Planet of Lana – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle platformer
Developer: Wishfully Studios
Publisher: Thunderful
Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: PC

Planet of Lana – Review

Site Score
Good: Jaw-dropping audiovisual presentation
Bad: Gameplay doesn't reach its full potential
User Score
(14 votes)
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Rating: 3.8/10 (14 votes cast)

When we laid eyes on Planet of Lana’s reveal trailer, we were immediately enamored with the game. Nearly two years have passed since that initial announcement and Swedish indie developer Wishfully Studios’ highly anticipated debut game is finally here, courtesy of publisher Thunderful. Naturally, we were more than eager to explore the gorgeous hand-drawn world that was spread out before us. Having visited the titular Planet of Lana, we now return to tell you if the wait was worth it.


Just like was the case in Strayed Lights, which we reviewed recently, Planet of Lana’s story is told without words. Unlike that aforementioned title, however, Planet of Lana leaves less up to player interpretation and is rather straightforward in its storytelling. The titular Lana is a young girl living in a quiet and cozy village, alongside her sister and her adorable companion Mui, a creature that resembles a cat just as much as it does a monkey. When extraterrestrial robots attack the village and kidnap Lana’s sister, among many others, it’s up to our protagonist and Mui to save their friends. The game’s core narrative premise is simple and straightforward, but things are handled in such a way that its central themes, such as the relationship between Lana and Mui and the importance of nature preservation are highlighted.


If there is one aspect that Planet of Lana absolutely nails, it’s its visual presentation. This is a gorgeous atmospheric game, with stunning hand-drawn art. The 2D art style brings the works of Studio Ghibli to mind at times. The vistas are given ample room to shine, to the point that we found ourselves pausing every so often to admire every detail as the world unfolded before our very eyes. Juxtaposed against this are the characters themselves, who appear in a much simpler, almost minimalist style. The art style doesn’t stand in the way of the game’s performance either, of course, and we had no issues with visual performance.


Award-winning Japanese-American composer Takeshi Furukawa was tasked with providing the soundtrack for Planet of Lana, and this turned out to be a fantastic choice on behalf of Wishfully Studios. The cinematic score pushes the simple narrative to the next level, tying the visuals together beautifully, including a specific track that has English singing in it. There is also limited voice acting present, even though the story itself is told without words. You’ll hear Lana talk to Mui whenever you issue commands, although these are expressed in a fictional language. A particularly nice touch here is that Lana’s inflection will match whatever situation she finds herself in. If there is an enemy nearby, for example, she will whisper rather than speak loudly.


Being Wishfully Studios’ debut title, Planet of Lana sticks to the conventions of the genre when it comes to its puzzle platforming gameplay, instead relying on cinematic storytelling and those gorgeous visuals to draw players’ attention. The added benefit to this is that the puzzle platforming gameplay feels both intuitive and accessible. Gameplay mostly centers around making your way through a wide variety of scenic vistas, ranging from vast fields to lush forests. These are filled with obstacles to overcome, in the form of puzzles and enemy encounters. There is no combat present, and Lana will die in a single hit if a robot is able to attack her. As such, dealing with the myriad of robotic enemies that have invaded the planet mainly revolves around staying out of their sight. The game narrowly avoids feeling like a run-of-the-mill experience by the way Mui is handled, something we’ll get back to a bit later in this review. Still, we couldn’t help but shake the feeling that Planet of Lana perhaps plays things a bit too safe, resulting in repetitive puzzles and occasional awkward pacing.

If you’ve ever played a puzzle platformer before, you probably have a pretty good idea of what to expect here already. You’ll be dragging objects around to open up new platforming routes, aim to avoid enemies and obstacles, and deal with environmental puzzles. While the puzzles themselves shouldn’t pose a challenge when it comes to figuring out what to do, it’s the technical execution that comes up short occasionally. This is where Mui comes in. Lana is able to direct her feline companion to perform specific tasks, like reaching areas that the girl can’t reach herself, piloting a drone, and sneaking around stealthily. It’s a clever idea that allows for some much-needed variety to the puzzles, but directing Mui around feels clunky and inelegant. The game’s actual platforming action also feels a bit off, but that has more to do with how slowly Lana moves by design. Given that some of the puzzles require quick reflexes, this ends up being somewhat frustrating as there are unintentional difficulty spikes that have more to do with slow character movement than intricate puzzle designs.

Clocking in at around five hours, Planet of Lana definitely doesn’t overstay its welcome. We’re still on the fence about whether or not the brief length of the game is a good thing or a bad thing. The gameplay definitely doesn’t reach its full potential, as if Wishfully Studios was holding back on pushing the puzzle mechanics to its full limit. Had Planet of Lana been given more room to expand upon this, perhaps we would have appreciated the gameplay more. On the other hand, Planet of Lana’s core experience didn’t really do enough to really keep our attention throughout its runtime. Despite the short length and some interesting ideas, by the end, things were starting to feel repetitive. Admittedly, we are perhaps being a bit harsh on Planet of Lana’s gameplay but that probably has more to do with the expectations the developer created for the game compared to the final result.


Although Planet of Lana absolutely nails its audiovisual presentation, the gameplay drags down the game as a whole. The core experience plays things a bit too safe, and when Planet of Lana strays off the beaten path, things end up feeling clunky and unpolished. The result is a game that never fully reaches its potential. It’s almost as if Wishfully Studios was afraid to take off its training wheels. It’s a bit of a shame given how much of an audiovisual treat the game is, because we really feel like Lana and Mui deserved better. Hopefully, Wishfully Studios dares to take more risks when it comes to future releases.

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Rating: 3.8/10 (14 votes cast)
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Planet of Lana - Review, 3.8 out of 10 based on 14 ratings

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