Title: Planet Stronghold
System(s): Windows, Mac, Linux
Release Date: February 28, 2011
Publisher (Developer): Winter Wolves (Winter Wolves)
ESRB Rating: N/A, I’d say its best for ages 12 and up, since there’s violence, some innuendo and lots of reading.
Pros: Can play a hero or heroine, each gender has multiple romance options, achievements available, multiple difficulty levels, difficulty can be changed at any time, can skip seen text, multiple character classes, can save at any time, get extra weapons if you buy the optional strategy guide, multiple side quests, psionic points gradually refill in battle and you can look up information on enemies at the lab. Leveling up certain skills may provide different solutions to problems later in the game.
Cons: Sometimes achievements don’t always trigger or, if they do, they might disappear. Even the easy difficulty level is quite difficult. There is also the occasional (but rare) spelling and grammar issue. Battles can become tedious after a while.
Overall Score: One thumb up and one thumb down, 78/100, C+, * * 1/2 out of 5
Winter Wolves game has, in the past, focused on visual novel and simulation games. Now, the company is branching out with its first RPG. Planet Stronghold is a sci-fi adventure set in the future on a distant planet where humans have begun to colonize and settle. It still maintains classic visual novel gameplay and offers the romance options Winter Wolves fans have come to expect, but also offers RPG battles and exploration.
From new recruit to possible savior of Planet Stronghold.
Planet Stronghold stars Private Nelson (Joshua or Lisa, since players choose the gender), a new army recruit who has been assigned to the human base on Planet Stronghold. Planet Stronghold is a notorious outpost for humans, and Nelson is puzzled why he/she would be stationed there since only the best and brightest soldiers are considered for positions. Apparently, it’s because of his/her last name. A famous far hero by the name of John Nelson was responsible for making Planet Stronghold what it is, and Nelson might be related to him. Hurray for nepotism!
While Planet Stronghold is supposed to be secure and a shining example of humans’ achievements in space, something unsettling is brewing. Shortly after Nelson’s arrival, training robots attack. Then, Prince Cliff may have been kidnapped from the main station by an alien race called the Marada, which is odd as all the alien races on Planet Stronghold were supposed to be eliminated years ago. Throw some human rebels into the mix, and Nelson will have to make a lot of difficult decisions to bring peace back to the planet.
Interactions and choices are interesting, if you can tolerate the difficulty.
With Planet Stronghold‘s sci-fi themes and emphasis on choice, it’s inevitably going to be compared to Mass Effect. The feel is the same, the player is a strong, capable man or woman who ends up in charge of a crew whose decisions will have a major effect on the lives of everyone living on the planet. The story is well written, with a few minor twists, and it’s nice to see there are multiple endings and even multiple romance options for both gender.
Planet Stronghold is a very straightforward visual novel and RPG hybrid. Players will typically be given missions and tasks. Some will require you to go around the human’s base on Planet Stronghold, talking with influencial figures and occasionally taking part in a battle or two. Others will send you to the desert wasteland planet, where you’ll have to explore areas, occasionally fight more battles and investigate areas for quest items or points. The game lightly toys with the issue of time, which is interesting, but the deadlines never seem too demanding since time only advances if you have Nelson and his or her party rest.
The main issue with Planet Stronghold is that it is so difficult. I decided to play on the normal difficulty level and after seeing my party wiped out repeatedly, I had to switch to the easiest level. Even that didn’t help. There’s a gauge next to characters picture in battle that indicates how much damage he or she has delivered, so you have an idea who will be attacked. Without fail, the enemies will initially gang up on the hero or heroine character, then move on the party member with most filled gauge. Expect to see at least one character get knocked out each battle, even on the easiest difficulty level. This means that instead of being fun, battles are tedious and feel like work. You’re tempted to avoid them whenever possible, which only leads to more trouble later on when you encounter stronger opponents.
An interesting alternative for Mass Effect and visual novel fans who enjoy level grinding
Planet Stronghold isn’t for everyone. It’s a good game, but it’s also quite challenging. This may disuade beginners or typical visual novel players, who may not be accustomed to level-grinding characters, seeking out extra battles and carefully managing character equipment to keep everyone at their best. I’d almost liken it to a sort of Mass Effect junior. It isn’t as large in scope, with as deep a plot or as many intricities, but it has a similar feel and can be a novel distraction. If you have the patience to withstand the difficulty level, it could be a potential purchase for you. Your best bet is to sample the free demo, as it offers a good indication of what the full game’s experience.
Site [Planet Stronghold]