During PAX West this year, I was able to stop by the Apogee booth and check out a few games. One of the standout titles was Residual, a procedurally generated, resource gathering and exploration platformer. This game was created by Pascal, the single game developer for the company, Orangpixel. With each planet you land on being procedurally generated, there is a ton to be discovered here and potentially hundreds of hours to be spent in this world. Your goal is to explore the planet you land on, discover resources and survive until you are able to repair your ship and lift off from the planet and go on to discover a new one. It is really pretty cool that this was created by one person.
When you first start the game, you pick the avatar, and then you are trusted into your first planet. You have a small floating robot as a companion. I was excited to hear that this companion was voiced. It adds more character to the game since there isn’t much other dialog in the game. The bot also gives you tips and tutorials as you play. All of your equipment and tools will be the same no matter what type of planet you land on but some of the creatures and landscapes may vary. Depending on what planet you start, there are also different hazards that you may encounter. During my playthrough, I decided to create different save files so I could get a good look at different environments. One planet seemed pretty docile when it came to the different creatures while another planet had a huge Tremor-style monster. This is a game without combat or weapons. The goal is not to fight the creatures you discover but learn about them and avoid them if they cause harm.
When traversing through the world, you will have a large arsenal of tools to discover and use as you explore. As you uncover the secrets of the planets, more tools are recipes are discovered. For example, there were different places that I couldn’t access because they were too high but as I collected more vines and wood, I was able to learn the recipe to craft a ladder. There is a tad bit of ‘metroidvania’ in Residual. As you unlock more tools and skills, different parts of the planets are accessible to you. The game does a good job of not making this feel exploration and discovery feel repetitive.
As I mentioned before, Residual is a survival game as well. You have to constantly monitor the energy in your suit, your hunger, and your health. If you get too caught up in exploration, you could potentially run out of energy and pass out. This takes you back to your ship and you have to traverse back through the dungeon to get to where you were previously. The developer doesn’t leave you high and dry here. There are a couple of things to help you on your journey. When you first start the game, you are given a teleporter. It is smart to place one near your ship and keep the other one ready for when your energy starts to get low. Also, you will eventually learn how to craft a bonfire that will increase your health and energy without needing to travel back to the ship. There were a couple of times where I fainted and I wasn’t sure why. I wasn’t sure if I just wasn’t paying attention or if it wasn’t communicated in the game. This did not happen that often so I won’t knock it too much. The more I play the game, the more fun little survival elements start to pop up. I won’t spoil too much but just pay attention to your equipment, surroundings, and how different things in the environment are affecting you.
If you enjoy games like No Man Sky, Animal Crossing, and Terreria, this is the game for you. There is an unlimited amount of worlds to explore and playing Residual is almost calming. The various dungeons are really cool to explore and the puzzles spread throughout the maps don’t take me out of the experience. There is a ton of replayability in this survival exploration game and if you want more of a challenge, feel free to turn on the permadeath option. With each planet, there are new puzzles and secrets to discover. There were a couple times during gameplay where I feel I may have locked myself out of being able to complete a planet but, it is quick and easy to jump back in to a new playthrough. Residual is a charming survival exploration game created by a person that is clearly passionate about his craft. You can follow the journey of Orangepxel, you can follow the Youtube channel. If this is your type of game, I urge you to give it a try. You can grab it on PC and Switch for $19.99.