To many, the promise to wipe out humanity is undoubtedly an appealing fantasy. Saving the world from disaster and total extinction might be an equally appealing, if slightly less exciting fantasy for many of the same people. With Project Planet: Earth Vs. Humanity, you and a group of your friends are given the option to do either. While the game certainly delivers on the cinematic aspect of the world ending, you may find that the gameplay side of this party game is lacking in the kind of depth you might want in an apocalyptic simulator game.
Right off the bat, you may look at Project Planet and assume the same thing I did. That this is a souped-up, advanced version of games like Pandemic. And from the description, that’s what the game promises. You can play against friends or AI as either the planet itself or multiple facets of civilization, to wipe out or defend humanity. Again, a strikingly similar concept to games like Pandemic, but with the promise of added depth beyond just controlling a virus.
Unfortunately, Project Planet steps away from what could be a strong simulator/strategy game and goes in what my opinion is a bit of a waste of their strong concept. See, rather than a turn-based strategy game or something akin to what you probably imagined from the concept, Project Planet is a party game. If you’ve ever played a Jackbox Party Pack, you’ve got an idea of what to expect from Project Planet.
Now, that isn’t to say that Project Planet is a bad game, or even that it fails to execute on its premise. You’ll still get planet-destroying (or saving) mechanics in this decision-based game. I just found myself a bit disappointed with how condensed the premise is by the choice to go down the party game route. You aren’t getting the depth you would expect from a full-fledged strategy experience.
A game of Project Planet starts with the prompt to open your phone and enter a code at the Project Planet website. As is the case with most party games, one copy can be used with up to five screens so an entire group can play. The game itself acts as a monitor for the group to watch as they play, displaying the game’s information and whatnot while individual controls are assigned to player’s phones.
One player takes on the role of the Earth, which is a sort of king of the hill type position with access to powerful abilities. Your goal as the Earth is to use these abilities, which are viruses, earthquakes, etc, to make the planet inhospitable and wipe out the human race. Other players take on the roles of multiple facets of the human race to try and stop the Earth from wiping them out.
These roles are World Leaders, Industry, Scientists, Media and the Populace, and as you can imagine from these names they represent vastly different groups with different roles to play in protecting humankind from extinction. For example, World Leaders create laws and regulations while Scientists research cures to the problems that plague humanity. Each player has their own role to play and their own responses to the decisions Earth forces them to take.
A round begins as the Earth uses some of their resources to create a disaster, and then each human player responds in accordance. New dilemmas spawn as a result of disasters and decisions and create a sort of branching path narrative through the game. Working together is key to stopping the Earth player from completely wiping humanity out.
While the game can be played solo, I found doing so failed to capture my attention at best and was a little tedious at worst, having to jump between the game client and my browser to interact with the game. It is most certainly a game you want to play with a group of people and the pacing and depth of content is designed around this. You’re just simply going to have more fun around the couch with a group of friends then you will playing against the AI. True for most games, sure, but I wouldn’t really recommend Project Planet’s solo experience.
What the game lacks in deep, engaging gameplay it makes up for in presentation. The game features a number of cutscenes as you play, which depict news reports, press conferences, web articles, and more which give the impression of a real-world report on the grim situation going on in the game. The plentiful use of these cutscenes add some real entertainment value to the game, again upping its value as something to be shared around the couch. Constant parallels to real-world events, however, can make the game a little heavy on political commentary which can get grating fast.
Though this may be something not everyone agrees on, I found the grim nature of the game and how straight its played fought against the party game vibe it was trying to go for. Without any real humor or light heartedness you might expect in something like a Jackbox game, it felt sort of like a grim slog through truer-than-fiction extinction events. Not exactly my idea of a game night, but to each their own.
The Final Word
If you’re looking for a Friday night game to play with a group of friends over Discord or around the couch, and you have a particularly grim compulsion, Project Planet: Earth Vs Humanity might be the game for it. The easy accessibility for multiple players and the abundance of cutscenes make it a great game to experience with a group. However, if you’re looking for a more focused strategy experience, you’d be best looking for another title.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Project Planet: Earth vs Humanity is available on Steam.