Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 26 April 2016
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Alienation is the latest title from Housemarque. It is probably the most ambitious title it has ever worked on, and it shows from the start of the game. The game is a top down twin-stick shooter that follows the events of an alien invasion on Earth. You are part of the UNX, a special team deployed to help fight off the aliens, and build a better tomorrow, with guns!
Instead of a traditional story driven experience, Alienation goes for a mission-based system where you drop down in different locations scattered around Earth and take on missions given to you. The missions are not expressed well enough to actually care about what you’re doing, but the game is all about the exploration, explosions, and loot system. As you are dropped into an area, you are free to explore to you heart’s content. Aliens are forever chashing you as they spawn and you kill them, and they spawn again. This gives the game a constant sense of action as you cannot hide in your menu for long before you are attacked.
You can choose from 3 classes, a Tank, Saboteur, and Bio-Specialist. Each class has exclusive special attacks and a primary weapon. The Tank for example uses a dual-wielded energy gun, whereas the Saboteur uses an SMG. Other than the primary weapons, you get a secondary weapon and heavy weapon, these can be equipped across every class. Secondary weapons range from shotguns and a charged shot rifle gun, to a revolver. Heavy weapons are the best of the bunch as you can equip a flamethrower, mini gun and rocket launcher. The weapons system might come across as simple, but it is deeper than it seems. As you go about missions, you will gather new loot in various ranks from common to legendary. Each weapon rank is more powerful than the other but at the same time allows for different modifications to be used on the weapon.
This weapons system really makes it worthwhile to explore each area on the map thoroughly, and take on the various challenges. If you are short on upgrade materials, you can also salvage old unwanted guns. The weapons system is pretty great as it not only helped boost our damage up by that tiny notch, but it also created a sense of variety as you went from tossing cluster grenades to a boomerang which chopped enemies apart in the distance.
Character classes on the other hand are not as detailed as the weapons system, but it worked pretty well. Each class has one full skill tree which is unique to the character, and another skill tree that focuses on your all-round abilities like dashing and melee. As you kill enemies, complete missions and events in missions, you will earn XP which will go towards you level. Earn enough and you will level up unlocking a skill point to place into the tree. The best part about the skill tree is that you can take points out and put them in at any time, so if you feel that you need to focus less on speed and more on melee, then you can. In terms of the special attacks, each class has their own. The Bio-Specialist is the healer of the group who is there when you are low on health. The Saboteur is the fast and agile member who can call forth a great barrage of rockets from the sky, completely wiping out anything in the area around him.
A normal mission in Alienation sees you starting at one point on the map, running around and doing stuff, and then being extracted at the end. What makes the game great is everything that happens in-between. The enemies are ferociously awesome-looking, the environments are dark and really set the tone for the post-apocalyptic theme, and the action is really one of a kind. Missions can also be tackled on various difficulties, which gave us some rather intense challenges and it’s all playable with three friends. Bosses are large and have buffs like hardened, poison, extra health and more.
In terms of visuals, Alienation sure has a lot going for it. Particle effects are spot on and some of the best we have ever seen. Aliens look fantastic too; from the smallest bug creature to the largest goliath. Environments are filled with overgrown fauna and abandoned cars and it generally looks like the end of the world. Explosions are massive and light up the room. All of this adds to the action which the game has strongly emphasised on and it delivered beyond our expectations.
Alienation invaded our lives and we could not put it down. At its core it’s a solid top-down shooter which has the looks and the gameplay appeal that drew us in and kept us going way into the night. Its addictive combat and deep weapon system will make any RPG fan happy and its explosive action will keep those trigger-happy gamers intrigued for hours. Once you have completed the main campaign there is lost more to do, which we will leave for you to discover.