Housemarque is one of my favourite developers this generation. After being blown away by Resogun and Dead Nation, saying I was hyped for Alienation would be an understatement. And weeks after release, I’m still enjoying the hell out of Alienation. Housemarque’s top-down twin-stick shooter is worth playing for a variety of reasons and it has very, very little holding it back.
Alienation has a great loot system and tons of explosions. It also wants you to play online. More on the online in a bit. There’s a quick training mission that helps you get your bearings with the controls initially and this is where you see just how good Housemarque is at controls and responsiveness in its games.
When you start the campaign off, you have three class options. Each of them gains XP as you progress through levels with hordes of enemies. While you can play solo, things definitely seem more balanced for co-op play. Aliens have taken over and it is your job (along with friends or strangers online) to head to various locations for missions involving loads of enemies and even more explosions. The story is not the focus here, and I didn’t come in expecting a great story either.
The three classes are Bio-specialist, Tank, and Saboteur. The Tank, as the name suggests, is focussed on firepower and is mostly a close-range class with lots of health. The Bio-specialist is the healer and ranged combatant, while the Saboteur is the stealth support class. I found myself enjoying the Tank the most, with the swarms of enemies coming at your group. There’s also the option of being able to change how you spec out your soldier, so there’s a lot of freedom here.
Variety in enemy design and the large maps make Alienation a lot of fun, while keepng you on your toes. While missions usually start off with grunts that die in a few seconds, insect enemies, bosses and more start showing up, making your life hell. A combination of ranged attack enemies that snipe you from afar and others who come straight into your face with you going all guns blazing is what makes Alienation great. The visual spectacle is a feast for the senses. In addition to the areas in the campaign, there are also procedurally generated levels for when you’re done with the campaign and aren’t in the mood for hitting up New Game+.
The online implementation in Alienation is great for a variety of reasons. It allows you to quickly drop in and out of games with other players across the world without wasting any time. I would recommend convincing your friends to get this as well because the most fun you will have here is with friends online. There’s also a Dark Souls-esque invasion system that spices up the online. My major complaint with Alienation is the lack of local co-op. A future patch will add this option, but for now it is disappointing to not have it.
Alienation highlights the PSN Store’s need for the multiple pack game purchase option. Seen those Steam games that offer a four-game pack at a discounted rate to gift your friends so you can all play online? Alienation is tailor-made for such a purchase option, and would’ve greatly benefited from that. Alienation is an essential purchase for anyone into twin-stick shooters or someone craving a fun game with a nice loot system and RPG elements.