When the PlayStation 4 launched back in 2013, amongst the massive AAA titles showcasing the console’s power, was a little indie title called “ResoGun” that captured many headlines as a definitive “must-play”. Developed by Housemarque, it was yet another quality title from the developer that could run right alongside any blockbuster release. Today, Housemarque continue their precedent with Alienation. Alienation sears a signature mark within the dual-stick shooter genre, and rises above all the rest. Pristine visuals, a rewarding RPG elememt, intense combat, and pure fun factor, exemplify why Alienation is yet another PlayStation 4 must-play.
Alienation takes a spin on the classic tale of monstrous aliens trying to take over the planet. Now you may think this sounds cliche, but here it’s executed with a certain finesse that doesn’t get under the skin or make you want to gouge out your eyes. An intelligent, and not too invasive narrative keep you informed on your tasks, but very much in the action. The game’s setup rings a bell in the direction of games like Destiny and Diablo. You have a overworld layout with different locations on Earth, once you select a region, missions are laid out throughout. Alienation’s reminiscence of a top-down Destiny is palpable. It has all the layers and depth of a giant title wrapped up in a nice neat package.
For Housemarque, the introduction of heavy RPG elements is a new step for them. Your have three classes of characters to choose from that consist of the usual archetypes. The Tank, which is your heavy assault class. The Bio-Speacialist, a medic style class. Lastly The Saboteur, which is basically the scout type class. Each character has a mainline leveling system that comes along with weapon and ability leveling. I commend Alienation on delivering a full plate that always seems to be presented clean and intuitive. The menu and navigation layout within your inventory is also user friendly and never keeps you too long from smashing some Xeno alien skulls.
Creating an engaging loot system can always be tricky. The fine line of risk and reward has to be played very carefully to keep the player coming back for more. I love the loot system at work here. Similar to Destiny and Diablo, loot drops in the form of common, uncommon, rare, and legendary pieces. During my time I didn’t feel an exhausting grind to see the glimmer of my first legendary piece pop. Once you obtain one of these mighty drops there are a series of ways to enhance their damage. Cores and resources are items that can be picked up throughout the game, and these items are then used to upgrade your arsenal. Slotting in the right resources can increase your damage, clip size, critical hits chance, ect. The higher the difficulty you complete missions in, the higher the chance for more desired loot.
A key component to Alienation’s appeal is not all seeded in its well designed RPG and loot mechanics, but in its gameplay itself. At this point I have spent many hours replaying missions with friends or going solo and just experiencing the mayhem and glorious damage that appear on screen. Most importantly, Alienation feels great. The dual-stick controls are on point and allow you to have complete control on what you wanna do, and who you wanna blast away. Plowing your way through your objectives while seeing the numerous alien type invade your screen can become frantic and challenging all in one. It forces the player to utilize their skills, strength of their class type, and strategically traverse the environments during firefights. Now it should be noted that there are portions where soloing Alienation seem impossible, and I extremely encourage co-op play to conquer the hurtle. If you’re someone who is opposed to playing nice with others, you may find your personal finish line with Alienation a lot faster.
Alienation’s visuals and sound carry a distinct sheen to itself that Housemarque games seem to embody. It’s beautiful. Extraordinary detail, lighting, and texture are poured into every pixel you see from your top-down view. Also the sound of the energy guns rippling through the air really tingle the ears. The smoke and explosion animations may also be some of the best I’ve seen. Instead of a cartoony presentation, Alienation delivers a realistic graphical approach and it scores big. Even from the top-down perspective, every detail is clearly portrayed to the screen and with such shine. It’s looks as if if I were to zoom into a FPS mode in this world, the graphics would be insane. From the burst of light emitting from your energy guns, to the slime green glows of the aliens, this is a gem for the eyes.
Alienation is an example of why Housemarque remains to be one of the PlayStation 4’s elite developers. This dual-stick shooter RPG hits like a mammoth and secures a notch on the “must-play” board. Containing an excellent, accessible RPG system, fantastic presentation, and fluid combat, Alienation stands strong, and can produce hours of fun. Ultimately, It’s a goopy, gross, alien chaotic mess, and I love it.
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