April 21, 2014 5:45 PM | Lena LeRay
Shattered Planet is available as a free to play mobile title right now. It has a purchasable currency which is used to buy equipment before each run, though you can get by without buying any, if you want to. Kitfox Games is well aware of the fact that PC gamers generally prefer a different kind of gameplay, however, and are currently reworking the game as a premium title in which everything can be unlocked through play.
In Shattered Planet, you are a clone sent down to explore a dangerous, changing planet in the name of science. Everything you encounter, from new equipment obtained to enemies defeated, gets recorded as a new discovery. At its core, the game is a pretty standard procedural death labyrinth; you move on an isometric square grid with each movement or action taking one turn. Enemies drop currency and/or experience when defeated, and you keep going until you die. Along the way, you might find mysterious liquids (each color having randomized effects on each playthrough) or a vending machine with equipment you could purchase in it.
There are some other types of encounters possible in the field, though, which can get you stat upgrades, free gear, or even a creature sidekick that will help you fight and respawns with you after you die as long as the creature itself doesn't get killed. You can also find vending machines, each of which has two pieces of equipment for sale. You don't get to keep anything in your inventory when you die, but when you get back to your headquarters you can use your experience to upgrade stats, change your look (with both genders and a variety of looks for each represented), or buy new gear. For the mobile version, you choose an amount of currency to spend at the equipment generator and get back something random, with its overall strength influenced by how much you spent to get it.
There doesn't seem to be anything revolutionary about Shattered Planet, but it is a quality game with a lot of humor to it. Every item or enemy logged has a funny description for it. The occasional obvious pop culture reference, such as a helmet that looks like a Star Wars clone trooper helmet and reduces accuracy, adds to what is a fun game to start with. And although it's free to play, it's not free to play in a punishing way. You can buy more of the currency needed to generate equipment and you can pay to unlock extra aesthetic options for your clone, but the game is wonderfully free of choke points designed to extract money from your wallet.
According to Tanya X. Short, Kitfox Games' creative director, the mobile versions of Shattered Planet are being treated as free to play demos of the premium version to come. "We see the free to play version as a fine mobile release, but for premium PC gamers, they would probably rather pay up-front and not worry about it as they play. So rather than paying to unlock character skins in the PC version (for example), they will be unlocked through progression and achievements. Additionally, since PCs can better-handle high-res textures, we want to have more story elements."
When asked if Kitfox Games plans to change the random equipment generation out for something less random as part of the switch to a pay up front payment model for the PC version, Tanya said, "We're almost certainly going to be adding more controls to the equipment synthesis -- for starters, a way to selectively create helmets or weapons. It will probably unlock as a result of progression, but we're still figuring out the details."