By Josh Speer / July 27th, 2016
|Title||Super Mutant Alien Assault|
|Developer||Surprise Attack Games|
|Release Date||July 11th, 2016|
|Genre||Roguelike, arcade, action|
|Platform||PC, PS4, XBox One|
For the savvy readers out there, you might recognize the title of this game. See, we did an impressions piece for Super Mutant Alien Assault a while back when it launched on Early Access. However, now that the full version has released on Steam, with all the requisite balances and tweaks, we decided to give our finalized idea of what sort of game Super Mutant Alien Assault is, and whether or not it’s worth your hard-earned money.
The plot of the game is pretty bare bones, just setting up your motivation to play. Humans are on an exodus ship through space, safe in their cryogenic chambers. Or they would be, if a horde of angry aliens hadn’t boarded their ship. While in many a horror movie this would result in a horrific and bloody end, the plucky humans have one advantage – they are guarded by a robot companion! This rabbit eared little fellow may not look like much, but he’s capable of putting a huge hurt on the alien forces. While you start out without any weapons, you will quickly find a dispenser that will grant you various weapons every few moments. This is important, since most weapons have limited ammo, so you’ll constantly need to be on your game, learning what each weapon does, and how powerful it is. By far my favorite was the Pulse Chakram, which had unlimited uses, and could be thrown and drawn back to you with the fire button, making it a glowing boomerang of death. Also, friendly fire is a thing, so be careful not to fire those rockets or grenades at point blank range, or your little robot will have some burn marks.
There are three different randomly generated galaxies to get through, each composed of four stages. As you play, you will gradually unlock new weapons, enemies and even special abilities, such as dashing, double jumping or even emitting a shockwave. Beyond that, there are also different types of levels to play. Since your little robot is the sole caretaker for a ship full of humans, it makes sense that he’d have to do more than just fight the encroaching alien hordes. You’ll have to maintain the ship as well, doing things like carrying fuel cells to requisite chambers, keeping the ship from overheating, and more. This adds some much needed variety to the proceedings, which is good since the game itself is so short.
While there is definitely challenge to the game, and it doesn’t pull punches even on Normal, it’s also over far too soon. I was able to get through all three galaxies in a little under an hour, and that was taking into account the 10 minutes I spent familiarizing myself with the game mechanics. While that is a little frustrating, the roguelike unlocks do add some replay value to things. Plus, since you’ll constantly be unlocking new tools and foes, the dynamic of the game will be in a constant state of flux. Though if you’re fortunate enough to unlock the double jump and hold on to it, you’ll have a large advantage over your alien foes.
As for how the game itself plays, I never felt things were too easy. There’s a lot of enemy diversity, from the green hounds to the buzzing aliens to floating alien brains, and each of the lovingly designed foes has a different look and attack pattern. Better yet, if the aliens get irradiated before you can get to them, they’ll evolve into a bigger, nastier threat. You’ll even face off against some bosses, which are just huge and brutal forms of your standard aliens. This is a good balancing act, since you’ll have to divert your attention between maintaining the ship and keeping the aliens from getting too overpowered. Trust me when I say you can’t ignore them for long, unless you have a death wish. Another factor keeping the game from being a pushover is how you will find very few health recharge stations, so if you keep absorbing damage, you’ll be scrap pretty quickly. Given the roguelike aspect of the game, that also means you’ll start over from the beginning, which is good, since it forces players to constantly be improving their skills.
One area I felt Super Mutant Alien Assault really shone was in the music. It is a very energetic dubstep, and it fits the action pretty well. It kept me pumped as I played, and for a game you play in short bursts like this, that was a perfect design decision. The art, likewise, was great, and reminiscent of some of the better games from the SNES era. It kind of reminds me of chibi Contra. It’s nothing ground breaking, but it’s well rendered, pretty and smooth. Can’t really ask for much more from a game like this.
While I did enjoy my time with Super Mutant Alien Assault, I was a little surprised at how short the game was. Granted, you can and should put in more hours if you want replay value, but not every gamer will care about that. Some are just here for the main mission, and if that’s all that interests you, I can’t highly recommend Super Mutant Alien Assault for the asking price of $9.99. However, if you like hardcore retro games and want to unlock all the achievements and other goodies, then this game may just be for you. If nothing else, I look forward to the next title that Surprise Attack Games manages to cook up. Perhaps they’ll take what they learned from this game and use it to make a truly epic Metroidvania in a similar vein!
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
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