By Phil Schipper / March 1st, 2016
|Title||Super Mutant Alien Assault|
|Release Date||August 20, 2015|
Whenever an alien race is in control of Earth, it is of course up to the robots to head to the aliens’ home planet, and wipe them out in a blaze of gunfire and explosions. At least, Super Mutant Alien Assault says so, and in it, you are those robots.
You’ll do this using a ton of abilities that you can pick up from the ground on each screen. Besides weapons and explosives, which have to be replenished often, you’ll also pick up reusable abilities. Defensive abilities, such as a quick dash, can pretty much be used as much as you want. There are also offensive abilities, like the energy wave and temporary speed boost, that use up a special meter, and these can really turn the tables in battle.
Killing tons of aliens isn’t the only objective you’ll find, although it’s usually involved. There’s a specific goal in each game screen–sort of a bite-sized level that all fits on screen–and they range from transporting fuel tanks across the screen to making sure pressure valves don’t explode. A single screen takes a couple of minutes of hectic jumping and shooting, and after surviving three of these you’ll face a boss alien. These bosses are pretty tough, but if you can hold out and beat them, you’ll move on to the next galaxy.
At first, it’s pretty difficult to get through even one galaxy. There are very few supplies available, but luckily, the game counts the total number of screens you’ve completed in order to unlock new weapons, explosives and abilities, so you’ll get stronger just by playing. Also, once you unlock new galaxies, you can start at the new one and work from there. However, in order to get the major rewards, and higher difficulties, you have to beat all three galaxies in a row without dying. Though a single run is pretty short, you’ll have to try quite a few times.
That said, the game doesn’t necessarily take long to “beat.” I beat the last galaxy by itself after playing for only about 2 hours, and was able to do a full runthrough of the three about an hour later. The content in Super Mutant Alien Assault comes from the increasing amount of possibilities. Each screen is handmade, but which ones you’ll play, in what mode and with what enemies are random. New game modes and enemies also unlock as you play, in addition to the new toys, so it’s always growing. Still, if you were expecting a big campaign, you might be a bit disappointed.
What Super Mutant Alien Assault is good for, however, is a few quick rounds with a buddy. Local multiplayer works great, and it allowed me to test out both the controller and keyboard controls, which are equally solid. There’s not really friendly fire, but you can accidentally hurt each other (and/or yourself) with explosives. Also, it costs a player nothing to stand there for a few seconds and revive the other. The only caveat is that you have to share the supplies–the game does not increase the amount for two-player, but it doesn’t really increase the alien threat either, from what I could tell.
Visually, this game looks like a love letter to games like Super Metroid, though with a lot more traditional firearms thrown in. Every screen gives you the feel that you’re in a damaged spaceship, trying your best to keep the aliens from crawling in through the cracks. You can turn off the rather aggressive screen shake, which I appreciated, but in moments when the ship goes into hyperdrive, the game slows down. At first I thought this was a seriously terrible frame rate drop, but after going through it a few more times I’m fairly certain that the developers wanted to convey slowed time. Unfortunately, that’s one part that doesn’t work out for me.
The dubstep music works well for this kind of crazy sci-fi action game. Not that I’m going to go out and buy the soundtrack or anything, but it kept me fairly pumped for battle as I went on. Other than that, the only other sounds in the game were basically just the gunshots and explosions, and those were nice enough, too.
There’s not a lot more I can say about Super Mutant Alien Assault, because really it’s not a terribly complex game. It does very little, but that, it does quite well. I have a lot of fun when I play it, but I only do so in short bursts. It’s not the kind of game that you want to put a lot of hours into, but for those brief spans it can give you a pretty big punch. If you want some bite-sized bouts of shooting up bad guys, this is your game. Grab the Early Access on Steam for $9.99 USD.
Oh, and one last thing. When I first started playing, I streamed the game for about an hour. So if you want my raw impressions, or just a more visual look at the action, you can find the recordings of that here and here.
Review copy supplied by the publisher.
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