I always feel like somebody’s watching me
Crash landing on an alien planet is the worst. There’s hazardous flora, deadly fauna, and even rock formations that seem to have some sort of blood lust. That just piles on top of the existential crisis of being a robot with an unknown purpose. Such is the existence on Planet of the Eyes.
I played through a couple of demo sections at PAX East. One showed off puzzles while the other demonstrated more action platforming. Both were rife with opportunities for robot death and dismemberment. At the very least, the planet is beautiful as it is repeatedly and mercilessly trying to kill me.
Indeed, the most striking element of Planet of the Eyes is its art direction. The vivid blues and purples and the sharp edges look amazing. In a conversation with Destructoid, writer Will O’Neill described the art design as retro futuristic, which is evident from the protagonist, a robot whose head resembles an old Polaroid camera. The planet itself is more organic, featuring the titular eyes on tendrils that just seem to want to watch the havoc.
Early on in the demo, the robot finds an ominous audio log from a gravelly-voiced man. Addressed to the robot, it hints at the bot’s function and at what the player might find on the adventure. It ends with an apology, perhaps in advance for all of the horrible deaths awaiting the robot.
The environment is hostile, and survival requires the player to be alert. A lot has been put into making the traps feel ominous, where a pillar teeters for a few seconds before crushing the robot or the ground slowly sinks away. With enough wits, the player can react and push through, but the tension of an imminent death is special in its own way.
The puzzle section featured fairly standard gameplay. I found myself pushing and pulling on objects to circumvent deadly obstacles, and sometimes setting in motion the very things that would crush or maim me.
The more action-oriented half of the demo focused more on precision timing over bottomless pits or spikes that seem to take pleasure in skewering hapless passersby. It betrays slightly loose control, where the robot seems slow to respond at times. With constantly toppling platforms it got pretty dicey toward the end.
Cococucumber has been quietly working on Planet of the Eyes for a couple years, and the studio is closing in on a final release. The puzzle platformer blazed through Steam Greenlight in just four days, and is set to come out in summer or fall of this year.