Back in the day, FPS games were super different
They were super fast paced and were mainly focused around tough enemies and clever level design since multiplayer wasn’t nearly as much of a thing as it is now. These kind of FPS games created a more challenging and rewarding single player experience and were incredibly fun. Lately, these kind of games have been making a resurgence both with the original IPS and with homages to them.
Lovely Planet Arcade is akin to these old-school games of the genre. Sporting a super minimalist art style, Lovely Planet Arcade has a plethora of relatively short levels that seem to be as focused in solving puzzles as well as its fast twitch based reaction gameplay. Though the game does remove the ability to aim your gun vertically, which takes a good amount of getting used to, and while it doesn’t make a huge difference, if you’re like me, you’ll occasionally find yourself getting annoyed by it. While on the topic of minor annoyances in Lovely Planet Arcade, there is no ammo; your character will simply do a cocking animation and then you’re right back in the fray. This wouldn’t be bad at all, but since there is no need to manually reload, the developers decided to use the R key to instead reset the level if you messed up a puzzle, and there are no enemies around to kill you. Now let’s get one thing clear, the reset key is incredibly useful; it’s just that if you instinctively press the R key to reload like I do and you accidentally reset the level when you’re doing just fine, it can get pretty frustrating. Of course, you can rebind the key so it’s not a huge deal, I just thought it would be worth pointing out so any of you guys can avoid it.
As I mentioned earlier, this game has a very minimalist art style, and this game is a bit too minimal. If the game had more detail in some places, I’m sure it could have fixed some of its issues. One of the main issues that comes from this is that there are times when an ally character will be somewhere in the level needing to be saved, and when that happens, the way to differentiate an ally from an enemy is a little gray heart on their chest. When you first see this enemy, you’ll shoot them without any knowledge of what this heart means and you’ll fail the level, but that’s not a huge deal since you’ll make that mistake once and learn from it. However, the problem lies with the fast paced nature of the game. If you quickly turn around and shoot this enemy right away, which will happen, you’ll fail the level and that’s hard to get used to. If the ally was simply a different color than the enemies, it would be much easier to react to. The minimalist art also makes it a bit unclear of what things are right away, like a big red blob on the floor being something that burns you or a big purple oval being a portal to another part of the map. Once you realize what these are, you can adjust accordingly, but you’ll only be able to tell by testing them out. Simply adding some smoke to the red blob or some specs in the purple portal would potentially make it easier for the player to identify, creating a slightly more cohesive game design.
The highlight of Lovely Planet Arcade is the fast paced combat combined with the puzzles of the levels. It gives the game a surprising challenge to it and makes it really satisfying to combine your reflexes and intellect to blast through a stage as fast as you can. The gameplay isn’t too deep but has enough variation in enemy design and challenging puzzles that it keeps the game refreshing to play play through. Sadly, the game lacks polish. The enemies don’t have sound effects when they fire their guns or for explosions, there’s only one shoot and reload animation, making it feel repetitive, and there are times where it’s hard to differentiate enemies and allies – and that’s the problem with this game.
This game has potential to be pretty good, but it just doesn’t have enough there. There is just not enough polish to this game between the art style, combat and even the music, which is charming but is just small repetitive loops. The game does have a really low price point, so it’s worth checking out if you want to play a decent game for a bit, but if you’re looking for a game that will really engage you, then I’m afraid this game falls just short.