Housemarque has been hiding in their secret laboratory within the depths of Finland since they last poked their heads out during the PlayStation 4’s launch a few years back. Resogun was what they unleashed upon the unprepared masses back then. Now, they’re emerging after various nefarious experiments to release an alien invasion upon our world. Alienation has arrived, and it is up to us to equip our powersuits and team up to repel this vicious alien assault.
Alienation is essentially a twin stick top-down shooter. These aren’t games you normally expect more than the most bare-boned premise from in terms of writing… yet Alienation actually has a fairly simple and well-written story. It’s a pretty standard alien invasion story, but the characters are pretty interesting – for what you get to see of them anyways. You see, the game is structured in a series of missions you can undertake to ‘save the world’ from the aliens. You’ll progress through various regions to try to liberate them from Alien control and uncover more of the game’s story. Now, like any good twinstick shooter – replayability is the name of the game. And they do this by having a ‘world level’ that increases the difficulty of all of these missions allowing you to replay them without them getting too easy.
The other cool thing they’ve done to try to bring a bit of depth to the game is added a fairly simple, yet thorough Diablo-esque loot system. As you slaughter the massive quantities of aliens that seek your death, you’ll get a ton of drops that you can use. There are various types of primary, secondary, and heavy weapons as well as different types of grenades. Each item you find will have different stats, so you can pick whether you want to focus on survivability, your primary weaponry, or your special abilities. Yes, special abilities… in addition to the loot system, there are also three classes, each with their own special abilities.
The classes are pretty standard – your specialist/medic, your assassin, and your heavy. The abilities are fairly suitable for their design and the assassin-style one, which I spent most of my time with, is a lot of fun. As you level up you’ll get points to spend on upgrading both your character and your abilities… these upgrades come in both base stat form as well as various special effects. For example, you can make it so your dodge deals damage to those you pass through. At each stage you can only pick one of the two stat modifiers, so you do need to think about what you want on that regard, but you can easily respec so you can play around to find your optimal setup.
Housemarque’s become known for two things: incredible visual effects and perfectly responsive gameplay. Did these two carry over into their new title? In a word… absolutely. The game’s controls simply work and it is one of the most visually appealing games I’ve played, in terms of visual effects. Sure the core is a pretty simple twin stick top-down shooter, which is not exactly all that much to look at. But they’ve layered on some of the most interesting and vivid particle and explosion effects gaming has to offer. It’s a feast for the eyes.
If you were to take Dead Nation’s responsive shooter gameplay, cross it with the gorgeous effects of Resogun, and throw a Diablo loot system on top, you’d get something like Alienation. If that sounds at all interesting to you… then I cannot recommend this game enough. If that doesn’t sound interesting to you, then I think there’s something wrong with you, but we don’t judge here. Overall, this is a fantastic game to pass the time and another great game for the PS4.