App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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If you take a quick look at A Planet of Mine, you might think that it's a clicker. You'd be wrong though. A Planet of Mine is more like a 4X game in the vein of Sid Meier's Civilization than it is something you idly tap on. It's not a game that makes the rosiest first impression either, but for anyone that takes the time to really dig into A Planet of Mine, they'll find a rewarding strategy experience.
In A Planet of Mine, you start with a spaceship, a handful of resources, and a couple workers on a random planet. Using these tools, you need to build a civilization, which involves building homes to create new workers, scavenging the land for natural resources, and eventually creating structures and researching technologies that allow you to reshape the planet you are on and even travel to (and colonize) new ones.
All of this is accomplished using a simple, but effective, 2D planetary interface that shows you the entirety of your planet and its goings on as it makes its planetary rotations. Most things in this view are accomplished by clicking on sections of land or dragging and dropping workers onto specific points of the planet. You can also speed up time by rotating your planet by hand, which is a nifty tool for when you're trying to simply mine mass amounts of resources. Overall it's a very intuitive control scheme, though it can occasionally feel a bit clunky.
If you simply want to play A Planet of Mine to grow and expand an empire of space chickens or any of the game's other anthropomorphized creatures, the Free Mode lets you do exactly that, though that doesn't just mean things will be a cakewalk. Resources in A Planet of Mine are scarce, to the point where you can run out of food for your people, over-mine pieces of land, and even pollute your planet using fossil fuel power plants. Unlike a clicker, A Planet of Mine's numbers don't just continue to go up. You have to make sure that they do or face potential extinction.
Of course, this is likely something that you'll learn after your first play session with A Planet of Mine, as the game's tutorial is terrible about teaching you much about the game's mechanics. It simply glosses over the main controls and then basically leaves you to fend for yourself. Thankfully, the game offers a manual that you can reference as you play to learn more about structures, resources, and more, but even this guide could use some better explanations and clarity about the finer points of the game.
Survival of the fittest
Beyond the game's Free Mode, A Planet of Mine also has a host of challenges that players can take on. These give additional objectives to complete beyond simply building a civilization and can be anything from “mine three of the rarest resources in the game” to “turn a planet into a literal Death Star.” These challenges add a lot of replayability to A Planet of Mine, but almost all of them are only available if you purchase the game.
If you play A Planet of Mine without paying, you are limited to a couple of the game's races, a limited form of the Free Mode, and only one challenge. Though this may sound like a severe limit on freely available content, rest assured, there is plenty of free game here to enjoy. The Free Mode lasts up to 300 planetary cycles, which is no short amount of time, and the challenge offered can take even longer to complete on its own. If you play these two modes and decide you want more, A Planet of Mine is happy to offer it in the form of mini-packs of content for $1.99 each or a Galactic Pack that unlocks all the game's content for a single $4.99 purchase.
The bottom line
A Planet of Mine does not make a good first impression. It feels slow and confusing, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that it's a strategy game that happens to look like a clicker. It also has a poor tutorial that doesn't do a good job of explaining what you should be doing or why. But, if you stick with the game, comb through its manual, and spend some time figuring it out, you can uncover a great little 4X game.