You can head back out and retrieve your loot, which sometimes includes the option to "shamefully" bury your mangled corpse. Alternatively, you can boot up the Javelin's computer -- which has a primitive desktop interface, frequent screen flicker and a loading bar that glitches backward before moving forward again -- to read some emails before tackling another mission. These include a note from the Monocorp First Galactic Bank of Commerce, which is somehow "delighted" to share that your balance is now -$492,237.
"While this level of debt may seem substantial, with your recent promotion to Intergalactic Explorer -- combined with its accompanying two-percent bump in annual salary -- we can now project that you will likely be free and clear of debt in as little as 47 years," the message reads. "This projection represents a significant step down from your previous projection of 51 years and puts you well above average in terms of debt elimination among the general population."
Thankfully, the game offers more than comedic charm. The planet is split into beautiful biomes that surround a mysterious tower at different elevations. To satisfy your employer, you need to explore each region and find the teleportation hubs that connect to the Javelin and, eventually, higher and more dangerous biomes. A simple compass at the top of the screen indicates the direction and distance to your current objective. While that's invaluable, it's on you to chart a path through the planet and figure out the exact destination.
The correct route often requires a surprising amount of platforming. As the game progresses, you'll slowly unlock gear that lets you double jump, grapple and grind around the environment. You'll also discover a shuriken-shaped seed that you can throw on select plants to create a custom grapple point. The highest biomes require a delicate ballet of jumps and grapples -- both with predefined grapple points and those created with seeds -- to traverse. While it never reaches Mirror's Edge or Dying Light-levels of parkour complexity, it's fun and immensely satisfying to move around without touching the ground.
You have a mission -- to explore the planet and investigate its seemingly manmade tower -- but there's no ticking time bomb or save-the-world apocalypse to deal with. That means you can ignore the main quest line at any time and poke around the world without E.K.O or anyone else questioning your actions and telling you to hurry up. It's a similar vibe to No Man's Sky and other space exploration games that prioritize puttering about over Halo-style action.
Relaxing detours are not only encouraged but required if you want to complete the game's numerous side quests, which include finding rare alien alloys, fuel sources for your ship and edible orange goos that raise your maximum HP. They're also necessary if you want to complete your role as a cartographer. Pressing up on the D-pad (or tab, if you're playing with a mouse and keyboard) will bring up an X-ray-style overlay that highlights missing items in your encyclopedic Kindex. You can fill in the blanks by moving your on-screen reticule, holding down R1 (or the Z key, if you're on PC) and waiting for a small meter to fill.
Relaxing detours are not only encouraged but required if you want to complete the game's numerous side quests.
Completing this task will often reveal humorous descriptions about the planet. The section on the health-restoring vitality plant, for instance, reads: "They're drugs. What, you thought eating a big orange berry is gonna cure your gout? They're not miracle fruits, they're hallucinogens." The cartography process sounds simple, but some creatures will run away, teleport or burrow underground like a mole. Locking on for long enough can be tricky, especially if your target has decided that your flesh and bones would make a tasty meal.
If you want to stay alive, you'll occasionally need to fight back. Slaps and kicks aside, your main weapon is a plasma pistol with unlimited ammunition. You can craft various upgrades, including a faster reload and supercharged shot, but you won't find a shotgun or any other firearm on the planet. Instead, you'll have to rely on exotic fruit -- bombegranates, blight bombs and shock fruits -- to increase your combat options. At first, these items will defuse as soon as you pick them up. With the right space suit upgrades, however, you can stow a handful of each fruit and throw them whenever you like.