Housemarque Studio Delivers A Fantastic “Alienation” (REVIEW)
Housemarque Studios has done it again. The same studio that brought us Dead Nation & Resogun brings Playstation 4 gamers Alienation. This PS4 Indie exclusive is a sci-fi co-op action RPG in the style of a top down twin-stick shooter.
In the opening cutscene you learn that Earth has been infiltrated by aliens. The Great War has been raging for decades & now humanity is prepared to make one last stand. Choose your character class, armor color, and prepare to exterminate the aliens. You should also prepare to die especially if you choose to play the campaign on its toughest difficulty, Hardcore.
There are a total of 20 story missions across the globe plus one training mission to get the player comfortable with the shooting and movement mechanics of the game. When starting a mission you can choose between three difficulty settings; Rookie, Professional, & Veteran. If you want to level up quicker and get better quality gear you should choose the Professional difficulty. If you have a solid three or four member team I recommend
attempting the Veteran difficulty for even more XP/higher chances for better weapons, items, & equipment. Depending on your settings, you can invite friends into your party before or during the mission, and enable friends or any players from any country to join your mission without sending invitations. These options are only available for active PS plus subscribers due to the online multi-player requirement by Sony for PS4 players. If you are not a subscriber you can still play this game, but will only be playing solo. As of right now there is not a local co-op mode, but the developers are going to bring that option to the game.
If you are looking for the toughest missions then you want to choose the Hardcore setting. This mode can be selected when starting a new campaign. In Hardcore you can select one of three difficulty settings as mentioned above. The main difference in this mode is the permanent death feature. When you die your campaign gets deleted, whether you are just starting out or on the final mission. I strongly advise you to form at least a two or three player team to attempt this challenge. I attempted a Hardcore mission for a trophy, and it took me several attempts. If you are a platinum trophy enthusiast you will need to reach level 30 in this mode to get it.
There are three playable character classes: Tank, Bio-Specialist, and Saboteur. Each class has a different primary weapon type and three unique active abilities and three passive abilities.
Tank- The primary weapon for this class is an Energy Gun. It fires electric bolts at enemies. The three unique active abilities are Tesla Charge-it fires two devastating bolts of energy damaging all enemies in its path; Shield-a kinetic barrier appears in front of the player & nearby squad members absorbing incoming projectiles and blocks enemies; Ground Smash-all available energy is rerouted to your arms as they slam the ground causing a huge damaging shockwave.
Bio-Specialist- Their primary weapon is a Xenorifle. Modified with xeno tech it fires high energy plasma to decimate enemies. The three unique active abilities are Poison Cloud-a trail of toxins that damages all Xenos caught in the cloud; Healing-nanomachines in the armor repair damage for player & all allies restoring a certain amount of health per second; Wraiths-three swarms of nanomachines are released causing damage to enemies.
Saboteur- This primary weapon type is a SMG, a light machine gun. The three unique active abilities are Plasma Sword-two powerful sword attacks damaging all enemies in a cone in front of you; Artillery Strike-enemies in range around each team member are hit from above with deadly precision; Camouflage-while not performing offensive or mission-critical actions you become invisible for a short time.
All abilities can be upgraded using the ability points you get when your character reaches a higher level. You can also deactivate an ability to get a point to use elsewhere. Active & passive ability points cannot be shared.
Leveling Up System
There are a number of ways to become a better, more effective killing machine. Weapons and equipment range from stock (lowest tier) to legendary (highest tier). The two main stats are Damage per second & Gear power bonus with secondary stats also playing a role in how powerful you are. The gear you find in the world is tied to a certain character level. You can upgrade certain tier weapons/equipment using Gear Upgrade Cores (power, boost, utility, & prismatic). These cores have levels as well. You can combine any level core to create one that’s a higher level, the maximum level core is six. Prismatic cores can only be used to upgrade weapons. Any level core can be removed from an item to put in a different core.
In addition you can reroll the stats of gear. To do so you will need the proper amount of metal (stock, common, uncommon, rare, or legendary) required. These resources are found by salvaging gear you don’t need anymore and by completing missions. I’ve only rerolled the stats once. My level 12 legendary mine increased its damage stat by 1100.
Mission Events & New Game Plus
When playing certain story missions there are specific in mission events that can be activated by anyone on your team. If you explore the large mission locations you should find at least a few events. There is a special icon on the map. These events are completely optional but when completed grant you extra rewards. The events have a time limit once activated. If they are not completed you cannot attempt them again. I personally love the hitman missions. These higher level targets are formidable foes, but a team of two properly leveled players should get the job done.
After completing all 20 story missions New Game Plus is activated. In addition to playing the story missions again, this time on World Rank 2 (which puts the enemies at least three levels higher than you), you also have access to UNX Assignments. These assignments reward you with types of metals & gear upgrade cores. You can have up to three active assignments. A total of six assignments are available to choose from with new assignments appearing when the refresh timer resets. Each assignment shows the rewards you will get when completed as well as what you are required to do for completion. One more phase of New Game plus is Hero Levels which unlocks at level 30. I have only made it to level 20 with one character, but will be trying out the mode as soon as I can.
In closing Alienation has the right amount of story missions and end game content. If you like to explore the locations you can finish the campaign in about 10 or so hours. Whether you choose to play as all three classes or just one this game is a steal at $20 here in the states. If you enjoy games like Diablo and Dead Nation then go get this game. It’s available now on the Playstation Store.