Swedish indie game studio Wishfully makes an impactful entry into the games industry with their debut game Planet of Lana. Inspired by the artistic styles of Studio Ghibli films and gameplay drawn from games like Limbo, Planet of Lana is a visual feast for the eyes.
Lana is a young girl fighting for survival as her planet of residence is taken over by hostile alien machines. During the invasion, Lana’s sister plus other residents of the planet are kidnapped by the aliens, sparking a rescue mission. Lana stumbles upon a nimble and adorable cat-like creature named Mui. Together, the duo navigate different terrains across the planet searching for the distressed villagers.
Mostly left up to interpretation, the deeper narrative offers only a handful of lore pockets to explore, leaving the player to fill in the missing pieces by observing the landscapes. I am in love with the Planet of Lana world, I just wish I knew more of the history behind the planet we are traversing.
Gameplay mechanics are similar to that of Limbo, with thought-provoking puzzles and light platforming to get past enemies. The playthrough introduces different mechanics at just the right time to prevent it from feeling repetitive. Planet of Lana is a short game, so it makes sense that there are not a large amount of mechanics thrown into the mix. I do think the variety of puzzles could have been slightly greater, particularly towards the end of the game.
Mui is controlled using a point-and-click mechanic allowing it to reach high ledges that Lana is unable to, as well as use levers and press buttons. I quickly developed an emotional attachment to Mui and felt a sense of personal responsibility for it. Dread filled me every time I led Mui to its death. They aren’t brutal deaths, but it hurts all the same.
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Artistically, Studio Ghibli is one of my favourite animation studios. They have such a distinct art style which Wishfully has beautifully translated to the video game format. Before researching Planet of Lana, I instantaneously knew the inspiration behind it. Everything is hand-painted, with breathtaking landscapes and imagery presented flawlessly through the use of camera pans. I often found myself stopping to enjoy the scenery multiple times throughout the 3-5 hour journey.
The cohesion between the striking art style and the harmonious melodies in the soundtrack are a treat. The music is so subtle at times that it really amplifies how alone Lana and Mui are on their adventure. Have a listen to “Cave Mural” below and you’ll see just how beautiful the tracks can be.
Wishful has created a stunning and enjoyable adventure that will have everyone just waiting to see what’s next for them. For a development studio to enter the ring with such a high standard of work is a strong feat.
PLANET OF LANA REVIEW
Planet of Lana takes everything we love from Studio Ghibli and Limbo and infuses it into one of the most breathtaking and exciting indie game experiences of the year. A must-play indie title.
Has some of the best art direction I’ve seen in recent years
Music and landscapes are cohesive
- Free on Game Pass
The puzzles in the last hour of the game felt repetitive
A short game. I didn’t want it to end so soon
Some extra bits of lore to understand the world better would have been great