It’s No Man’s Planet

HIGH A solid gathering and crafting experience.

LOW It’s hard to decipher the graphics at times.

WTF Won’t that robot ever shut up?!?

Residual is a 2D pixel-based survival crafting title.

After crash-landing on a strange planet, the player is tasked with exploring, looking for resources to craft and construct new things (the usual axe, fishing rod, etc.) and finding food to survive. The overall experience is nonviolent, as there is no fighting or any guns involved.

On our adventure we’ll be accompanied by PDB, a snarky ‘bot that feels the need to comment on the player’s every action while also incessantly repeating the same lines over and over again (“Your stamina is looooowwwww“) which can definitely become grating. Luckily, he can also be helpful by pointing out things to pick up and by giving info on how resources can be used.

Orangepixel’s title randomly generates a planet for each new run, even though I wouldn’t definie it as a roguelike since little changes in the player’s approach each time. While there may be as many as a thousand variations on the same theme, I didn’t see huge differences between them. Also, the overall objective and mechanics of each run are always the same, with the player tasked with finding metal, coal and other resources to repair their ship before being able to escape, which is indeed our main goal.

Sleeping and eating are requisites, as they are in our daily lives, and these vital tasks can be easy or difficult depending on the biome generated. My first had few berries to pluck and had me struggling at the very start, but in such case, a quick restart with a more favorably-created planet solves the problem.

The UI is simple, with a few screens indicating each type of resource and what they do. However, I kept getting confused even after two hours of play because of how each screen is not only small in size, but also because they’re all very similar to one another. It’s quite easy to inadvertently press a button on the wrong screen, making errors and wasting time in the process.

As far as the controls go, they’re… weird. Moving the character around and jumping is mostly fine, but climbing a ledge requires keeping the jump button pressed and then repeatedly pressing up which goes against the intuitive methods ingrained in me by other titles. Things also feel floaty and the character seems to be lightly influenced by inertia, which is a strange choice since this is clearly not a platformer.

Graphically, Residual has little to offer. On display are colorful (but basic) 2D pixel graphics that can be quite hard to decipher on a big screen. In terms of audio, I appreciated the option to choose between an ambient soundtrack or a planet’s ‘natural’ soundscape.

Orangepixel’s title might best be appreciated by casual fans of the genre looking for a solid (but mostly vanilla) crafting and resource-gathering experience that doesn’t include combat. Personally, I didn’t find much value in scouring for materials the same way a hundred other crafting games do, and the odd controls, murky UI and rough graphics don’t do it any favors, either. There are better choices in the genre.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Orangepixel and published by Apogee Entertainment. It is currently available on PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Switch. Approximately 4 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: The game is rated E by the ESRB. Considering the overall non-violent content and lack of sensitive content or salty language, the game can be played by a general audience. However, considering its overall difficulty I would recommend it to a teen audience, at least.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All dialogue in the game is subtitled, but text cannot be altered or resized. No audio cues are needed for gameplay. In my view, the game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The controls are remappable, and there is no control diagram. Jump is weirdly mapped to X (which is definitely counterintuitive!) A for action and B for cancel. The directional pad is used to move the character around.

Damiano Gerli
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