By Josh Speer / October 18th, 2017
|Title||Let Them Come|
|Release Date||October 3rd, 2017|
|Genre||Action, Tower Defense|
|Age Rating||M for Mature – Violence, Blood and Gore, Strong Language|
I don’t think of myself as a macho man. And yet, as a male, I sometimes find I’m drawn to things that are violent and viscerally satisfying. That could be genetics, or it could be because the movies I grew up with often romanticized muscebound heroes fending off dangerous foes when nobody else could get the job done. And while I like many other genres of movie, something about that action hero machismo appealed to me. So when I saw a game that mixes that 80’s and 90’s action hero flavor with beautiful and dark pixel violence and a little tower defense, I was intrigued. That game is Let Them Come, and while I had played it a couple years back at PAX, that only offered a brief glimpse of what the full experience had to offer. Now that I’ve played through the entirety of the game, did it live up to my expectations, or does the action hero choke under the weight of his own muscles?
Speaking of action heroes, the main character and lone hero in Let Them Come is the aptly named Rock Gunar, a bad ass ex military mercenary and last surviving human on a space station overrun with alien monstrosities. He is literally the last line of defense between Earth and this invasion, and all he has to stop them are his machine gun, his boom box and his heroics. Well, that’s not entirely true, since each time you fail a wave, Rock is able to buy items from Infinicorp before restarting the wave. The Infinicorp shop provides a number of benefits, such as unlocking new ammo, secondary weapons and even improving base stats like machine gun cooling and bullet strength. Hearing this, you might think this makes the difficulty feel less urgent, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. While it’s true that death isn’t the end, that doesn’t mean the game isn’t balls to the wall hard. You only unlock currency by deftly killing hordes of foes and racking up a high combo rating. If you keep dying early in a wave, you’ll only earn meager currency, so Let Them Come encourages you to improve your game and adapt quickly to dangerous situations.
Though the game is broken up into 5 actual stages, each stage is composed of tons of enemy waves (roughly 130 in total) with no lengthy break between them. That quickly becomes relevant when you take into consideration that your gun overheats when firing too long, so you’ll need to time things right and make use of secondary weapons to buy time, such as grenades or your knife or baseball bat. Though your primary machine gun ammunition is unlimited, it is also the weakest, so you’ll need to buy more devastating munitions from Infinicorp. I personally made constant use of explosive rounds, since they made quick work of hordes when they got especially congested, though there is a ton of other choices you can pick from, such as piercing rounds, stun rounds, and much more. Let Them Come doesn’t hold your hand, and that’s just as well, since this approach lets you customize your experience in a way best suited to your skills. In my 3 hour playthrough, I only unlocked perhaps 40% of the total items available, since trying to get 100% would have bankrupted me. While the game does reward you with more currency the better you play, you’ll never have so much that you can buy an endless supply of anything. This is especially true since it’s in your best interest to not only purchase items and passive skills but to upgrade them as well, which takes progressively more cash. I found it important to maximize my machine gun’s speed and power, then improve the cooling so it wouldn’t overheat too much. Though this let me tackle harder and longer waves, it hardly made the game a cakewalk.
Speaking of the gameplay itself, it’s both simple and distinctly gratifying. Your goal is to survive wave after wave of enemy foes, ending with challenging boss fights. If you kill enough enemies in a row to fill up your combo meter, you’ll be rewarded with a random selection of 3 temporary bonuses. These range pretty widely, from making enemies explode upon death, to providing you with a handy drone to gun down foes, to even temporarily giving you double barreled mayhem. There’s a lot of options, but it’s good to experiment and find the right bonus for the situation. If you’re beset by tons of crawling Spiderlings, you don’t necessarily want an aerial strike, you might do better picking Frenzy mode to pick them off. I avoided the Resupply bonus most of my playthrough, and only found how incredibly helpful that was when I tackled some of the Challenge modes (more on that later).
The alien hordes in Let Them Come are all fantastically creepy and brutal, ranging from the standard dog-like armored Grunts to infested human Hosts to hideous skittering globs that explode when killed. There is no end to the variety of monsters, and they all have different patterns (all of which is noted for your convenience in the fantastic bestiary). As if that wasn’t enough, there are also 5 enormous and intimidating bosses to battle against at the end of each stage. These are generally more tactical, but no less difficult. All the bosses have multiple patterns of attack, some of which can be negated if you hit them fast enough prior to an attack when you see an exclamation point appear. While I loved all the hideous creatures, some of the boss fights were quite frustrating, notably the 3rd and 4th. One was difficult since, while the game did signpost when to use a grenade in order to damage key portions of the boss, it didn’t tell me I needed piercing rounds to kill other portions. The other boss was a challenge because it could generate swarms of enemies while also assailing me with acidic bubbles, and I would often get overwhelmed by the lesser foes while trying to do damage to the boss. That said, overall I enjoyed the boss fights, and only found 2 out of 5 to be a problem.
I don’t normally like playing PC games with just my mouse and keyboard, but in Let Them Come, that’s my recommended way to play. Your spacebar controls your secondary weapons, such as your knife, and your left, right and middle mouse buttons control your machine gun and grenades. It’s incredibly intuitive and I grew to like the controls very quickly, though I will say that if you’re trying again and again to beat an especially challenging wave, your wrist is going to cramp up a bit. While I heard that you can play the game with an XBox One controller, I’d say you can avoid that if you have a decent mouse.
Visually, the game is vibrant, dark and full of fantastic pixel art. The use of lighting is awesome at setting the mood, and altogether the art in Let Them Come is one of the highlights. I especially liked how in place of a health bar, you watch your character portrait become more and more bloodied as you’re damaged. The sound design is also well suited to the experience, and will keep you motivated to play through horde upon horde of alien scum. When you’re doing really well, Rock will hoot and holler like a demented cowboy, which was a nice touch. Best of all, you can pick from various soundtracks in the Infinicorp shop, each with a selection of a few songs. So if you’re getting tired of your background music, you can always change it up to keep things fresh. That said, I stuck with the primary soundtrack, as I got accustomed to killing foes to the beat, and was worried my timing would be thrown if I changed mid game.
Earlier I mentioned the Challenge modes, of which there are 3 – Rampage, Boss, and Twitch. Rampage gives you $2000 to pick your loadout, and then has you survive for as long as you can against progressively more difficult waves. This is the mode I learned to love the Resupply bonus, since you can’t go to the Infinicorp shop when you die, and have to make due with the weapons you have with you. The Boss challenges feature even more difficult versions of the ones you play in the main game, if you’re feeling especially masochistic. Lastly, the Twitch challenge lets streamers try and kill you by throwing roadblocks at you as you play. I was unable to try out the last mode, since my laptop is far from high end, but I’m sure it provides hilariously brutal replay value. Finally, if you want to keep on playing the game after you roll credits, you can always try New Game+.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time with Let Them Come. It featured intense action, tactical decision making and brutal boss battles. For only $4.99, it’s a hell of a bargain. While I did get frustrated getting past a couple of the bosses, that didn’t drag the entire experience down. If you want a challenging action game infused with the machismo of the action movies of yore, you can’t do better than Let Them Come. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more alien scum to mow down in New Game+!
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
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