Were I to diagram my feelings towards A Planet of Mine in terms of progression from first opening the game until now, itâ€™d look like a V – meaning it went from high to very low and back up to high. The quirky visual style caught my interest at first. Then I played myself into a corner and got annoyed. Then I tried again with a slightly better understanding of what the game wanted me to do, and things went a whole lot better. Iâ€™m back to liking the game now.
A Planet of Mine is sort of like a space empire expansion sim (think along the lines of Master of Orion and such), but way simpler and with more of a focus on how you develop/colonize planets. Iâ€™m okay with that. Stuff like resource management, population management, and tech trees are present and accounted for, but theyâ€™re simplified to the point where something like acquiring a larger workforce is a simple matter of building more houses or upgrading existing ones. Itâ€™s a system that works quite well once you get the hang of it.
One problem is that getting the hang of it can be surprisingly tough. There is a tutorial in place, but it doesnâ€™t do a great job of explaining everything. For example, the game says resources like trees and edible plants will grow back over time. Thatâ€™s great. What it doesnâ€™t mention is that they only grow back if you avoid harvesting them completely — you actually have to stop harvesting for a little while every now and then to make sure you donâ€™t totally deplete them. This is made worse by depleted resource areas still showing the remnants of what used to be there (i.e. a silhouette of trees, mountains, etc). This lead me to believe that trees and such would grow back after being harvested, but nope. Hence my first game ending in a frustrating lock as I completely ran out of wood and couldnâ€™t build any new structures to aid in my empireâ€™s expansion.
My second attempt, as Iâ€™ve said, went a lot better. Not only did I learn (the hard way) not to frivolously spend resources, I also realized that there are some very subtle interface cues that show things like how many workers can be assigned to a task (small dots at the bottom of a particular slice of land) or how close a given resource is to being depleted (a sort of pie chart that gets smaller and smaller as the metaphorical well runs dry). Figuring this out has made a huge difference, to the point where Iâ€™m actually back to enjoying the game quite a lot.
I also have to admit that I was a little unsure about the gameâ€™s free-to-play elements at first. There are a lot of races and game modes that arenâ€™t available without making at least one in-app purchase, which had me thinking Iâ€™d quickly get bored with what we do have access to. Thankfully even just the basic â€śLimited Spaceâ€ť challenge mode (earn a 50K civilization score as quickly as possible) offers plenty of replayability thanks to the random planet and solar system generation, coupled with having a handful of playable races to start with. Heck, you donâ€™t even have to pay for the full unlock ($4.99 for everything) if you donâ€™t want to. A single in-app purchase of any of the three species packs ($1.99 each) will unlock all of the game modes. So thatâ€™s a thing to consider if you actually do find yourself in need of a little more variety.
Itâ€™s amazing how much of a difference knowing how to play properly can make. After my initial attempt I was ready to write A Planet of Mine off as a frustrating mess. Now that Iâ€™ve finally gotten the hang of it (no thanks to the tutorial) I actually kind of love it. If you like your spacefaring empire expansion simulations cute and (relatively) accessible, itâ€™s absolutely worth checking out. Maybe even a purchase.