You got your sci-fi in my fantasy.
I still play Diablo III to this day. It is the game of the forever, it never slows down or fails to make me smile when I play it. Needless to say, I love a good action RPG with plenty of colored loot. Alienation is the latest title from developer Housemarque, the same team that brought us Dead Nation and Resogun. With the name Alienation I was expecting it to be more akin to their previous zombie-filled outing, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that this is essentially a sci-fi Diablo, with some unique hooks to call its own.
Alienation is a top-down action/RPG where players grind through levels, gaining XP, collecting loot, and upgrading their abilities. There are three classes to choose from, with each one feeling vastly different from the other two. The Bio-Specialist is the healer of the group, but also has an array of attack skills such as the awesome Wraiths. Next up is the Tank, which is pretty self-explanatory. His role is to take the damage and deal it out. Finally we have the Saboteur, which is the swift character in the group. He has a plasma sword and can cloak to sneak up on enemies.
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
One of the best things about Alienation is that the skill tree is never set in stone. Before each mission players can re-spec their characters to try out different abilities, or just cater to the mission objectives. It is an open system that encourages experimentation, thus making going back to previous areas more interesting. This is good news considering repeating missions will become necessary for players wanting to hit the level cap.
Each mission has various difficulties, with each one upping the level of your opponents, and also granting better percentages of getting rare loot. Players can also max out at level 30 and unlock Hero levels, which work similar to Diablo’s Paragon system.
The risk/reward system is heavy in Alienation. In addition to offering up better loot on the harder difficulties, the game employs a system similar to Shovel Knight, where players can destroy their mid-level checkpoints to increase the volume and quality of the loot dropped in that level. It is a loot-mongers dream here, with plenty of guns and equipment to keep players coming back. Also, each weapon’s stats can be re-rolled on-the-fly making the customization superb.
The best part about Alienation though is actually playing it. The shooting feels fantastic. Aiming is done with the right stick, with the R2 releasing the attack. Bullets hit enemies with immense satisfaction, and mowing down an entire group never gets old. Abilities are fun to utilize, and can quickly change the tide of battle. Never forget the melee attack though, as it can help out in a pinch. I love how strategic things can get. There is also a smart reload ala Gears of War that plays out a sort of mini-game. Managing the dodge, reload, melee, and attack dance was a thing of beauty once I got it down.
Speaking of beauty, the particle effects in the game are outstanding. Explosions and smoke have rarely looked this good, and seeing small details within the world are fantastic. In terms of pure visuals the game looks good, and the frame rate holds a mostly steady 30fps throughout. I really like the look of the worlds, even though the main characters feel ripped right out of generic monthly sci-fi magazine.
Alienation is a game that dodged my radar, mostly in part to how many other games are vying for my time lately, but I cannot stress it enough, don’t sleep on this game. The addictive loot-gathering nature is extremely satisfying, and the spot-on controls and cooperative play really make this a game easy to recommend to a gaming group of friends. For those looking for that supplement to Diablo, Alienation should be right up your alley.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.