen.

The crafting screen is opened by right-clicking your mouse. Your blueprints are organized by category.

The crafting screen organizes your blueprints by category. The partial category contains blueprints you have not finished unlocking yet. When you scan a new object that has a blueprint, it is added to the “partial” category. Each time you scan more parts of this object type, a bar will fill (the white bar in the screenshot above). Once you’ve scanned enough of that object type to fill its bar, it will be a completed blueprint. At that point it gets moved to the appropriate category and you can then spawn objects of this type.

Simply select the category on the left and then the object. A blue ghost image of the object will display in the world near you, which you can move around with the mouse. Right click to place it. If you don’t have enough of one or more resources to build it, you can only partially build it. You’ll need to get more of the required resources and then come back and right click and hold on the partially built object to finish constructing it. You can use construction objects like planks, ramps, etc. to reach otherwise inaccessible places. Eventually you can get vehicles that help you travel a bit faster.

Planetoid Pioneers | Constructing a ramp.

Constructing a ramp.

On the Primoid, you’ll need to explore the planet and venture deep below ground to find new objects, like vehicles, and additional types of pioneers to play as (like the skeleton shown above). You’ll also need to find ship parts to scan so you can eventually finish a ship blueprint, which will let you build a new ship and escape the Primoid.

There are enemies standing in your way, though. They include birds, crab-like things, skeletons, and more. If you have a gun equipped, one type of bird will snatch it and fly off with it (dropping it in a nest area sometimes). You can craft another gun if you have the resources and then teach that thief a lesson! You can also scan objects you’ve built yourself to take back resources from them, too.

Planetoid Pioneers | Selecting a planetoid to play on.

Selecting a planetoid to play on.

There are a number of other planetoids you can play on. The planetoid selection screen shown above appears when you start up the game after a lengthy loading screen. It should be noted that Planetoid Pioneers is still in early access. Some of the planetoids have been created by players, too. However, if you really want to create custom content and be a part of the game’s development, you’ll have to spend extra to buy the Planetoid Pioneers Contributor’s Edition. If you have the Game-Only Edition, there is DLC to upgrade it to the Contributor’s Edition should you wish to.

This helps ensure quality content and the developers have said that once the game fully releases, the built-in editors will become available to those with the Game-Only Edition of Planetoid Pioneers. So even if you only buy the much cheaper Game-Only Edition, you will eventually have access to the game’s built-in editors and be able to create custom characters, planetoids, and more for Steam Workshop. So there is no need to get the Planetoid Pioneers Contributor’s Edition unless you are truly serious about being involved with the game’s development.

Planetoid Pioneers | Racing around the Racetoid.

The Racetoid tasks you with racing in a vehicle of your choice all the way around this planetoid, with multiple paths.

The controls in Planetoid Pioneers are very simple and easy to use. The pioneer characters you control are ragdolls, and their clumsy movement is amusing at first. Later on it can be annoying at times, as it makes life trickier. For example, if you want to stand right on an edge (to scan something below perhaps), it’s easy to accidentally fall off of it. Falls and enemy attacks do damage to your body, and the game shows this in a very nice way. For example, when you are playing as the Crash Dummy pioneer, he starts looking like more and more of his paint has been scraped off. It’s a very nice touch. You can also have limbs get broken off, and you’ll want to switch to a new body when that happens. For example, you can’t use a gun if your arm is missing, and of course walking doesn’t work as well with a leg missing!

The game has some very nice music tracks that sometimes play, and the sound effects get the job done quite well, too. The art style is also very pleasing to take in, with a somewhat cartoony look that is also very richly detailed from the characters, to the ground, and the backgrounds. The gameplay is fun and sometimes also rather amusing thanks to everything having physics simulation. Shoot a flying enemy, and it plummets to the ground. Shoot it some more, and it might break into smaller pieces. Scan them and you can eventually spawn the creatures once you get their blueprints. As for the plot, the story is only very loose and varies from planetoid to planetoid, along with your goals. In this way its a bit of a sandboxy game, especially since players can make custom content for Steam Workshop.

Planetoid Pioneers | The Help screen.

Pressing your Esc key or the appropriate gamepad button opens this controls window/help screen.

Planetoid Pioneers is a pretty fun and cool little game from the makers of Cortex Command. The Primoid alone can take 10-20 hours or more to complete, depending on how much you play around with physics or building. There is no time limit so you can do whatever you want and progress at your own pace. The Racetoid is a much quicker level to play as you just need to successfully race a lap around the planetoid. You may fall in tunnels and have to drive through them, too. Planetoid Pioneers is available on Steam for $9.99 for the Game-Only Edition. If you want early access to the game’s built-in editors so you can be part of the game’s development, its $29.99 for the Planetoid Pioneers Contributor’s Edition. The DLC to upgrade the Game-Only Edition to the Contributor’s Edition is $19.99. Planetoid Pioneers promises endless content once it fully releases, and everyone gets access to the game’s built-in editors. Do you have what it takes to be a Planetoid Pioneer, building, racing, and messing with physics to reach your goals?

Review Score
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Review Copy Provided by Developer

About Michael Fontanini

Michael is a veteran gamer in my early 30s, who grew up around video games, with fond memories of the oldies like the NES and SNES. He loves Nintendo but also plays a lot of games on his PC. Michael also enjoys going for walks or bike rides, and loves animals.

Michael is also a computer programmer. This started with a toy he got as a kid called PreComputer 1000 that was made by V-Tech. It had a simple programming mode which is what started him down the road of being a programmer! Michael can program in BASIC, Visual Basic, C++, C#, and is familiar with Java and Lua Script.

Putting programming and gaming together, Michael became a hobbyist game developer which may give him some good insights on game development! Most recently, he has been playing with the free version of the Unity engine (a powerful and easy-to-use game engine).

I love Nintendo but I also play a lot of game's on PC, many of which are on steam. My favorite Nintendo game's include Zelda, Metroid, and Smash Bros to name a few. On PC I love the Half-Life games, as well as most all of the Source Engine games just to name a few.