Review: Alienation (PS4)
The earth has been invaded, Aliens have taken over and humanity has one last chance to take a stand. You belong to a special army unit looking to get one over the Aliens and while the situation is dire, there is still hope. This is Alienation.
Alienation does not have a unique plot, the earth invasion has been done before, but that doesn’t even matter because what Alienation brings to the table offers far more than what the simple plot would make you think. Simply put, the guys at Housemarque know what they are doing.
There’s an Alien in my pocket
Alienation is an isometric action twin stick shooter with RPG elements to it, put plainly. In the game you have the option of three classes (image above) each with a unique set of abilities and depending on which of the skillsets appeal you can pick your favourite. You then head to some basic training which shows you how to play the game. Nothing is ever too complex, though there is still a lot of depth to what you can do and it’s this balance that sets Alienation apart.
In-game you have three main weapons (that unlocked as you go). You have your submachine gun, a heavy weapon and a special weapon. This can range from plasma shotguns and revolvers to flamethrowers and machine guns, each presenting a new advantage over the alien enemies. And believe me, you will need every advantage you can get. You will be armed with a 4th weapon which will be your grenade, landmine or even a boomerang, again something that becomes very useful the deeper you head into the game. You also have have a set of abilities like a cloaking device, a special melee attack, an airstrike and a few other little surprises which help along the way. Depending which class you take this will change, but the idea remains the same and blending the different attacks will be paramount to your success.
There are so many different weapons that you will have to try all of them to see what you are most comfortable with, but as you progress they get more varied and better designed gaining even more advantage. You can upgrade weapons too, which adds to their effectiveness – meaning that your selection is ever evolving.
Play with all the aliens
Alienation has a similar layout to Helldivers in that you play in an isometric view with the entire level mapped out below. I must be honest and say, that even with the type of camera used I found the environment to be gloriously pretty to look at whether on the streets of Brasil or in a battleship in the middle of nowhere. The level designs are so well put together and the depth of design is even more remarkable.
A warning though, don’t think for a second that you will really get enough time to take things in. There are enemies just about everywhere on the levels with numerous different Aliens wanting to take you out. The variety is as great as the numbers with lots of different aliens with different abilities and attacks, meaning you can’t just go in gung-ho whenever you like… and just when you think you have cleared out an area you will get attacked by an invading horde of enemies, making you grit your teeth because of the intensity. It helps that you have all your different attacks at your disposal but it can still get a bit crazy at times and making sure you lay traps or use the correct weaponry is of utmost importance.
The actual mission structure in games doesn’t change much. Most of the time a mission will have you moving from one point on the map to another to find something, or to destroy something and then once you have completed the objective you will need to head to an extraction point to get the hell out of there.
The levels do change things up though, so don’t assume that it will get repetitive. Different enemy types, different obstacles and different mini boss battles change the pace considerably where needed. The added horde invasions and challenges on each map add the extra bit of spice needed to keep things moving.
Of course one of the most important things in this kind of game is the loot. I have already mentioned all the different weapons you can acquire but there are also the upgrades and different materials that can be found to get modified weapons. Everything you find on a level will help you improve and increase your XP level to take out those harder enemies later on.
Common, rare, legendary weapons… Alienation has it all for your stock expectations when it comes to types of weapons and the abilities upgrades grouped with the weapons make it a worthwhile investment when it comes to spending your skill points.
Defeating the Alienation… Together!
Alienation definitely benefits from its co-op capabilities. I sadly didn’t have friends that I could play the game with (courtesy of it being early review) but the ability to drop in and out of another person’s game (and for them to drop in to yours) was an absolute pleasure. Taking on the enemies with up to 3 other players added a completely new dimension to the game, and a new layer of craziness with all the action and explosions, something Housemarque deserve great credit for. It is must be noted, though, that there is no option for couch co-op so if you are planning to play locally, you can count that right out. Pity.
It didn’t matter who dropped in and even without any comms the game is perfectly playable with others, something I hope to get a lot more of when other people buy the game followings its release. Then there is another option where you can invade, or have others invade your game at any time, and create some serious havoc. With the few people playing the game already Invasion barely happened to me, but it did add a nice element to the game.
There’s more alien where that came from
The main campaign is roughly 7 hours long depending on which difficulty you choose and how many people you play with. There are three difficulty levels and each offers more reward than the other, so choose wisely. Though I will warn you that even on the medium difficulty things can get damn hard playing alone.
There is tons of replayability though once you finish the main game and getting your character to level up and take on the harder enemies, as well as finish other challenges you may have missed is well worth the time and effort. You, of course, have the option to try out the different classes too which adds more to the game.
Lastly, there is a whole section of end game ‘challenges’ to take on when you finish the main campaign… but the embargo email very kindly asks us not to divulge what actually happens. Just know that there is a lot of game to be had when you finish the main game, lots of variety, lots of action and LOTS of chaos making it the complete package.
That’s one pretty Alien
Alienation has a lot going for it and I thought I’d just quickly mention the visuals and sound too. Both are excellent throughout and with so much happening on-screen I never once experienced any kind of frame rate drop or screen tearing. It gets chaotic at times and there wasn’t a single issue, which was mighty impressive. The visuals of the environments and the different character models are brilliantly put together making Alienation a splendour from start to finish.
One last thing
Overall Alienation is a great experience, it can be frustrating but that only makes completing a level all the more worth it. Every element of the game seems to have been carefully considered by Housemarque to make it an action packed game that is enjoyable from the get-go. The amount of options and abilities and of course the excellent end game section mean it’s a game that will last the long haul and is worth every penny. If you have a PS4 there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be getting Alienation.