+Graphics used provide a strong cinematic experience
+Provides high replay values even with only four core-missions for the first episode
+Unique heroes, each offering their own experience with each lobby
+A Triple-A experience from an indie developer
+Solid gameplay mechanics featuring gun play, hero-based abilities, and cover systems
-Alternate skins range from 5-20 bucks a pop
-Queue times can, at-times, exceed 5 minutes.
When I first was introduced to Raiders of the Broken Planet, I had prepared myself for another tactical cover-based shooter, that I would uninstall quicker than I’d enjoy it. After having played through plenty of them through the Xbox 360 era, I had already had a gut feeling I knew what I was getting myself into with MercurySteam’s newly released ‘episodic’ indie game. Little did I know, my assumption was completely wrong, and it would have cost my dearly for thinking of this game as just another Gears of War clone.
Cover-based shooters are nothing new, however. We’ve experienced them quite heavily in the last decade thanks to Microsoft, Epic Games, and The Coalition. Games such as Binary Domain and Shoot Many Robots tried to do the same, but only failed in one-upping the long-run franchise. But here comes Raiders of the Broken Planet a game that can’t be compared to any of the above titles. Truth is? It’s nothing like them.
Raiders of the Broken Planet isn’t your typical third-person-shooter. It urges core mechanics utilizing team building and team composition’s for each of the games missions.
Due to the games unique approach to combat, players will find themselves taking combat with multiple approaches ranging from melee to the use of stealth. Since the game does currently host an active roster of six characters, with another half-a-dozen in the works, players will find themselves coming across a few rather recognizable tropes from the hero genre. Characters come with their own roles such as the snipers Harec and Shae while Konstantin plays the inevitable role of the games currently active tank. Characters such as the newly announced Mikah will take on the role of the deceptive assault class where she will approach combat more uniquely than the others.
As stated, each character comes with their own unique loadouts where they will approach combat differently. Herc is most notable for his ability to teleport to a vantage point where he can pick off one enemy at a time with carefully placed headshots. While slow and heavy, Konstantine is a tank-like powerhouse. Compared to the others he has slower movement, but higher health, and an ability that allows him to create a protective barrier around his allies, pushing enemies back from them.
While shooting and abilities play key roles within the game, melee comes to the forefront when it comes to gaining ammo and health. Since recovery and ammo-based item pick-ups aren’t available, MercurySteam has implemented a brawling system that plays much like a deadly version of rock-paper-scissors. Due to the dangers of brawling, players will find themselves in unique predicaments at close quarters. Because of the R-P-S approach, grapples beat dodges, dodges beat strikes, and strikes beat grapples. Due to how punishing this system is, you may find yourself wanting to carefully plan out your attacks, and utilize your team when playing in cooperative play.
While tanks such as Konstantine surely have their own unique approach to brawling due to higher health, don’t let this fool you as skilled snipers are just as lethal, able to take out their enemies before skirting out of combat into the corners of the maps once more. Because of this approach, character abilities are important, but sadly, all of them are a bit more situational than other class-based systems. Konstantine, as stated, is a tank, and his ability allows him to throw enemies away from his team and luckily himself. Because of this defensive ability, it’s best used when the team is surrounded and needing room to breathe.
Unlike Konstantine, Alicia is a bit more unique in the fact she is fast, lethal, and uses her shotgun to her advantage. Because of her being a close range character, Alicia has been gifted the ability to wall-jump, allowing our blue-haired foul-mouthed protagonist a get-out-of-jail free card. On the opposite end you have the elusive sniper Shae. Shae has a unique ability that allows her to cloak herself from her abilities within her line of sight, allowing her to escape combat, and line up for the perfect shot, which can dispatch enemies quickly in both 4v1 and solo play
To counter the fact that each character has their own unique abilities, I’ve yet to see one that boosts their own damage or even their teams, making this one of the most uniquely balanced experiences I’ve had in such a title. Luckily, this also leaves plenty of room to talk about some of the games other core mechanics, something not often done for such titles and one of the funnest things to do.
As a part of Raiders of the Broken Planet, the games cover system plays an important role, just as it does for any tactical shooter. As expected, you’ll be able to use almost any piece of your environment to your advantage, allowing you to calm your characters heartbeat so they can’t be as easily targeted as they would be during action. This mechanic is known as ‘stress’ and should be carefully managed due to the fact it allows both enemy NPCs and players to locate you based upon your actions. Since cover does play a role in the game, using it to reduce ‘stress’ is a key role as it also allows you to manage your health after taking too much damage, and entering a crippled state.
Going into cover serves as a way for players to heal themselves, plan out their next attack, and even damage enemies as they prefer. Sadly, this doesn’t always work as enemies will hunt you down due to your ‘stressed’ state. If this happens, players will be executed and forced to use their teams Aleph resources, which are limited, and can be used up sending players into an even more deadly predicament than before due to the time it takes for their Aleph resources to be refilled. The most important note about ‘stress’ is the character you choose. Some like Harec and Shae are extremely ‘zen’ focused characters, allowing them to move, fire, and even run without stressing out.
Characters such as Alicia and Konstantine are so hopped up on the games stand-in for narcotics, Aleph, that they are always stressed out, and will always be seen throughout the games terrains. For Alicia, this is the price she pays as she is able to quickly move across the map leaving others behind. However, what happens when you see that green blood vein style outline across the map? Undermining your plans is just what that person has, the invasion of another player – the Antagonist. Unlike players you are working with, the Antagonist works completely differently.
His or her ultimate goal is to stop you from succeeding in your missions. To counteract the fact there are multiples of you, the Antagonist has a special feature on their side. They can sabotage you, blow you up, or even work with the A.I in helping cause you to fail your missions. What’s the most astounding part of this? Their attempts to stop you can be foiled. While they do have infinite respawn’s, your team has their own advantage at focusing upon this player. You can easily tear them down apart with concentrated fire. Doing so will take them out for the count, burning their health down to nothing, and forcing them to endure longer respawn times.
The best part of the game? I truly enjoyed the chance to take on the role of the Antagonist. As a highlight of the game, I decided to take on the role of Harec, using the map to my advantage so that I could find a vantage point and lock in a few solid headshots. Getting my chance, I was able to pick them off one at a time, using my partnered NPCs to my advantage as they were able to keep my enemies busy. Because of this, I was able to ensure that my survival was key and that my enemies were kept busy while I let boss-type characters keep the busy and dispatched them one at a time.
For all intents and purposes, Raiders of the Broken Planet is an intuitive game, one that takes on satisfying combat, meaningful choices, as well as a universe rife with lore. While MercurySteam has only released the first episode of the season, we still have more to go, and it’s noticeable that this indie team has poured a huge amount of time, resources, and their own love for what they do into this game.
Raiders of the Broken Planet – PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $9.99 per episode/$39.99 per season
Unless you were playing it, Raiders of the Broken Planet could be considered a typical third-person shooter sci-fi title. Once you are playing it and getting into it, that drastically changes as Raiders of the Broken Planet is anything but typical. It brings new ideas into a long-run genre, and hits the mark without missing a shot, making this one of the most unique titles in the current age of gaming.
Our review is based upon a retail version we were provided by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.